The Communist App Store: China’s Endless Apps for Tracking, Organizing, and Motivating Party Members

  • 2017-10-23
  • Quartz

China’s Communist Party is getting into app development big time, with dozens of apps to educate and promote social networking among party members hitting the country’s Apple and Android app stores.

The party has long put special focus on “party construction,” a key plank of which involves inspiring fervor in its young members. During Mao Zedong’s era, the party used self-criticism (paywall), where members confessed transgressions, and uprooted and sent millions of young people to the countryside to toil and learn to be true revolutionaries. For decades, the Communist Youth League was a vehicle for nurturing the party’s youngest and most promising minds, but in recent years it has been sidelined.

China’s communist leaders are increasingly treating the internet as a crucial battlefield, particularly this year in the run up to a leadership reshuffle that begins Wednesday (Oct. 18). Promoting the development of party-themed apps that are listed right alongside Angry Birds or Candy Crush is one way to reach—and control—the youngest and most connected of its 90 million party members.