Alibaba is the force behind the Chinese Communist Party's application: sources



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BEIJING (Reuters) – A highly successful Chinese government propaganda application has been developed by Alibaba, two company members told Reuters at a time when the country's technology companies are under surveillance. global scale for their links with Beijing.

The Chinese government's propaganda application Xuexi Qiangguo, which literally translates as "Study to make China strong," is visible on a mobile phone in this illustration photo taken on February 18, 2019. REUTERS / Tingshu Wang / Illustration

"Xuexi Qiangguo", which literally translates as "Study to make China strong" and is a play on the theme of government propaganda that is to apply the thoughts of President Xi Jinping. the week.

It was developed by a team of special projects in Alibaba largely unknown, known as "Business Unit Projects Y", which supports development projects outside the company, said staff.

Alibaba, a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, declined to say whether the business unit had developed the application.

The development of the application by Alibaba, whose president, Jack Ma, is a member of the Communist Party, is the latest example of a Chinese technology company collaborating with the government.

The country's propaganda department released the application before the National People's Congress, to be held next month in Beijing, China's largest annual parliamentary meeting.

OPPORTUNITIES OF EMPLOYMENT

The application, which includes short videos, government news and quizzes, was created by a team from Alibaba. A user of Alibaba's DingTalk messaging application can use his login information to connect to Xuexi Qiangguo. Alibaba said the application was created using the DingTalk software.

Alibaba's staff is responsible for the development and maintenance of the app, which includes news, videos, live commentary and community commentary, according to sources and a post advertised for Xuexi Qiangguo on the Carib website of Alibaba.

The unit does not have a website, but is described in the job offers of the Zhipin.com Chinese quarry site as a strategic-level project being created and offering many opportunities. employment.

At least part of the growing popularity of the app can be attributed to guidelines issued by local governments and universities that require members of the vast network of Chinese party members to download the app.

The app has been downloaded more than 43.7 million times on Apple and Android devices since its launch in January, according to estimates from the statistics consulting firm based in Beijing Qimai.

It was not clear right away whether Alibaba was making money with the app or who was behind it.

Last month, Alibaba Executive Vice President Joe Tsai called China's Huawei Technologies' treatment of technology "extremely unfair" and strongly criticized what he called a government attempt. to curb the rise of China during the trade war.

Huawei, the world's leading manufacturer of network equipment, was banned from the United States and some other countries because its products were suspected of using its products as a means of espionage. Huawei and China have denied the allegations.

EXTENSIVE COLLABORATION

But China's major technology companies have cooperated extensively with Chinese governments on infrastructure, cloud computing and public safety as part of the country's "Internet Plus" policy to improve traditional industries.

Collaboration with the state media has also increased in recent years, in the context of stricter censorship laws forcing companies to comply with the party line.

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Beijing ByteDance Technology Co, creator of Tik Tok, and Tencent Holdings Ltd, creator of WeChat, are among those who have collaborated with state media using their social media platforms.

"The advantage of these companies is that their history of cooperation can put them in a better position to obtain licenses or key opportunities," said Mark Natkin, general manager of Beijing-based Marbridge Consulting, adding that Collaborations were the way to stay in control. on private companies.

"The disadvantage is that they can be invited to participate in projects they might normally avoid, for economic or public relations reasons, but they may be uncomfortable or unwise to refuse."

Report by Pei Li and Cate Cadell, Additional Report in the Shanghai Press Room; Edited by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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