Tencent, the developer of China's popular messaging app WeChat, has released a mobile game that encourages citizens to applaud President Xi Jinping — just days after WeChat blocked features that citizens use to protest.
The game debuted on Wednesday, after Xi's longwinded address at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which occurs once every five years. During the speech, Xi laid out his strategic vision for achieving full "socialist modernisation" within the next 18 years.
Tecent released "Excellent Speech: Clap for Xi Jinping" on the news portal for its instant messaging service QQ to honour of the historic speech. Players first watch a clip of the oration, then have 19 seconds to tap the clap button as many times as possible as they listen to audio of thunderous applause and gaze upon an image of Xi standing before a crowd in the Great Hall of the People.
It's sort of like if Snapchat created an app where you could clap through President Donald Trump's State of the Union (which actually isn't a bad idea, except maybe it would have to provide alternative options, like screaming or banging the phone against your forehead).
As Bloomberg notes, some Chinese tech companies have recently begun making efforts to appease the government after years of prospering free of government control. In the last month, the Chinese government has opened up about its plans to buy stakes in and play direct roles in the nation's biggest tech companies, like Alibaba, Weibo, and Tencent.
China recently fined Tencent, Baidu, and Weibo, for hosting banned content. Earlier this week, Tencent blocked certain features on WeChat, likely in preparation for the 19th National Congress. The changes, which were announced the night before the congress, prevent users from editing their photo, name, and personal information until the end of the month — blocking a common means of showing support for dissidents.
According to Chinese social media news site What's On Weibo, the Tencent clapping game had been played more than 400 million times by Wednesday night. Currently a counter on the game shows that users have clapped for Xi more than 1.1 billion times. The Wall Street Journal reports that Tencent's WeChat and QQ both boast over 800 million monthly active users.
You can try out the interactive propaganda by clicking this link on a mobile device.