President Xi Jinping is sometimes described in foreign media as China’s most powerful ruler since Mao Zedong. Mao may have had a cult of personality, but he didn’t have his own app.
The app may not have in-app purchases such as provincial governorships. There are no banners or alerts about the latest officials to fall to anti-graft probes. And it certainly doesn’t have any sections on factional intrigues titled “Clash of Clans.” It is, however, downloadable in versions for iOS and Android phones and tablets.
The app’s developer is listed as the China Cadre’s Study Network, affiliated with the Communist Party’s Central Party School.
Unlike his predecessors, Xi and his PR crew have played a savvy social media and meme-crafting game, engineering (or at least tolerating) events such as a 2013 visit to a dumpling store — of which cellphone pictures went viral — and a cartoon rendition of himself and first lady Peng Liyuan.
One measurement of how the app is being received comes from leading portal Sina.com, where it so far reportedly received 2,145 five-star ratings (out of how many is not clear). It seemed to be faring less well in Apple’s App Store, where it received 1.5 stars with 13 ratings.
Here’s a random sampling of content from inside the app’s dozen or so colored icons:
- Event Maps: Clicking on Xi’s attendance at the annual session of parliament accurately plops a red Chinese flag onto the Great Hall of the People on the west side of Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Maps provided by search engine Baidu.
- E-books: Includes electronic version of Xi’s weighty tome The Governance of China. Saves you the nearly $20 Barnes & Noble charges for the hardcover version.
- Uncle Xi’s Story Collection: Includes his love of soccer, his crackdown on corruption in soccer, and his hope that China can someday host and win a World Cup.
- Uncle Xi’s Dictionary Entries: A compendium of buzzwords and shibboleths, such as the “Four Comprehensives,” Xi’s recipe for making progress in reform, economic development, rule of law and party governance.
- Literary Allusions: “Loyal remonstrance can be hard to listen to.” This quote from Confucius is one of many Xi uses to evoke a diligent and moral ruler, one who can take a little constructive criticism without “shooting the messenger.”