A great deal of attention has been paid to outwardly directed influence campaigns mounted by world governments in recent months.  At the forefront of the public’s attention has been Russia, due to their efforts to influence voters leading up to the 2016 Presidential election, and following efforts to sow discord within the American people in places like Charlottesville, where some Americans were more than happy to sow some discord of their own.  Throughout all the posturing, bravado, and tap dancing exhibited on both sides of the aisle regarding Russian influence, however, little attention has been paid to another nation that produces propaganda as a varsity level: China.

Here on SOFREP, we’ve already addressed China’s massive and ever-growing influence on American motion pictures.  Huge investments from China have injected Chinese interests into a number of major studios, and the government’s formal censorship practices demand that no content that can be construed as even remotely anti-Chinese makes it onto the screen, or else the movie will be banned from the second largest paying audience in the world.  We’ve also already discussed their internal propaganda efforts, employing big names like Jackie Chan to force influence into popular culture wherever they feel able.  Many of these efforts, however, have proven less than effective, as modern culture and technology intertwine into an amalgam of non-stop exposure and market saturation-induced cynicism.

China’s most recent effort, however, may have cracked the code when it comes to appealing to the younger generation of citizens that have proven extremely difficult to influence by traditional means; a smart phone applications.  More specifically, it’s a game.

How do you play?  Simple really.  You just watch Chinese President Xi Jingping deliver a speech that, among other things, stresses the benefits of “socialism with Chinese characteristics” and see how much you can clap.

That’s it.  You just try to clap for President Xi’s speech faster and harder than your friends.  If that sounds silly, you probably aren’t one of the people with Candy Crush open in another window.

Called “Excellent Speech: Clap for Xi Jinping,” the new game brought to the Chinese public by the same tech giant that produces popular games like “League of Legends,” the game has already been played more than 400 million times since its release on Wednesday.  Game play entails watching snippets of Xi’s speech, followed by tapping the screen to clap your digital hands as quickly as possible for 19 second intervals.  Once the game is over, you’re shown your results, as well as where you stack up against other clappers.

Ironically, a number of political figures within China were seen yawning or dozing off during the three-and-a-half-hour speech this game derives its content from.  Apparently, the speech is much more dynamic as an app, as one user bragged about clapping some “1,695 times” during a single play through.  By 3 pm on Thursday, the total number of “claps” recorded by the game, according to its landing page, was over a billion.

Whether or not this digital craze will result in a palpable shift in the way young Chinese citizens see their government is yet to be seen, but its success will undoubtedly ensure that this won’t be the last time the Chinese people are encouraged to listen to, and then “clap” for their president’s talking points.


Images courtesy of the Associated Press