Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign

Download now! China’s anti-graft watchdog gets into the smartphone emoji game

Digital icons latest in a long line of official attempts to reach out to younger generation

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 December, 2017, 7:15pm
UPDATED : Monday, 04 December, 2017, 8:59pm

First there was the smiley. Then there were the folded hands. Now the Chinese Communist Party is getting on the emoji bandwagon with a series of animated icons to promote its anticorruption campaign to digital natives.

The party’s graft watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), launched the 16 downloadable icons on Sunday to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the eight-point frugality code, a series of rules targeting extravagance and red tape in the organisation.

The CCDI said it hoped the emojis would promote the rules through a method “loved by most online users”, to close the gap between the public and disciplinary organs and “enhance the people’s understanding of the spirit of the eight points”.

The emojis include one with a red flag representing the eight points being planted on a mountain labelled “strengthen and expand”, a fist punching down on the words for “privilege”, and one attacking golf for being a lavish form of entertainment.

The icons are the latest in a long line of attempts by the party to reach out to China’s online generation, including patriotic music videos and viral propaganda clips, and smartphone apps centred around party organs..

Xi outlined the eight-point code of conduct in December 2012, calling on party members to be “closer to the masses”. It includes such things as a ban on welcome banners, red carpets and floral arrangements for official visits, and the release of fewer official documents.

State media outlets were quick to tout the icons, with state broadcaster CCTV writing on its microblog: “Quick, update! The eight-regulation emoji pack, do you have it yet?”

But internet users were largely dismissive of them.

“This … would end conversations,” a Zhejiang-based Weibo user said, while another in Guangdong described the move as “forced humour”.

Others asked if the government would take concrete steps to crack down on party corruption beyond releasing animated stickers, with a Hebei-based user saying the emoji pack was “useless, even if we send it every day”.