The Chinese regime considers popular social media platforms key tools for promoting its agenda.
The regime refers to these platforms as “convergent media:” forms of media that combine the functions of radio, television, and the internet.
Internal government documents that The Epoch Times recently obtained reveal that local governments have been paying private apps considerable sums to promote the content they want.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping has talked about this concept in his public speeches and writings, dating back to January 2019.
On March 16 this year, Xi published an article in a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) journal in which he called for “boosting the development of convergent media.”
And on Sept. 16, an office within the CCP Central Committee and the cabinet-like State Council jointly issued a paper calling on local governments to intensify the role of “convergent media” and “create channels that the masses would not be able to live without.”
In April 2019, the city of Luoyang in Henan Province reached a deal with video-sharing app Douyin to promote a government-organized peony flower festival, according to a leaked document.
The city government propaganda department received a discount and would pay just 250,000 yuan (about $37,300). Douyin would customize the engagement level of users who live in Luoyang, and show them banner ads and recommended videos about the flower festival.
Then, in a June 18 document, the Luoyang propaganda department issued a notice calling on local county and district governments to emulate Mengjin county as a model for pushing “convergent media.”
It also showed that different county governments in Luoyang each established “convergent media centers” for social media platforms to work with propaganda authorities and carry out their policies.
Below are the counties’ investments in the “media centers:”
Mengjin County Convergent Media Center: 6.5 million yuan (about $972,000), established in Aug. 2019;
Yanshi County Convergent Media Center: 2.9 million yuan, established in Sept. 2019;
Xin’an County Convergent Media Center: 10 million yuan, established in Dec. 2018;
Yichuan County Convergent Media Center: 3.05 million yuan, established in Dec. 2018;
Ruyang County Convergent Media Center: 3.45 million yuan, established in May, 2019;
Luoning County Convergent Media Center: 4.5 million yuan, established in Sept. 2019;
Luanchuan County Convergent Media Center: 8.05 million yuan, established in Feb. 2020;
Song County Convergent Media Center: 3.3 million yuan, established in Sept. 2019;
Yibin District Convergent Media Center: 3.4 million yuan, established in Sept. 2019.
In total, the counties spent 45.15 million yuan (about $6.74 million).
China affairs commentator Li Linyi said these revelations show that Chinese authorities have lost their credibility among citizens, as they need to buy social media platforms’ services in order to promote their own events and messaging.
Gu Qing’er contributed to this report.