China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI/中纪委), the highest internal-control institution of the Communist Party of China that enforces internal regulations and combats corruption and wrongdoings in the Party, has been remarkably active on social media this week.
Not only did the CCDI issue a set of 16 GIF images for netizens to use; they also launched a new public ad campaign reiterating their “Eight-point Regulation” (八项规定), a set of regulations aimed at instilling more discipline among Party members.
The rules were issued on December 4th, 2012, and relate to how Party members “should improve their work style in eight aspects, focusing on rejecting extravagance and reducing bureaucratic visits, meetings and empty talk,” according to Xinhua (2012).
8 Rules, 16 Gifs
On December 3rd, the CCDI issued its set of 16 gifs. The images, that are meant to share as downloadable ‘stickers’ on WeChat, are all themed around regulations to fight corruption and malfeasance in the Party.
The images warn against things such as the private use of cars meant for official business, or using public money for festive dinners and drinking.
The WeChat stickers became a hot topic on Chinese social media this weekend, although many netizens did not necessarily appreciate the latest addition to the wide collection of WeChat gifs.
“You can use them among your 80 million [Party members], the commoners have no use for them!”, some wrote. “What are the normal people supposed to do with them?” others wondered. Many comments on the stickers were soon taken offline.
“No Need to Spend Your Free Nights at Social Parties”
The CCDI is increasingly using digital media to communicate its core values to a large online audience. On Monday, Chinese state media also shared a short public ad campaign video by the CCDI.
It reflects on how the “Eight-point Regulation” have “changed people’s lives.”
The introduction text says:
“You do not have to spend your after work hours on social events – coming home after drinking alcohol to find your child and wife fast asleep, leaving nobody to talk to. You do not have to spend you half-monthly wages on gifts to people who you barely even know. You do not have to surrender to the unwritten rules. In five years, the eight provisions have changed China – changing the lives of you and me.”
The voice-over in the video suggests that people now have more time to read books, work out, and spend time with family. The campaign’s main message is: “You can, but you don’t have to.”
Although the video was praised by some, there were also many who said its message might fall on deaf ears: “These ‘unwritten rules’ are not about Chinese bureaucracy, they are about Chinese culture,” some pointed out. “If you don’t give presents, you won’t succeed.”
Over the past few years, Chinese authorities are increasingly using social media as an important channel to share propaganda. This is often done in creative ways.
Information about important events and state visits of Chinese president Xi Jinping, for example, is often propagated online by means of a gif or short animated film, with Xi as a cartoon figure.
Both the One Belt, One Road initiative and the 19th Party Congress saw many gifs, cartoon, videos, rap songs, and even online mobile games that conveyed the government’s main message on core Party aims and values.
With the Chinese online population growing every day, and a great majority of this online population using WeChat and Weibo for daily communication and news-checking, social media have become an effective channel for propaganda in China today.