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China to Build a Red Online Army of Commentators

The senior officials in the judicial circle of the Chinese Communist Party held a meeting on September 4th, mapping out a work plan related to the Internet and new media. Chen Yixin, Secretary-General of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, encouraged all personnel in the profession to open their online media accounts, in a sense to build an army of online commentators.

The meeting reportedly encouraged legal professionals and police officers to use new media to set the agenda for public discussion, create hot topics, and become effective online communicators. Chen talked about the transformation of the media and asked if he could be the first responder and agenda setter when a major event breaks out. Chen added that judicial personnel have the additional responsibility of using the pen and “are proactively sharing the burden for the Party.”

The “50 Cent Party” was also part of the discussion at the meeting. The 50 Cent Party, or 50 Cent Army (Chinese: 五毛党), is the colloquial term for Internet commentators who Chinese authorities have hired in an attempt to manipulate public opinion to the benefit of the Chinese Communist Party. Pointing out that the 50 Cent Party is low in quantity, poor in quality, and poorly organized, the meeting asked for a transition toward a “powerful red online army.” To this end, it is necessary to “discover and gather a group of talented original writers with positive energy.” The compensation for the 50 Cent Party was also put on the table. The meeting acknowledged that “not enough attention and support” has been provided to them in the past. Therefore, it was proposed to “explore the incentive mechanism and build a talented team.”

The meeting proposed to foster a group of WeChat public accounts of millions of followers, Weibo accounts of tens of millions of followers, and a web platform with millions of subscribers.

After the meeting, Chinese judicial and legal authorities may require all personnel to open online media accounts. If other professions follow suit, China will see a humongous size of government backed online red army commentators.

Source: Central News Agency, September 7, 2018
http://www.cna.com.tw/news/acn/201809070270-1.aspx

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