Xi Jinping now rules Apple's Chinese app store, too

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HONG KONG (Feb 14): Chinese leader Xi Jinping has progressively tightened his grip on China in his years at the helm. Now he reigns supreme even in mobile apps.

“Study Powerful Country,” a guide to the ins and outs of his ruling doctrine, now tops Apple Inc’s domestic download charts, ahead of perennial chart-toppers like Tencent Holdings Ltd’s WeChat and Bytedance Ltd’s TikTok. The app contains a trove of news articles, video clips and even documentaries about “Xi Jinping Thought,” which was added to China’s constitution in 2017.

Its surge underscores the Communist Party’s efforts to reach out to a generation of young Chinese as it works to bolster its control over the world’s second-largest economy. An app designed by Tencent in 2017 awarded points to the fastest applauders during a streamed speech by Xi, and went similarly viral.

The party recently launched a campaign to encourage the doctrine’s study in the run-up to the National People’s Congress next month. The app itself doles out points to users depending on how often they log on, comment on posts or take quizzes, and supports WeChat-style messaging. Party members are encouraged to use it, according to Caijing, a Beijing-based magazine covering Chinese companies.

Requiring users to provide their real names and register their mobile phone numbers, the app could also be used as a tool to keep tabs on people. One thing to note: the data available only encompasses downloads, not actual daily usage.