“Support China’s New Era” Campaign Goes Viral on Chinese Social Media

On the day of the conclusion of the 19th National Congress in Beijing, Party newspaper People’s Daily launched a new hashtag. With #SupporttheNewEra, Chinese celebrities show that they stand behind Xi Jinping and his “new era” philosophy.

The 19th CPC National Congress concluded on Tuesday in Beijing. The occurrence of the major twice-a-decade meeting, from October 18 to October 24, went hand in hand with an online propaganda campaign and strict censorship of social media comments.

The National Congress online propaganda campaign took on many forms this week, with different Chinese media outlets spreading pictures with highlighted slogans, short clips of the event, rap videos explaining China’s ‘New Era’, interactive games that made users clap for Xi Jinping, or even vocabulary lists underlining China’s modernization.

On Tuesday, Party newspaper People’s Daily initiated Weibo hashtag ‘Wèi xīn shídài dǎ call’ #为新时代打call#, roughly meaning ‘give a shout-out to the new era‘ or ‘show support for the new era,’ with a brief explanatory sentence saying: “In the new era, it is our turn to strive to make China really strong!”

By Tuesday night, the topic had received over 440 million views and more than 1,5 million comments.

“Give a shout out to China’s New Era”

The participation of big celebrities turned the campaign into an online hit.

Chinese actress Wang Ziwen, a.k.a. Olivia Wang, who has more than 11 million fans on her Weibo page (@王子文Olivia), posted a 4-second clip in which she gave a ‘shout out’ to China’s new era.

Celebrities such as pianist Lang Lang (郎朗 11.8 million Weibo fans), singer Zhang Yixing (张艺兴, 27 million fans on Weibo), singer Jike Junyi (吉克隽逸, 4+ million followers), and many others also posted similar ±5-second-videos in which they speak out in support of China’s ‘new era.’

This shoutout by singer Zhang Yixing received thousands of shares, likes, and comments.

The closing session of the 19th National Congress passed a resolution to incorporate Xi Jinping’s ‘Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era’ (习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想) into the Party’s constitution. ‘Modernization’ is the keyword for China’s ‘new era.’

The wave of celebrity videos on China’s new era triggered thousands of reactions from Weibo’s netizens and celebrity fans who then also expressed their support for the Party’s new plans.

This latest campaign could be the answer to an issue addressed in the Japan Times, which suggested that Chinese authorities struggle to get propaganda messages across in era of extreme celebrity culture.

Willy Lam, an expert on Chinese politics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said that “Chinese people are increasingly ignoring party propaganda and are much more interested in movie stars, who represent a new lifestyle and more exciting aspirations.”

By mobilizing dozens of big Weibo celebrities, and with millions of commenters interacting with the hashtag, People’s Daily‘s campaign could be called a major success.

However, many commenters seem to be much more interested in the celebrity videos than the message it contains. “I just wanna give a shout out to you, baby,” many responded to Oliva Wang’s video.

With the flood of National-Congress-focused hypes this week, other netizens say that “it’s just been enough.” “I just wanna give a shoutout to myself now,” one commenter says.

By Manya Koetse

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