Chinese journalists will have to pass a government test on Marxism and President Xi Jinping to be granted press passes

  • Starting next month, China’s Communist Party is expected to require more than 10,000 journalists and editors who work in the country’s state-run media to take tests on President Xi Jinping and Marxism before they can get updated press passes.
  • The South China Morning Post, citing a notice sent in late August from the country’s media oversight office in China’s propaganda department, reported that the tests would be conducted through an app.
  • The app, which was created to educate Chinese citizens on the president’s political philosophy, aggregates favourable articles, news clips, and documentaries. Journalists are required to register with the app.
  • The exam will have five sections.
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Chinese journalists will soon have to prove their knowledge of President Xi Jinping and Marxism before they can continue reporting in the country. To receive updated press passes, more than 10,000 reporters and editors who work in the country’s state-run media will reportedly have to pass a test.

Starting next month, the South China Morning Post reports, journalists will begin taking “pilot tests” through a state-run app called Xuexi Qiangguo. The app aggregates favourable articles, video clips, and documentaries that illustrate Xi’s political philosophy.

According to the Morning Post, a notice issued in August from the Communist Party of China’s media oversight office in the propaganda department said the pilot tests would occur in October before a nationwide exam. Of the five knowledge sections said to be on the test, at least two are related to Xi’s political philosophy and one on Marxism.

It is unclear when the nationwide tests will occur, but journalists from 14 state-run media organisations will reportedly have to take them before updated press passes are issued to those who pass. The Hong Kong-based Morning Post said Xuexi Qiangguo was another way the Chinese government was using technology “to strengthen its ideological control in China.”

The notice from the media oversight office says journalists who fail the test will have one chance to take it again, but without passing, there is no other way to get a state press pass. When the app first launched, journalists were required to download it and register accounts with their real names.

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After complaints, using the app – which roughly translates to “Study Xi, Strong Nation” – no longer became mandatory, but it remained encouraged. The app keeps track of user data, including points that can be won by using the app, which is accessible by the Chinese propaganda department. It has been compared to Mao Zedong’s “Little Red Book” in digital form.

An editor who did not wish to be identified told the Morning Post that he was confident he’d be able to pass the test.

“I’m very good at this kind of stuff – I cover it every day pretty much,” he said. “I’m confident that I won’t fail.”

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