The Chinese government has a new hit on their hands. Chinese tech company, Tencent, released a mobile game called Excellent Speech: Clap for Xi Jinping, where players must “clap” after hearing a short snippet from an actual speech from Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The object of Clap for Xi Jinping is to clap–or tap the screen and make virtual hands clap– as many times as possible within the span 19 seconds after a short snippet from the President’s October 18th speech on economic reform plays. According to a Chinese social media tracking service, the game premiered and was played more than 400 million times before nightfall on the day of the speech. By the next day, that number had more than doubled to over a billion.
Though Clap for Xi Jinping may seem inherently sinister as it implies the value of clapping unconditionally for a leader without giving any critical thought as to what the leader is saying, it should be noted that the Chinese government is not behind this game. In fact, the President’s speech was considered by many to be so long and boring that actual officials checked their watches and dozed off during the speech itself. Though the developers have yet to state whether the game is meant to function as satire, it is clear that the government did not see this event as the awe-inspiring, exciting spectacle that the app does.
Even still, the prospect of clapping for political officials rather than their ideals is a dangerous one. Such activity has been seen before in dictatorial regimes such as North Korea and elevates the head of state in question to a higher power than his public office should allow. It promotes the person rather than the ideas, which in turn allows for issues with like abuse of power to take root. However, the game also presents an intriguing ideal; by incorporating snippets of a public speech into a mobile game, the developers are basically getting people who might not engage in politics to take notice of what their leaders are saying. It is a novel concept, but one that might benefit from a different context than unconditional clapping might allow.