Chinese Technology Moguls' Latest Obsession: Red Tourism
(Bloomberg) -- China’s internet watchdog rallied the founders and Communist Party representatives of 45 startups for a “study tour” celebrating the life of Mao Zedong, as Beijing tightens its grip on the country’s largest internet firms.
The chief executive officers of companies including Tencent Holdings Ltd.-backed Zhihu -- China’s answer to Quora -- and the head of the Party branch at live-streaming giant Kuaishou took part in a tour this week to the southeastern province of Fujian. There they visited key historical sites that commemorate military achievements by the ruling party during its guerrilla warfare era in the 1930s, a local paper reported. Tour members sent flowers to a park built in honor of the late Party Chairman, and visited conference and historical sites across Fujian to “imbue themselves in the red revolutionary spirit,” the publication said.
China has applied increasing pressure on the country’s social media and internet companies, which help scrape the web clean of information deemed vulgar or critical of the ruling party. The country’s richest tech billionaires, including Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma and Tencent supremo Pony Ma, have rushed to pledge allegiance to President Xi Jinping as he consolidates power on a level not seen in three decades.
As China’s cyber watchdog steps up the frequency of crackdowns -- including by halting operations of internet operators -- companies have bolstered their efforts to study Party history and ideology as a means to appease regulators. Social media giant Tencent, which endured its biggest loss of market value on record during a 2018 clampdown on games, has stepped up self-policing efforts, ridding its games of gore while promoting messages that champion the country’s military apparatus.
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