China’s Communist Party is all in on the power of technology

(Quartz),Josh Horwitz

In the southern Chinese metropolis of Shenzhen, young men and women dart in and out of gleaming silver high rises that house offices for countless local startups in the city’s Nanshan neighborhood. At lunch time, crowds gather at artisanal cafes with names like “Inno Valley” and “Tea + Maker.” Also sprinkled throughout this ultra-modern tech park: cheerful Communist Party propaganda.


Ads promoting the latest mobile phone brand appear next to signs urging pedestrians to join the Communist Youth League. Street-art style renditions of the hammer and sickle pepper the plaza walkway. Across the street from Tencent’s soon-to-open headquarters sits a new sculpture that arrived in the months ahead of the just-concluded 19th party congress. It’s a metal cube that features the slogan: “Follow our party, start your business.”

Ubiquitous brand messaging from the party that once warned against the “spontaneous forces of capitalism” might seem out of place at a technology park. But the artwork at Shenzhen Software Industry Base is the perfect symbol for the Communist Party’s growing interest in both expanding and controlling China’s tech and internet sectors.

At the 19th party congress, president Xi Jinping said in a speech that sets the tone for the years ahead that China would “develop a market-oriented system for technological innovation in which enterprises are the main players.” At the same time, for the party to be “politically strong,” he said it must “adeptly apply information technology, including the internet, in our work.”

Under Xi, the party has played a more active role in encouraging tech and internet entrepreneurship. The stakes are high. Growth has slowed in China, and it must restructure its economy away from its inefficient coal and steel sectors. The high tech and internet sectors mark a new opportunity to provide jobs for the next generation of Chinese citizens, and also grow new globally recognized multinational corporations.

Eve Adrianna
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Evonne is a Jr editor who is an aspiring actress and news reporter. She enjoys being on social media and socializing with others.