Chance to win e-hongbao by using Xi's catchphrases

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivering his 2016 New Year speech in Beijing on Dec 31, 2015.
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivering his 2016 New Year speech in Beijing on Dec 31, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING • China's Communist Party has found a new way to court tech-savvy Web users, setting phrases by President Xi Jinping as the password for electronic "red envelopes" of online cash offered ahead of the Chinese New Year.

In China, elderly family members traditionally give children red envelopes of cash during the holiday - which starts on Monday - to wish them good fortune.

With Chinese e-commerce booming, Internet giants Tencent and Alibaba have enabled users to send the money electronically, and the Communist Party has teamed up with both companies.

A total of 300,000 yuan (S$64,000) is being made available over three days on Alipay, the online payment service of Alibaba.

To stand a chance of collecting the money, users must get a pass-phrase from an account owned by the ruling party's powerful organisation department and run by the official Xinhua news agency on WeChat, Tencent's instant messaging service.

Yesterday's phrase was "You will earn what you worked for", following "As long as we persevere, dreams will come true" on Thursday - both from Mr Xi's 2016 New Year speech.

"Every effort you make will be rewarded twice as much in 2016," the organisation department, which is in charge of Communist Party members' promotions and demotions, said on the WeChat account yesterday.

Alibaba was contributing to the effort, it signalled, saying that the money "had nothing to do with party membership dues" and was instead "raised by Xinhua's website and Alipay on their own".

Yesterday's money was all gone within seconds of becoming available at 11am. But users were sceptical, with one poster on China's Twitter-like Weibo describing the exercise as "weird" and adding: "Party and government agencies just need to do their own job well."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 06, 2016, with the headline 'Chance to win e-hongbao by using Xi's catchphrases'. Print Edition | Subscribe