CPC Party seminar emphasizes unity of thought among well-known online figures
Global Times


A Beijing Zhihu user checks the website on Wednesday.(Photo: Global Times)

"As a non-Party-member intellectual, the seminar gave me a good chance to familiarize myself with the Party's new policies. I know more about how to spread information online, especially on positive energy," said Lu Qi, an online celebrity and writer who has 26 million followers on Sina Weibo.
Lu mainly posts female-friendly articles and videos on his Weibo account.
Lu was just one of the 52 online representatives who attended the seminar held by the United Front Work Department (UFWD) of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee at the Central Institute of Socialism from March 18 to 24.
Other attendees included well-known online managers and celebrities, such as Wang Xiaochuan, CEO of Chinese search engine Sogou, Zhou Yuan, CEO of Q&A website Zhihu, and we-media owner Xu Shen, co-founder of yingguobaojie. 
Lu told the Global Times on Tuesday that he was invited mainly because of his ability to quickly spread information. His attendance was widely applauded by his followers, the online writer said. 
"My followers are very patriotic. They believe the nation's stability brings them benefits as well," he added.
According to Lu, the interaction with officials from the UFWD was very relaxed. "It's like we were making friends. I'm glad that I was included in the united front work," he added.
Shaping ideology 
One of the UFWD's responsibilities is to study the state of intellectuals, coordinate their relationship with the Party and foster non-Party representatives among intellectuals.  The UFWD plays a role in uniting people from different fields, including business and religious figures, Su Wei, a professor at the Party School of the Chongqing Committee, told the Global Times. 
Holding seminars will shape China's mainstream ideology and bring correct socialist values to netizens, Su added.
At the seminar, representatives were arranged to attend group discussions, field teaching and after-class discussions during a week-long workshop. Leaders in government departments and university experts were also invited to discuss Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and the spirit of the 19th National Congress of the CPC. 
The seminar also covered knowledge of the united front work of the new social class, the political, economic and social situation domestically and internationally and policies related to managing internet industry.
Lu told the Global Times that communications professors from Tsinghua University, officials from the Cyberspace Administration of China and teachers on the Party's history were invited to give classes to the 52 students.
Normally, one class was held in the morning and one in the evening, while group discussions were held at night, Lu said. 
Representatives also received education on patriotism and Chinese revolutionary tradition, including at the old site of the CPC central committee in Pingshan county, Hebei Province, the old site of the UFWD in Lijiazhuang, Hebei Province and the Xibaipo gallery hall. 
Magic weapon
"As a we-media platform, we have been committing our efforts to spreading positive energy and taking social responsibility in China and foreign exchanges, which are also in line with the requirements of the UFWD," said Xu Shen, the co-founder and COO of Lady Britannia Studio, well known as yingguobaojie, a we-media account on content related to overseas studies that has 15 million followers on Sina Weibo. Xu told the Global Times on Wednesday the week-long study was substantial.
Like Lu, Xu is also a non-Party member. Only a few of their classmates at the seminar are Party members. 
In the new era when everyone can be a media messenger, the UFWD "is attempting to mobilize positive forces, and turn disadvantages into advantages," Su said.
"There are a number of opinion leaders online who often hold negative attitudes and may have conflicts with society's ideology solely due to misunderstandings, but essentially, they can be united as the target of the united front work," Shen Yi, deputy director of the cyberspace management center of Fudan University said.
Online representatives are considered a new social class, a group mainly composed of those who work for organizations or professions that came into being after China's reform and opening up drive starting in 1978, Xinhua News Agency reported.
According to Su, "united front work" has long been a Party tradition, hailed as one of the "magic weapons" of the Party, together with Party construction."
The united front work on cyberspace will standardize the nation's network supervision, Shen said.