An Inside Look at a 50 Cent Party Meeting

So-called Fifty Cent Party members are Internet commentators paid to post comments that spin stories in the government’s favor to “guide public opinion.” Their name stems from their purported payment — 50 cents per post.

Following images of “fifty cent party” are being circulated among Chinese netizens and translated by CDT:

To all Party committees and departments:

On the afternoon of April 16, 2009, Xinhua Net will release information regarding “Guangdong Provincial CPPCC Chairman Chen Shaoji, Zhejiang Provincial Discipline Inspection Commission Secretary Wang Huayuan Suspected of Serious Disciplinary Violations.” In order to guide public opinion (舆论引导工作), follow the unified deployment plan proclaimed in the classroom of the [Central] Commission for Discipline and Inspection. Put forward the following requirements:

1. Each Party committee and department should organize discipline & supervision of Internet commentators to create posts regarding Chen’s and Wang’s investigation. Focus areas are Sina, People Online, other central news websites, as well as Sina, Sohu, NetEase, TenCent, and other commercial websites. Make repeated postings on [sites] containing related news or reports to guide online public opinion effectively.

2. The following are important points regarding the direction of [public opinion] guidance: (1) central authorities are extremely resolute and strong in their campaign against corruption; (2) anyone who violates discipline or the law will be thoroughly investigated, as all are equal before party guidelines and state law; (3) as regards Chen and Wang, neither blot out their former achievements, nor excuse their disciplinary violations – let achievements be achievements, and violations be violations; (4) prevent corrupt individuals previously investigated by [Chen and Wang] from using this opportunity to overturn their verdicts; (5) anti-corruption action’s reach is limitless, discipline and inspection cadre leaders who violate regulations will be investigated — this shows the Central authorities’ stance against corruption; (6) news distribution by central and provincial authorities is for the attention of the online public, etc.

3. For local websites that republish news or related reports on this story, do the work of guiding online opinion; you have the responsibility of taking care of your own territory.

4. Only post comments and follow-up comments, do not write commentaries.

5. Each Party committee and department must post at least 5 follow-up comments and one substantive post, to be reported to the regional Discipline and Inspection commission classroom.

6. Before April 25, each Party committee and department will send all posts, and also indicate the number of follow-up posts, choice posts, their length, their number of characters, their organizational clarity, and their richness of content.

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How do ordinary netizens think about “fifty cent party” members and their work? Here is a spoof advertisement from the Government Scandal website, translated by CDT:

Love to hide, do not love the truth
Love to comment, also love to be highlighted
Love to guide public opinion, and love even more to pretend to be netizen
My ten fingers are black
I do not have eyes
Who am I? You cannot see me.
I am an Internet commentator
I am a member of the Fifty Cent Party

Read more about the Fifty Cent Party via CDT.