Chinese President Xi Jinping

Following the success of a talk-show on the theory of socialism, China’s most popular entertainment channel Hunan Television has launched a quiz show that focuses on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era, the thought of Chinese President Xi Jinping that has been enshrined into the Constitution.

Hunan TV, which has a youthful audience, released the first season of Socialism Is Kind of Cool in the form of talk-show in October 2017. It had six episodes and invited some Marxism experts to elaborate on representative figures and stories of the ideology.

The experts discussed the book The Communist Manifesto, the stories of Marx and Engels, and the reasons that caused the disintegration of the former Soviet Union.

The last two episodes of the show focused on socialism with Chinese characteristics, the superiority of the socialist path, and the theoretical framework behind Xi’s signature concept of the Chinese Dream.

According to media reports, since it was aired, the show has topped the list of programs in its category and also created a wave of interest. Many universities held seminars and speech contests to share their feelings about the show and their perceptions of socialism.

In January, a think tank that specializes in studying Socialism Is Kind of Cool was established at Changsha University of Science and Technology in Hunan Province, Central China. It is the first research center of its kind in China. The show was also met with high praise from Chinese mainstream media including the People’s Daily and Guangming Daily.

For a new era

Following the fervor of the talk show, the second season made a debut in the first week of October this year. It used a new format, a quiz show, to focus on Xi’s thought and the connotations of the socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era.

The second season, titled Study Session in the New Era, garnered contestants who are teachers and university students from the country’s top academic institutions.

In each 40-minute episode, three contestants sit in a virtual spaceship and compete with each other to explore topics like the origins of Xi’s thought, and the changes they will bring to China.

The spaceship takes them to historical places with revolutionary significance, such as the red boat in Jiaxing, East China Zhejiang Province. In 1921, the First National Congress of the Communist Party of China was successfully held on a boat in Jiaxing South Lake, marking the birth of the Party.

A virtual robot, named “2050” (the year Xi has envisioned China becoming a leading global power), asks questions. For example, one question asked the contestants to come up with a country that has a population equal to the number of people China has raised out of poverty since 2012.

The two contestants with the highest scores enter the next round, during which they listen to excerpts of Xi’s speeches and press a buzzer to be the first to explain the meaning of a term.

In the last segment of the show, the contestants are required to make a speech in 100 seconds on a topic such as, “What changes have been brought by the new era thought?” The audiences and two professors jointly decide the final score.

A 22-year-old woman surnamed Li from Changsha, Hunan Province, who is a loyal fan of Hunan TV told the Global Times that she watched the show with her mother, and her mother became very excited and involved, trying to compete with her daughter to answer the questions.

Another audience member surnamed Zhang said that the show could be a perfect chance for her to prepare for her upcoming graduate examination. “It helped me review the key knowledge points in the political test,” she said.

Zhang Guozuo, director of Chinese Cultural Soft Power Research Center and dean of Marxism College at Hunan University, is one of the professors who appeared on the show.

Zhang told the Global Times on Friday that “Marxism is the source of the Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. Deep down, it is about remembering the original ideas, facing the future, remaining down-to-earth, and carrying forward Marxist theory in China.”

The contestants and audiences were very passionate and active. Contestants prepared carefully and their performances were great, said Zhang.

Though their understanding of Xi’s thought was not profound, they were quite familiar with Xi’s classic quotes and slogans, said Zhang, adding that he believes they will have deeper knowledge with correct guidance.

The quiz show attracted young Chinese to learn more about Xi’s thought, which has important and realistic significance in guiding China’s future, Wu Bo, a research fellow at the Academy for Social Sciences Evaluation under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

The next step for China is to combine theory and reality close together to fully demonstrate the hardship in exploring the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, Wu said.

(In Association with Global Times, China)