CensorshipMobile AppsMobilityRegulationWorkspace

Chinese Government’s RedPad Android Tablet Attracts Internet Ire

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

Follow on: Google +

Chinese Communist Party officials to get a £1000 Android tablet with bespoke apps, developed secretly for two years

A tablet targeted at members of the Chinese Communist Party has attracted criticism in the country.

The RedPad tablet has been under secret development for two years, but has attracted criticism for its high price and questions have been raised about how it will be funded.

Luxury Item

Adverts and state articles for the device began appearing in Chinese state media last month and fhave shown apps tailored to government officials. These include a “daily political reference” app which provides information on the political institutions of senior policymakers on a need-to-know basis, an “E-Politics Square” app which lets users track posts made by senior leaders on Weibo, and content from the party’s People’s Daily mouthpiece.

The Android-based tablet boasts an A9 dual-core processor, 16GB of flash storage and Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, but it is unclear who manufactured it.

It also features an “internet public opinion” which allows the user to track public feedback on micro-blogging services such as Weibo, a service which costs a considerable 3,800 yuan (£391) on top of the already eye-watering price of 9,999 Yuan (£1,029).

Socially Inactive

According to The Wall Street Journal, the staggering cost of the device has led to China’s online community to post scathing criticism on micro-blogging sites such as Weibo. Questions have also been raised about who is going to fund the device and has led to accusations of the widespread use of public funds to pay for gifts for party members. The release of the tablet ahead of next week’s Year of the Dragon holiday, a time of gift-giving in China, has strengthened these accusations.

The Chinese government has become increasingly concerned about micro-blogging services like Weibo and has moved to tighten the governance of their use. In December last year, it announced that it was going to require users to register using their real names in an attempt to clamp down on online dissidence.

This forms part of a wider campaign which has seen 350 million pieces of ‘harmful information’ deleted by its ‘Great Firewall’ and services such as Flickr, TouTube, Facebook and Skype banned in the country. China has defended its right to censor the internet, despite American pressure, saying that it was necessary to “safeguard the public”.