16 Fifty Cent Party – 五毛党 (Wǔmáo dǎng)

C. M. Clark

  simplified Chinese: 五毛党; pinyin: Wǔmáo dǎng 

Fifty Cent Party

The Fifty Cent Party, also known as the Fifty Cent Army, is a designation given to internet commentators who are on the Chinese Communist Party’s payroll. Initially created during the Internet’s initial rollout in mainland China, this initiative financially rewards internet posters who spread government propaganda. The name originates from the idea that members of the Party are paid fifty renminbi for each post, roughly equivalent to $0.07 USD.


Though the name would suggest otherwise, the Fifty Cent Party isn’t a centralized group with a specific agenda. Online, these posters only have the general purpose of spreading CCP propaganda, silencing negative discussions about the party online and discrediting political enemies with disinformation and insults. Much of this results in criticism directed at America specifically and the West in general, and the dissemination of anti-Taiwanese sentiments. Despite the rumors about their financial compensation for the posts, many who fall under the banner of the Fifty Cent Party proclaim they do so of their own volition.


The local propaganda department for the Chinese Communist Party situated in Changsha began officially recruiting internet commentators for their purposes in October 2004. In the following years, this practice expanded after Hu Jintao called for “a reinforcement of ideological and public opinion front construction and positive publicity.” Local governments all over the country began recruiting veritable armies of internet commentators to push back against negative coverage of government activities, including the handling of the H1N1 virus and the self-immolation of Pan Rong.


Today, the Fifty Cent Party is estimated to have tens of thousands of members, with some estimates reaching the hundreds of thousands. Most of these people are college-aged young adults specializing in political theory and internet use, affiliated with local party apparatuses. Prospective members are contacted and trained by the Ministry of Culture, who administer an exam to determine whether they have what it takes. At the behest of the Information Office, all major Chinese websites under state ownership have a trained team of commentators ready to counteract dissent and control narratives. These operatives are occasionally tasked with monitoring American social media and other websites that serve as channels for information.


In the wider world of Chinese cyberspace, the term “Fifty Center” is used derogatorily by reform advocates to call out those with evident pro-CCP bias, regardless of their occupation. To refer to the lingo of the wider Internet, the phrase’s use is very similar to that of the word tankie. What makes the Fifty Cent Party so remarkable as an organization however is the role it plays as an instrument of information warfare in the modern Chinese political landscape.



Lau, Joyce. “Who Are the Chinese Trolls of the ‘50 Cent Army’?” Voice of America, October 10, 2016. https://www.voanews.com/a/who-is-that-chinese-troll/3540663.html.

Harvard, Political  Review. “China’s Fifty Cent Party.” Harvardpolitics.com, February 7, 2012. https://harvardpolitics.com/chinas-fifty-cent-party/.


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Fifty Cent Party - 五毛党 (Wǔmáo dǎng) Copyright © 2024 by C. M. Clark is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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