China’s largest ride-hailing company, Didi Chuxing, has launched a branding initiative that allows drivers who are Communist Party members to publicize their membership through its app and on their car’s dashboard.

Travelers using Didi may encounter dashboard stickers announcing their driver’s Communist Party membership. (Picture: Weibo)

The company, China’s equivalent of Uber, said in a social media article on Friday that the Red Flag Steering Wheel program was launched for drivers to promote the virtues of party membership.

“The profile photos [on the app] of the drivers will have a red background and a party emblem to identify them as a party member,” the Weibo article said.

“[The program] aims to distribute the latest directions and policies of the party to [Didi] drivers through offline and online activities, and to help them learn and be active members of the party community,” it said.

“We want to raise awareness among drivers of [providing a better] service and ensuring safer and more comfortable transport for the public.”

Customers booking online with Didi can see if their driver is a party member and part of the Red Flag Steering Wheel program. (Picture: Weibo)

A company spokesman on Tuesday said the program was voluntary.

The Didi article said some drivers in cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen had already taken part in patriotic education classes online.

But not everyone was convinced. Some commenters on Chinese social media saw it as a gimmick aimed at trying to repair the company’s reputation after two young women were killed by Didi drivers last year.

After a storm of anger and demands for improved customer safety, Didi stepped up its security measures. These included mandatory facial recognition scanning for drivers, suspension of the Hitch ride-pooling service and a new button for the Didi app that allows passengers to contact the police.

On social network Weibo, one user suggested the company introduce a Good Samaritan sticker “for drivers who have done charitable work and are enthusiastic” about their jobs.

Another said: “Party members should set the example of doing a good job at work and loving their profession.”

There was a mixed response on social media to Didi’s Red Flag Steering Wheel Communist Party program. (Picture: Reuters)

Founded in 2012, Didi Chuxing is now China’s leading ride-hailing company with more than 21 million registered drivers. Alibaba, which owns the South China Morning Post, has a stake in the company.

As of the end of 2018, there were more than 90 million Communist Party members in China and more than 4.6 million branches and organisations, according to a party report. That number increased by 2 million every year, it said.