President Xi Jinping’s wants to exert maximum control of Chinese culture as he tightens his grip on power and tries to leverage nationalist impulses in China. His latest national security law is another step in that process.
But in the long run he will weaken China, as this tightening of control makes the country less attractive to foreign investment. That may not matter much now, but in the future the bill on China’s many mistakes will come due, and this effort to control everything will likely backfire.
Strange things are happening in China as Xi tries to revive his vision of Chinese culture.
Chinese authorities are waging a war on American culture and the use of English. In April, China’s media regulators yanked the popular U.S. television shows The Big Bang Theory, NCIS, and The Good Wife from Chinese streaming websites Sohu (SOHU) and Youku (YOKU). The official party newspaper, People’s Daily, ran two editorials in April bemoaning the use of words borrowed from English when speaking Chinese. Then in mid-May came a flurry of reports in the state media confirming plans announced last fall to reduce the importance of English-language instruction and to expand courses on traditional culture in grade school and high school.
The implications will be interesting over time. China seems determined to loosen the US grip on world power and increase its own influence, but this may end up being counter-productive.
As the world becomes more open, it will become harder and harder for Chinese authorities to control what influences their people. I guess they think they shouldn’t be contributing to a trend they don’t like, but English is and will remain the international business language. Chinese is far too difficult as a language and it’s also inefficient. The rest of the world won’t bother learning it. If Chinese businessmen become less proficient in English, then they will just be less effective over time.
Chinese journalists are taking an understated approach to their calls for reform of China’s censorship laws.
As usual, the Chinese government is walking a tightrope here. They have huge problems on their hands with corruption and other problems, and a free press would force them to account for the problems. In the meantime, the press is growing more difficult to control, and you have social media as well adding more pressure. It will be fascinating to see how this progresses.
If you despise totalitarian government, you’re probably a fan of “V for Vendetta” if you’ve had the opportunity to see the film. If you love freedom, this film, and particularly the film above, will inspire you.
It’s for that reason that the news of out China today is so shocking. Somehow, the censors allowed this film to be broadcast in China. It was already an underground favorite, but now millions in China may be suddenly questioning their own government. We can only hope.
With all the massive growth in China, there are serious problems below the surface. The basic problem is that the huge national and local governments are corrupt and cronyism rules. This has led to huge real estate loans that make little sense.
Meanwhile, small businesses who legitimately need capital have to resort to a shadow banking system, and that poses a whole new set a problems. The Chinese government is trying to address the issue.
Risks stemming from China’s shadow banking system and private lending must be “strictly controlled,” and such loans will be curbed, the head of the nation’s banking regulator said.
Loans to local government financing vehicles and the real- estate industry, which also pose dangers for the banking system, can be managed, Liu Mingkang, chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission, said at a conference.
The government and regulators have already implemented “effective measures” that will ensure the overall risks are “controllable,” Liu said, according to a transcript of his speech posted on the regulator’s website yesterday.
Premier Wen Jiabao last week pledged to support smaller companies after media reports highlighted a credit squeeze that has driven many businesses to the so-called shadow banking system to obtain loans. More than 80 businessmen in the eastern city of Wenzhou have disappeared, committed suicide or declared bankruptcy to avoid repaying debts to informal lenders, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Oct. 12.
The story in China is much more complicated than you would learn from conventional wisdom and simple headlines.