The Coronavirus Outbreak Could Derail Xi Jinping’s Dreams of a Chinese Century
...Soon after taking power, Xi announced his “China Dream” of a grand national rejuvenation, later speaking about returning China to “center stage of the world.” Far from embracing Western-style market reforms, Xi calcified state control over the economy and stocked its bureaucracy with flunkies and yes-men. Today party zealotry permeates all of Chinese society. The head of China’s national Film Bureau has ordered movies “must have a clear ideological bottom line and cannot challenge the political system.” China’s journalists have been instructed to follow “Marxist news values.” Artists can only produce works that “serve the people and socialism.” One advertisement for sperm donors required applicants ages 20 to 45 with “excellent ideological qualities” who “love the fatherland,” and are “loyal” to the party’s “mission.” Mao may have had his Little Red Book, but Xi has a personalized app distributed to all 90 million CCP members, with a directory of his speeches and quizzes on his life and political thought....
...The ideological revival behind Xi’s “China Dream” may have rendered the political system more decisive but also more prone to error. Under Mao, local officials were also hesitant to act until they had clear signals from the top. Rather than assess issues through a purely governance lens, China’s bureaucracy is forced to balance both technocratic and political concerns. Meanwhile nativist vigilantism spreads almost as fast as the virus...
China's Test (Feb 17 2020, TIME )
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