Friday, November 19, 2021
The episode would be humorous, if it weren’t so frightening. China today is in the grip of the most concerted government campaign to assert greater control over society in decades, perhaps since the tumultuous days of Mao Zedong. The edict restricting when kids can play video games is just part of a barrage launched by Xi’s administration in recent months across both business regulation and mundane daily life. Chinese companies face more hurdles to listing on public stock markets abroad and education providers are no longer allowed to offer online lessons run with foreign teachers, while local television bars men whose hairstyles are deemed insufficiently masculine.
Taken together, this deluge of dictates can be viewed as one element of Xi’s broader agenda to mold a new Chinese society that will be instilled with proper socialist values—as he defines them—purged of corrupting individualism and other bad habits that have seeped in from foreign (read: Western) cultures, and thus girded for the next phase of national struggle: the quest for global greatness.