China’s nanny country: why Xi Jinping wants to crack down on games and private teachers

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Extra courses purchased by Wang Gang to help his only child prepare for China’s rigorous university exams, or gaokao, It’s not cheap. In addition to the group lessons of the private education company, he also paid 6,000 yuan (US$927) for his daughter to take one-on-one math and physics lessons with a retired teacher during the one-month winter vacation.

Wang, who lives in Baoding, an industrial center in the central part of Hebei Province, said: “We are just an ordinary family, but we cannot have any regrets about the education of our daughter.” gaokao. This is too important. This will basically determine her life and career. “

However, at the end of last month, the Chinese government announced that parents like Wang have piled too much work on their children.In a shocking decree that shocked the country stock market and China Education Company Stock Price Listed in New York, President Xi Jinping’s government announces strict new restrictions The coaching company has completely reshaped an industry with annual sales of more than 100 billion U.S. dollars.

A large number of tutoring services

16.6%

According to a 2017 study by Peking University, the percentage of all educational expenses used by rural households for tutoring

44.2%

The same study shows that the expenditure on tutoring in China’s first-tier cities as a percentage of all education expenditures

30%

The average annual growth of the after-school tutoring market in 2017-19, with sales reaching 800 billion yuan

This week, Xi Jinping’s nanny country appears to be targeting another lucrative industry, video games, which China’s president has previously criticized for increasing “the incidence of student myopia.”

On Tuesday, an official newspaper published a comment criticizing online video games as “mental opium.” This term is a particularly heavy term for the Communist Party of China. Its history emphasizes “hundred years of humiliation.” It began when China was defeated by the British Empire in the First Opium War in 1839-42 and ended with the party’s revolutionary victory in 1949. .Even without any new regulations for education companies like a week ago, the stock is in Tencent, China’s largest online game provider, Fell nearly 11%.

The controversy over tutoring and video games provides a window into the increasing pressure and pressure of middle-class life in China’s big cities. To outsiders, the world’s second-largest economy often appears ruthless, immune to even the worst epidemic in a century, and as prosperity spreads rapidly in society, consumer spending continues to grow substantially.

But for many residents in large cities, their lives are full of anxiety, which masks a broader sense of progress-on the surface Unattainable housing prices arrive Greenhouse pressure Make sure to provide their children with the best education and get coveted places in top universities.

The president seems to believe that the stake of Xi Jinping’s repression lies in the party’s ability to maintain unchallenged political control, which ultimately depends on its ability to meet the so-called “people’s demand for a happier life”
The president seems to believe that the stake of Xi Jinping’s suppression is the party’s ability to maintain unchallenged political control, which ultimately depends on its ability to meet the so-called “people’s needs for a happier life” © Naohiko Hatta/Getty Images

Behind this, almost every ambitious parent is worried that their children might get tired of competitions and seek refuge in the world of video games and the Internet, and Xi Jinping once harbored so much “dirty stuff”.

Due to parents’ anxiety, the party’s response is to adopt a nanny state strategy, which may reverse the content of the contract established with urban residents over the past 40 years in order to steadily reduce interference in their private lives.

“It is the anxiety of parents that has promoted the popularity of extracurricular tutoring,” said Christina Chu, an economist at Moody’s Analytics in Singapore. “This anxiety stems from the uneven quality of schools, fierce competition, and may even lack confidence in the social security system.”

Xi Jinping seems to believe that the key lies in the party’s ability to maintain unchallenged political control, which ultimately depends on its ability to meet the president’s “people’s need for a happier life”.

Number of people crowded

Shenzhen apartment building

twenty four

Beijing’s annual housing price-to-income ratio. In Shenzhen’s Science and Technology Center, it’s 40; in Shanghai, it’s 26

40%

According to data from China’s largest housing intermediary agency, the rent paid by recent graduates as a percentage of salary

4.7%

In June, the average annual increase of new house prices in China’s 70 largest cities. 0.5% in May

In 2011, when he was the vice president, Xi Jinping told his American counterpart Joe Biden that the Arab Spring that swept North Africa and the Middle East had broken out because the government had lost contact with the people, according to two Americans. Diplomats familiar with communication.

At the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China held in November 2012, marking the beginning of his first term, Xi Jinping admitted that the people’s views on “better education, more stable jobs, higher income, more reliable social security and Higher standards of medical care, more comfortable living conditions and cleaner environment”.

Xi Jinping and the party have now stated that in order to achieve this goal, they are willing to subvert the entire industry and go deep into the personal level of people’s lives, such as how to educate and raise children. Soon after Xi Jinping criticized video games for damaging children’s eyesight in 2018, the Ministry of Education recommended that children should not spend more than one hour of non-educational screen time per day.

“Xi Jinping has made it clear that he wants every policy area to obey the party’s leadership,” said Zeng Zhiwei, director of the Soas China Institute in London.

The students leave private after-school classes in Beijing.Tutoring in China is an industry with an annual output value of 100 billion U.S. dollars
The students leave private after-school classes in Beijing. Private tutoring in China is an industry with an annual output value of 100 billion U.S. dollars © Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images

‘A stubborn disease’

In recent weeks, the Xi Jinping administration has stated that as the party expands its tentacles into new areas, it is not too concerned about the collateral damage that investors may suffer. “If Beijing considers it to be politically necessary, it will overhaul the entire business environment without hesitation,” said Long Chen of Beijing consulting firm Plenum. “All sectors related to the provision of public goods that have traditionally been regarded as non-profits will face greater risks.”

Xi Jinping told a group of educators in March that the industry is “a stubborn disease that is difficult to manage”, which indicates that China will take action against the booming tutoring industry. The president added: “Parents want their children to be physically and mentally healthy and have a happy childhood.” “On the other hand, they are afraid that their children will lose before they reach the starting line… This problem must be resolved. Education should not focus too much on scores. “

Ironically, Moody’s Zhu said that some of the biggest economic victims Xi Jinping suppresses education According to China’s online recruitment platform Zhilian Zhilian Recruitment, they will be fresh university graduates. Their average monthly salary last year was only RMB 5,290. “The private tuition department provides millions of jobs,” she said. “In 2020, the entire education industry accounted for 17% of the number of graduates employed, the highest among all industries.”

For most recent graduates, it is impossible to buy an apartment in the most ideal city in China. According to data from real estate research agency EJ Real Estate, last year, the average annual housing price-to-income ratio of Shenzhen, the high-tech center that borders Hong Kong, was 40, Shanghai was 26, and Beijing was 24. Cities with ratios of 10 or lower are generally experiencing population exodus and offer few attractive employment opportunities.

People play computer games in an Internet cafe in Fuyang. President Xi Jinping’s goal is the video game industry, and he criticized the industry for increasing the
People play computer games in an Internet cafe in Fuyang. President Xi Jinping’s goal is the video game industry, and he criticized the industry for increasing “student myopia” © Lu Qijian/VCG/Getty Images

Housing intermediary agency Lianjia Beike estimates that current graduates now spend more than 40% of their income on rent.

In addition to worrying that some children are doing too much to prepare for the imminent pressures of Chinese urban life, officials and parents are also concerned about a completely different phenomenon, that young people choose to respond to increasing social pressures. Tangping -Or Lie flat -And withdraw from the world.

Another concept is Popular in China this year It is “involution”, an anthropological term used to describe the process by which some societies fail to realize their maximum economic potential.In Chinese, the term is translated as nei juan, Means curling or turning inward.

A few years ago, when her daughter transferred from kindergarten to elementary school, Beijing parents Che Rui enrolled her daughter in Chinese math and English tuition classes provided by some of China’s largest tutoring companies. He welcomed the government’s crackdown on the industry, but still worried about how to keep his daughter active and motivated outside school.

“The tutoring company deliberately creates anxiety,” Che said, noting that even after the government severely cracked down on the industry last month, education providers continued to bomb him with sales information. “All discounts and benefits will expire at midnight,” a sales agent warned him via the messaging app WeChat, if he is not in a hurry to sign up for additional courses for his daughter. “I hope you don’t regret it.”

Pedestrians walk past apartment buildings in Beijing.Private tutoring is a big employer of recent graduates. It is estimated that they spend more than 40% of their income on renting a house. For them, it is impossible to buy an apartment in the most ideal city in China.
Pedestrians walk past apartment buildings in Beijing. Private tutoring is a big employer of recent graduates. It is estimated that they spend more than 40% of their income on renting a house. It is impossible to buy an apartment in China’s most desirable city © Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Che said he is considering enrolling his daughter in swimming, music and other entertainment courses, which are still officially encouraged by the government. “I don’t want her to turn inwards,” he added.

University anxiety

However, many analysts and parents believe that Xi Jinping is addressing symptoms rather than diseases— gaokao The system itself.

Father Wang, who arranges winter vacation tuition for his teenage daughter in Baoding, said, “Even if there is a ban, I will still hire a private tutor to solve this problem.” During that time, the 6,000 yuan he spent on homeschooling was equivalent to about 40% of his family’s monthly income, which was almost a quarter of the city’s average per capita disposable income of 25,200 yuan.

“If you don’t let your children study during the holidays, other parents with more resources will leave your children behind. Imposing simple solutions to complex problems won’t work,” he added. “It just closed the door for ordinary families.”

Another richer Chinese father with two teenage children did not want to be named. He said: “Some parents may cheer for the suppression, but the problem is gaokao And the university admission system”.

“Anxiety will not go away because you no longer participate in competitions,” said the father, who went to college in the United States and also educated children outside of China. “Are you rich enough for one-on-one tutoring if you have a relationship? Online education is the starting point for ordinary people. Unless the government completely reforms the education system, their anxiety will soon come back.

“Look at South Korea, Japan and Taiwan,” he added. “When will family education disappear in Asian culture?”

Additional reporting by Liu Xinning, Wang Xueqiao and Edward White

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