Xi Jinping’s goal is to redraw China’s social contract


China politics and policy updates

The blizzard of new regulations, speeches, and policies from China in recent weeks seems to be driven by what Beijing calls “changes unseen in a century.” This is the code for the rise of China and the relative decline of Western power led by the United States. The instability that this shift in the global order may cause has prompted Beijing to preemptively strengthen its own strength by addressing internal and external vulnerabilities.

Sometimes these remarks sound like explosions from the history of the Chinese revolution. For example, this week, China’s authoritarian leader Xi Jinping advocated “struggle” in a speech delivered by the People’s Daily. He said: “It is unrealistic to expect a peaceful life without struggle.” “We must safeguard China’s sovereignty, security and development interests with unprecedented determination.”

The purpose seems to be to advance multiple goals at the same time, some of which overlap, while others do not.While advocating for “common prosperity”, Beijing is issuing opposition Social inequalityWhile emphasizing the “double cycle”, it seeks to reduce its dependence on foreign markets.In terms of promoting family values, part of the reason is that women want to choose Have more children. By cracking down on after-school tutoring and video games, it hopes to alleviate the financial and emotional pressure of the family.

Some measures are commendable.Ban controversial “996” overtime policyMany employees in the technology industry work six days a week, from 9 am to 9 pm, which suggests that Beijing may really intend to improve China’s large population of low-income workers. Restricting after-school tutoring can reduce the chronic stress of millions of sleep-deprived children.

So far, the response to some of Beijing’s moves has been impressive. On Thursday, the Chinese tech giant Alibaba, Commitment to invest USD 15.5 billion Support Beijing’s “shared prosperity” agenda in terms of economic and social development by 2025. The amount promised last month is in line with similar promises made by rival Tencent.

But there are also dangers. The admonition to “struggle”, combined with the campaign-style nature of certain decisions, may shut down rational debates and incite the hypocritical loyalty of officials, impairing the quality of decision-making over time.

Some announcements have become too simplistic. The rules that restrict children from playing video games for three hours a week can be difficult to enforce. When the masses are disobeyed and out of control, the government’s credibility will decline.

The greater risk is that various attacks on the vibrant technology industry have spawned prejudice against private companies. Almost all technology companies that have been under regulatory scrutiny in recent weeks—such as Alibaba, Tencent, Meituan, Didi, etc.—are private companies.

Campaign-oriented policy methods can easily spread to radicalism. Wealth redistributionFor example, the adoption of a legislative amendment to the tax law in China will be better achieved. Taxes on property sales, inheritance and some other manifestations of wealth will be seen as transparent and fair. This is a path that Beijing may not yet decide to take.

Xi Jinping seems to intend to redraw China’s social contract. The old adage that some people “get rich first” is giving way to a fairer creed. This may ultimately benefit approximately 600 million Chinese people, whose monthly income is approximately US$154 or less. But if activism undermines this good intention, China will face a darker future.


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