BEIJING (AP) — An avalanche of changes launched by China’s ruling Communist Party has jolted everyone from tech billionaires to school kids. Behind them: President Xi Jinping’s vision of making a more powerful, prosperous country by reviving revolutionary ideals, with more economic equality and tighter party control over society and entrepreneurs.
Since taking power in 2012, the party has spent nearly a decade silencing dissent and tightening political control. Now, after 40 years of growth that transformed China into the world’s factory but left a gulf between a wealthy elite and the poor majority, the party is promising to spread prosperity more evenly and is pressing private companies to pay for social welfare and back Beijing’s ambition to become a global technology competitor.
To support its plans, Xi’s government is trying to create what it deems a more wholesome society by reducing children’s access to online games and banning “sissy men” who are deemed insufficiently masculine from TV.
Chinese leaders want to “direct the constructive energies of all people in one laser-focused direction selected by the party,” Andrew Nathan, a Chinese politics specialist at Columbia University, said in an email.
Beijing has launched anti-monopoly and data security crackdowns to tighten its control over Internet giants, including e-commerce platform Alibaba Group and games and social media operator Tencent Holdings Ltd., that looked too big and potentially independent.
In response, their billionaire founders have scrambled to show loyalty by promising to share their wealth under Xi’s vaguely defined “common prosperity” initiative to narrow the income gap in a country with more billionaires than the United States.