Chapter 10 Tightening Social Control under the 100th Anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party
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Since November 2020, China has introduced more than 50 regulations on anti- trust, Internet and data security, finance and education, as well as culture and entertainment, and the news industry, far more frequently than in previous years. Online technology giants such as Ant Group have been subject to rectification; the ride-hailing platform DiDi, the logistics platforms Yunmanman and Huochebang, and the job bank Boss Direct Hire were investigated subsequent to the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party in July 2021. China’s Ministry of Education issued a “Double Reduction” education policy, “tainted celebrities” are being blacklisted and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) imposed a ban on non-publicly owned capital in the news media business. The Western press and academics have leveled severe criticism that Xi Jinping’s move represents a relapse into the “leftist” ways. The Economist argues that Xi Jinping is mounting a campaign to sweep away capitalism, treating the growing disparity between rich and poor and the pollution of spiritual civilization as a mockery of Marxism, and therefore rolling out the notion of “common prosperity” to clean up private enterprises and raising the red banner of patriotism to clamp down on people’s voices and activities. However, China denies these claims, with Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin on September 8, 2021 stressing at a press conference that “The Chinese government has stepped up anti-monopoly regulation and cracked down on unfair competition behaviors to uphold the order of fair competition … Such efforts are the common practice of managing economic activities in many countries,” and that “Opening-up is China’s basic national policy that will never waver.”
On top of private enterprises, China has also issued stern warnings to specific groups in society, such as the military and social organizations. Xi Jinping insists that “the Party commands the gun” and that one should “firmly listen to the Party and follow the Party” to strengthen ideological and political education. To contribute to the creation of a safe social environment for the celebration of the centenary of the Communist Party of China, the Ministry of Civil Affairs of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has since March 2021 launched a three-and- a-half-month campaign to eradicate illegal social organizations, in the hope that the government-led public-private partnership can stem the “harm of illegal social organizations to society” at source and maintain social stability. Meanwhile, China has also made a concerted effort to Sinicize its ethnic minorities, dismissing “ethnic separatism” as a “pernicious influence” and underscoring the single identity of all ethnic groups with respect to the Chinese nation.
In the short run, as China’s 20th National People’s Congress in 2022 is drawing near, Xi Jinping’s re-election and staffing plans hinge on social stability. In the long run, China must eliminate risks in all areas before it can basically achieve the long- term goal of socialist modernization by 2035. Is the Chinese government’s strict crackdown on the financial, economic, cultural and media spheres an attempt by Xi Jinping to emulate Mao Zedong in his desire to establish a highly totalitarian regime by assuming control of order and authority, or is it a move to quell the opposition within the Party? Or is it a step-by-step move by the state to tighten its grip on society? This paper attempts to collect information on China’s tightened regulatory measures at all levels of society, and infer the factors behind the current wave of tougher regulatory requirements and future developments.
“China’s New Reality is Rife with Danger,” The Economist, October 2, 2021, https://bit.ly/3Ab3jcY.
 “Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Wang Wenbin Hosts a Regular Press Conference on September 8, 2021,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, September 8, 2021, https://www.fmprc. gov.cn/web/fyrbt_673021/jzhsl_673025/t1905563.shtml .