The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

China’s new cultural revolution

A lot of parents and teachers in America jokingly wish they could ban kids from playing video games. In China, that’s no longer a joke.

All children under the age of 18 in China are now banned from playing online video games during the week. However, regulators have shown some mercy by allowing gaming on weekends (including Fridays) and holidays for one hour from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Ironically, this only makes gaming in China more anti-social as the regulations not only affect online gaming, but also renders hugely popular games like Fortnite, PUBG, Crossfire, Overwatch and Apex as unplayable.

More importantly, China has now required video game companies to enforce that players use their real names online, eliminating any privacy for Chinese gamers and allowing Chinese authorities to track if the new rules are being followed. 

These new regulations just show how even the smallest rules can be a backdoor for government control, especially considering the depth of change to all facets of life that is underway in China. Video games seem to be just the tip of the iceberg. 

Operating like the most strict and powerful parent in the world, the Chinese Communist Party and its leader Xi Jinping, have introduced a new “National Rejuvenation” campaign. State media in China announced multiple new initiatives designed to promote a “revolutionary culture,” nevermind the fact that the last Chinese Cultural Revolution led to the deaths of over a million people and the censorship of millions more. 

But what exactly will the new “revolutionary culture” of the Communist Party be? Chinese commentator Li Guangman asserts, “The capital market will no longer be a paradise for capitalists to get rich overnight,” and has espoused other harshly anti-capitalist and homophobic statements as well.

Why? Apparently the Communist Party is worried that the influence and popularity of K-pop and J-pop stars, many of whom come from China or join Chinese pop groups themselves, is negatively affecting Chinese celebrity culture and Chinese men. The government has directed that regulators should “vigorously promote excellent Chinese traditional culture.”

Celebrities in general have also been targeted in China for being decadent and out of step with the culture. Broadcasters must not promote “vulgar internet celebrities,” or boast about fame and fortune. This has resulted in purges straight out of Mao Zedong’s playbook. But instead of targeting political rivals, singers and actors are on the chopping block.

Under these new regulations, one of China’s largest social media websites, Weibo, axed thousands of celebrity fan clubs and entertainment news accounts on Aug. 27. Losing a social media account is nothing compared to the real purges, like that of A-list Chinese actress Zhao Wei, who not only had her accounts removed (her Weibo account has 85 million followers, which is 50 million more than President Biden’s Twitter) but even her name expunged from the credits of films and TV shows she has starred in.

While this censorship of major aspects of Chinese media and online culture from the Communist Party is terrifying alone in its goal of promoting a new revolutionary culture, it’s not just wealthy celebrities that are the target: it’s wealth in general.

 Having billionaires in a “communist” country is already a bad enough look, but one way to remedy this is to avoid talking about the economy. For example, China’s Cyberspace Administration has said it will regulate any news about Chinese economics it deems to be “malicious.”

What exactly this means in practice is anyone’s guess, but you can bet that articles about the stark economic inequality in China aren’t going to make the cut.

The World Bank estimates that China’s economic inequality is roughly on par with America’s, but even more damning is that highly competitive capitalist nations like South Korea and Germany have significantly lower economic inequality than China.

Instead of dealing with that reality though, the Communist Party can present its own alternative facts by simply not allowing the real news to be presented in the first place.

To anyone who has not closely followed Xi Jinping’s leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, these “1984”-esque regulations may seem like dystopian fiction. Unfortunately, this crackdown is only a return to what China was like before its economic “Reform and Opening.”

I only hope this second Cultural Revolution won’t be as destructive as the last.

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