China is going to war with scandal-hit celebrities who it deems ‘social tumours’ as part of a ‘profound revolution’ across the business, financial and cultural sectors, according to state media.
Experts say President Xi Jinping is launching an attack on post-Mao liberalisation, which along with capitalist free markets, opened people up to Western influences: a celebrity culture which promotes individualism rather than collectivism.
‘From the economic realm, the financial sector to the cultural circle, and to the political field, a profound transformation, or a profound revolution, is taking place,’ wrote nationalistic blogger Li Guangman.
‘This is a political transformation … returning to the original mission of the Communist Party of China, returning to the people centralism and returning to the essence of socialism.’
Li’s article, which referred to scandal-hit celebrities as ‘social tumours,’ was picked up by the People’s Daily, Xinhua news agency, PLA Daily, China Youth Daily, the China News Service and China Central Television.
The rare orchestrated move by all of the major propaganda outlets comes as Beijing attempts to crackdown not just on the Western values which a celebrity culture promotes, but the power wielded by a wealthy elite, which includes the billionaire owners of Chinese tech firms.
Actresses Zheng Shuang (left) and Zhao Wei. Billionaire actress Zhao Wei was wiped from the internet last week, with films and TV shows she starred in being removed from streaming services, without the government providing any reason. She is the latest star to find herself in Communist crosshairs, with actress Zheng Shuang fined $46 million for tax evasion on Friday.
A list of ‘misbehaving celebrities’ who are allegedly blacklisted by the Communist Party was circulated on social media last week. Zhao and Zheng were both on the list, along with Chinese Canadian pop star Kris Wu (pictured), who was arrested on suspicion of rape this month.
Billionaire actress Zhao Wei was wiped from the internet last week, with films and TV shows she starred in being removed from streaming services, without the government providing any reason.
She is the latest star to find herself in Communist crosshairs, with actress Zheng Shuang fined $46 million for tax evasion on Friday.
A list of ‘misbehaving celebrities’ who have allegedly been blacklisted by Beijing was circulated on social media last week.
Zhao, 45, and Zheng, 30, were both on the list, along with Chinese-Canadian pop star Kris Wu, who was arrested on suspicion of rape this month.
It comes after Jack Ma, the billionaire owner of Alibaba, disappeared for three months and had his firms restructured.
His latest venture, Ant Group, had been trying to revolutionise Chinese banking and Ma had criticised the country’s traditional financial system.
In addition to Alibaba, DiDi (‘Chinese Uber’) was pulled from app stores for courting foreign investment, while video game developer Tencent was accused of poisoning children with ‘spiritual opium.’
The tech sector accounts for almost a third of China’s economy – but the government crackdown on big tech has wiped an estimated $1.2trillion off the market.
Children were this week banned from playing online games for more than three hours a week, in a further blow to the colossal video game companies which dominate China’s tech sector.
On Monday, the Communist Party’s top disciplinary committee heard evidence that capitalism was seeking ‘to manipulate’ young people, ‘to plunder economic benefits and even to influence the society’s thoughts and cultures.’
Jiang Yu, a researcher for the Development Research Center of the State Council, told the committee: ‘If capitalism should be allowed to expand unchecked in the cultural realm, art and culture will lose the function of serving the people and serving socialism and the Chinese nation will lose its spiritual home.’
Jack Ma disappeared for three months and was hit with investigations that have wiped more than $100billion off the value of his empire after he criticised China’s financial sector
The dramatic shift by Beijing – prepared even to wipe billions off its own economy – has raised fears of a new Cultural Revolution, a decade of political turmoil from 1966 to 1976 under Mao Zedong.
The tyrant launched a vicious campaign to cement his rule, purging any capitalist or ‘bourgeois’ elements from within the party, schools, factories and government institutions.
China claims to be tackling wealth inequality and abuse of workers and data by big tech, but observers believe Xi has other motives
It’s not clear exactly how many people were killed during the purge, with estimates ranging from 400,000 to as many as 20 million.
Cai Xia, a former professor at the Central Party School and now strident critic of President Xi, told Radio Free Asia that she was seeing a repeat of the 1960s.
‘The party is certain to launch a political movement when it is in a crisis,’ she said.
Wang Dan, a former student leader of the 1989 pro-democracy Tiananmen movement, said the Communist Party wanted to ‘transform people in a soul-touching way and wage a revolution in the cultural realm’.
But Wang questioned whether that was possible in the 21st century, writing: ‘In today’s China, how many people truly admire and follow Xi Jinping?’
In addition to its crackdown on the tech world and celebrities, Beijing has banned private tutoring and ordered public schools to improve.
On Wednesday, the government pledged to stabilise house prices and make homes affordable for young people.
These policies are part of Xi’s goal of ‘common prosperity’ through which a more socialist country can be achieved.
In his widely-published nationalist column this week, blogger Li wrote: ‘This transformation will sweep away all dust. The capital market won’t be the paradise where capitalists get rich overnight, the cultural market won’t be the paradise of sissy celebrities and the public opinion won’t be worshipping western cultures.’