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Chinese Politics - Xi Jinping

Since rising to power nearly in 2013, Xi Jinping exerted increasing control over society, cracking down on dissidents and detaining anyone perceived to be a threat to stability in the view of the Communist Party. Xi wanted music and art to reflect Chinese socialist values, and late last year, the party even ordered its own members to not play golf, meet alone and criticize the party.

The leadership is trying to dominate the battle for public opinion. But it faced a situation where each side was voicing its own views. The public on the other hand, did not believe the government’s propaganda, and just searches out information on its own.

The new publishing law went into effect on 10 March 2016. The law required digital publishers of everything from scientific to cultural content and online games to seek approval before they can operate online. One hurdle includes permission from a total of 32 propaganda departments in all of China’s provinces, municipalities and special administrative regions. And that is just one of a lengthy list of requirements, in addition to information about the publishing companies financial records, professional experience of its managers and a place of business.

The appointment of ideologue Wang Huning to the Politburo standing committee at the 19th party congress in October 2017 made him one of the ruling Communist Party’s seven most powerful men. This was a sign that Xi Jinping was bringing ideology back to every area of Chinese life. Ideologue Wang Huning, 62, was the brains behind the political themes espoused by three Chinese presidents. He was credited with arming former President Jiang Zemin with ideas for his “Three Represents” code. He had also advised President Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao.

Wang is also a Xi protege and director of the General Office of the Central Committee. Wang Huning seemed an unlikely candidate for elevation to the highest echelons of power. He is a scholar, an ideologist who works with theories that never held water in the first place. On the standing committee, he was put in charge of ideology, which is dirty work, and creates a lot of ill-feeling. He is known as an advocate of “neo-authoritarianism,” the doctrine holds that political stability is fundamental for economic development, and that democracy and individual rights should come later.

President Xi Jinping's vow to maintain an open Chinese internet was dismissed by political commentators as posturing, as state media swung into action to defend the Great Firewall of government censorship. In a statement to the fourth World Internet Conference in the eastern province of Zhejiang on 04 December 2017, Xi continued to promote his concept of cyber-sovereignty, suggesting there would be no let-up in online controls. According to Xi's concept, cyber-sovereignty promotes separate jurisdictions for cyberspace according to state boundaries, with each "internet" regulated by the government in question, "without external interference."

In January 2018 online Chinese news platform Toutiao began recruiting some 2,000 editors to oversee content delivered to its smartphone app, after being sanctioned last week for alleged breaches of regulations and for spreading "pornographic and vulgar content." The app began recruiting content editors, whose job will be to filter out "illegal" stories from among the pool that the app sends to its users in a tailored news feed. Members of the ruling Chinese Communist Party were particularly encouraged to apply for the job, which offers full health coverage and pension benefits and paid leave.

The suspension of Toutiao's service was aimed to "better promote mainstream values and the spirit of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China," according to the Global Times newspaper, a tabloid run by the mouthpiece of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, reported.

The clampdown was symptomatic of a wider fear that nearly 700 million people who access the internet by mobile device will get politically sensitive news of the wider world channeled to their inboxes by "gossipy" apps. The thing the authorities feared most of all was that overseas popular movements will spread to mainland China.

In February 2017 China’s culture ministry launched a crackdown on the spoofing of its revolutionary culture and its heroes, ordering the deletion of thousands of online videos for parodying popular “red classics and heroes.” The ministry said it has taken immediate action to investigate and remove spoof videos from online sites following media attention given to the spoofing of the communist-era choral classic Yellow River Cantata. At the end of January, culture ministry officials hauled in 17 major service providers including Youku Tudou, Tencent, Iqiyi, Baidu, and Sina to "rectify their work". As of 30 January 2018, service providers had removed 3,898 offending videos of “pranksters” spoofing revolutionary songs.

The government's move was part of a much broader range of measures being rolled out under President Xi Jinping, harking back to the ideological controls of the Mao-era Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). Things were regressing now to the point where nobody is allowed to doubt any of the Communist Party’s previous ideology.

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