(Beijing) From music to online games, to reality TV and private lessons, China is trying to regain control of its youth and enforce male values as opposed to a moral decadence that would come from abroad.
Posted on Sep 29, 2021 at 7:02 am
Jing Xuan TENG Agence France-Presse
In rapid succession, the communist regime has drastically curtailed the time minors can spend on video games and radically curtailed tutoring courses in recent months.
Actions in the name of public health (combating screen fatigue and myopia), but also equality (preventing the richest parents from making their children competitive).
But they also aim to educate youth more in line with the traditional socialist and nationalist values that President Xi Jinping has defended since he came to power nine years ago.
“This is a deliberate policy aimed at strengthening ideological control over the population,” observes Cara Willis, media specialist at Texas A&M University.
For example, it is now illegal to pay an English teacher to teach Joe Biden’s language online from the United States. A window to the outside world is now closed.
In the viewfinder, too, the “vulgar” content that is broadcast on the small screen and in social networks is called upon to concentrate on “patriotic” values instead.
No more reality TV shows inspired by Japanese or South Korean pop culture, certain tele-hooks … and above all the stars of the song with the overly feminine appeal.
Xi at school
As tensions with the West mount, Beijing seems to prefer a more testosterone-filled performance of the Chinese man, embodied in the “fighting wolf,” the muscular film hero who caused a sensation in the cinemas.
Some media outlets have found a culprit: foreign influence.
The nationalist daily Global Times sees the alleged lack of masculinity among East Asian stars as a post-war CIA conspiracy that was supposed to infiltrate the Japanese entertainment sector in order to promote “female” artists and thus weaken the image of Japanese men.
A model that would then have spread in South Korea and China, according to the newspaper.
Altman Peng, a specialist in sexual representation in the media at the University of Newcastle (England), sees Chinese power as “a fear for the future prosperity of the country, combined with the quality of the younger generations”.
The ruling Communist Party feels threatened by an entertainment world “that offers an alternative to its ideological orientation,” observes the sinologist Steve Tsang of SOAS University in London.
We are not against the regime’s orders: Hundreds of video game developers have pledged to ban content that is “politically harmful” or “money cult”.
Control of information and entertainment is certainly nothing new in communist China, as in the past people with earrings, tattoos and the lyrics of rap songs were censored.
This time the government has found a different model for young people: President Xi personally, whose “thinking” is now on the curriculum from elementary school onwards.
” The whiteboard ”
But power is struggling to convince the youth to secure the future of the country: If couples are now allowed to have three children, the liberalization announced in May was greeted with sarcasm by the parents, crushed by the cost of rent and education.
Others downright refuse to compete at any price that the world of work offers, opting for a lifestyle without restrictions that is denounced by the official press.
For video game enthusiasts, some have already found the solution to limit game hours by borrowing IDs from adults.
“The internet generation always finds a way to escape parental and power control,” observes Altman Peng.
Su, a 21-year-old reality TV fanatic, admits that the new rules “might be good for some immature teenagers”.
“I am an adult and can decide for myself,” assures AFP the young woman, who would rather not give her full name. “Such rules, which are imposed on everyone, do not promote diversity.”