China’s rules are building a divide with the rest of the world, similar to the Berlin wall Russia started to build last century, says China veteran Ian Johnson in news.com.au. “Speech is more restricted than ever. Community activities and social groups are strictly regulated and monitored by the authorities,” he explained.
“China’s rulers seem to be building and perfecting their own 21st-century version of the Berlin Wall,” said Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Ian Johnson.
“Using the tools of the digital age, Xi transformed China’s wall from an ad hoc assembly of rules and regulations into a sleek, powerful apparatus.
“In doing so, however, it may instead be repeating the mistakes of its Eastern bloc predecessors in the middle decades of the Cold War.”…
The CFR’s Johnson argues China’s “economic problems are part of a broader process of political ossification and ideological hardening”.
“Speech is more restricted than ever. Community activities and social groups are strictly regulated and monitored by the authorities,” he explained.
“And for foreigners, the arbitrary detention of businesspeople and raids on foreign consulting firms have – for the first time in decades – added a sense of risk to doing business in the country.”…
The end result, added Johnson, is Xi’s own version of Nikita Khruschev’s Berlin Wall, which was put up in 1961 to isolate the Soviet Union from the West.
“Even though he had recently won an unprecedented third term as party general secretary and president and seemed set to rule for life, public mistrust was higher than at any previous point in his decade in power,” said Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Ian Johnson.
“But none of that happened … Beijing has clung to a strategy of accelerating government intervention in Chinese life.”
“The deeper effects of this walling-off are unlikely to be felt overnight,” said Johnson.
Creative, well-educated and dynamic people still fill China’s universities, corporations and bureaucracy. But they’ve lost the incentive to be such.
“To visit China today is to enter a parallel universe of apps and websites that control access to daily life,” Johnson added.
“For outsiders, ordering a cab, buying a train ticket, and purchasing almost any goods requires a Chinese mobile phone, Chinese apps, and often a Chinese credit card.
“On one level, these hindrances are trivial, but they are also symptomatic of a government that seems almost unaware of the extent to which its ever more expansive centralisation is closing the country off from the outside world.”
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