Beijing: The Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) approach towards dealing with society—particularly the business and entertainment industries—is aimed at regulating aspects that it considers detrimental to its larger goals and is likely to have a lasting impact on Chinese society, just as the Cultural Revolution did in the 1960s.
Jianli Yang, writing in The Washington Times, said that the echoes of the Cultural Revolution are reverberating throughout China today, with the Chinese government harking back to the past and placing curbs on many aspects of ideology and culture.
President Xi Jinping's efforts to shape the minds of Chinese youth and control Chinese culture have begun to resemble the tactics employed by Mao Zedong reported The Washington Times.
The Chinese entertainment industry has been put on notice that it must either self-regulate—or risk facing disciplinary action if found to violate recent norms introduced by the CCP, said Jianli.
Recently, Chinese fans of K-pop sensation Park Ji-min (known as Jimin) to mark his upcoming birthday were harshly rebuked by the CCP.
These moves have come amid intensified calls by Xi and the state media for China to pursue a renewed form of "shared prosperity" (gong tong Fuyu), said Jianli.
In August 2021, multiple Chinese celebrities—including highly successful businessmen, were fined, fired, or otherwise punished for various offences, including tax evasion.
Chinese actress Zheng Shuang was fined 299 million yuan (approximately USD 46 million) for tax evasion last month, about the same time that actress and Fendi brand ambassador Zhao Wei had her name removed from all works on major entertainment platforms.
Chinese actor-singer Zhang Zhehan was similarly punished and de-platformed after old photos of the actor resurfaced, showing him visiting the Yasukuni War Shrine in Tokyo, Japan, sparking an online nationalist backlash, reported The Washington Times.
Just how seriously the CCP takes this process of indoctrination is evident from the conduct of a Chinese entertainment industry symposium, held on September 7, during which attendees were told to ensure they acted "with morality" in both public and private. The seminar was held in Beijing under "Love the Party, love the Country and Advocate Morality and Art."
The entertainment sector is just the latest to be targeted by the CCP. Before that, the Chinese tech industry has faced waves of regulatory changes and investigations in recent months and years.
Online gaming has been strictly curtailed in the name of protecting children, and social media companies have been ordered to tackle the "chaos" of celebrity fandom, including the use of popularity-ranked blacklists of persons and productions deemed "problematic" by authorities.
One instance of this tactic was seen when Alibaba Group Holding Limited was thrust into the spotlight on Weibo. A user posted a question asking if he could withdraw money from Alipay (a unit of Alibaba Group), given Jack Ma's ties to multiple celebrities caught up in the recent purge.
The CCP's current efforts to clamp down on the domestic entertainment and business industries are reminiscent of Mao's use of the Cultural Revolution to target his political enemies, said Jianli.
The CCP is also tightening its grip on education. In the new school year that began in September, Chinese students in elementary, middle, and high schools will be required to study "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era" (abbreviated "Xi Jinping Thought"), and will have to memorize aphorisms from President Xi found in their "Moral Education" textbooks.
Ideological education linked to a specific leader is widely regarded by critics as bordering on a personality cult.
The prospect of "a return of the Cultural Revolution—which was brought about because Mao concentrated too much power in his own hands—is terrifying," said one source within the CCP.