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China Hopes to Strengthen With Control of Business, Society


FILE - A man holds a girl in front of a large mural depicting Chinese President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders at a public square at the base of the Potala Palace in Lhasa in western China's Tibet Autonomous Region, June 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
China Hopes to Strengthen With Control of Business, Society
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The Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to tighten control over culture, business and society have affected everyone from tech industry professionals to schoolchildren. It is all part of President Xi Jinping’s plan for a more powerful and successful country.

Since Xi took power in 2012, he has often called for the party to be an economic, social and cultural leader. The party has spent the last 10 years of Xi’s time in power tightening control and silencing political critics.

In the last 40 years, China has seen large economic growth. But it has also seen a large gap between the rich and the poor. The party is promising to spread wealth more evenly and is pressing private companies to pay for social programs.

To support its plans, Xi's government is trying to create what it considers a more moral society. It has lessened children’s access to video games and has banned men who do not seem “masculine” enough from appearing on television.

Chinese leaders want to push society in one direction selected by the party, said Andrew Nathan. He is a Chinese politics expert at Columbia University in New York.

China has started enforcing anti-monopoly and data security laws against online shopping company Alibaba Group and social media company Tencent Holdings. The party thinks the companies have become too big and politically independent.

In answer, the companies’ billionaire executives are trying to show loyalty to Xi by promising to share their wealth. Xi’s unclear plan for “common prosperity” aims to narrow the wealth gap in China, which has more billionaires than the United States.

Willy Lam is with the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He said Xi’s plan to control business will hurt “the most creative and lucrative parts of the economy.”

The party’s rules about monopolies and how information is shared about customers are similar to those of western nations. But the one-sided and sudden nature of the rules is leading critics to warn that they may threaten China’s economic growth. Already, Tencent’s stock market value has fallen more than $300 billion.

Chinese officials say the public and business community will benefit from higher pay and more control of large corporations. Some parents supported the rule that limits children under 18 to three hours of online gaming a week.

The rules represent the party’s efforts to control a quickly changing society of 1.4 billion people.

The Communist Party now permits freer movement and supports internet use for business and education. But leaders reject changes to its one-party dictatorship. The party controls all media and tries to limit what China’s public sees online.

June Teufel Dreyer is a Chinese political expert at the University of Miami in Florida. She said that as the last 10 years of economic success slows, “Xi sees himself as the only person” able to strengthen the country.

I’m Dan Novak.

The Associated Press reported this story. Dan Novak adapted it for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

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Words in This Story

tighten v. to become more strict or effective or to make (something) more strict or effective

society n. people in general thought of as living together in organized communities with shared laws, traditions, and values

gapn. a space between two people or things

access n. a way of getting near, at, or to something or someone

masculine adj. of, relating to, or suited to men or boys

monopoly n. complete control of the entire supply of goods or of a service in a certain area or market

prosperity n. complete control of the entire supply of goods or of a service in a certain area or market

lucrative adj. producing money or wealth

customern. someone who buys goods or services from a business

benefit n. a good or helpful result or effect

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