‘Zigzag’ policies meet China’s ‘wave-like’ economy

Confused? Beijing ramps up the propaganda to turn a crisis into a recovery as confidence drains away

It was more like a plea than a plan. As China’s imploding economy sends shockwaves across society, the ruling Communist Party has ramped up its domestic propaganda campaign.

Instead of tackling the crisis head-on, President Xi Jinping and his Xicophants have reverted to the usual nonsense in a commentary by three senior journalists at the People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Party.

Appearing in the state-run Global Times, it called on readers to put their faith in “the ‘wave-like’ and ‘zigzag’ Chinese economic recovery.” Whatever that means.

“To deeply understand the ‘wave-like’ and ‘zigzag’ progress of China’s economic recovery, it is necessary to analyze and identify the bright spots in [the] economic operation,” Party commentators Liu Zhiqiang, Wang Hao and Li Xinping said.  

Fact, fiction and friction:

Chinese leaders are cannibalizing institutional norms and practices.

Carl F. Minzner of Fordham University

Delve deeper: “China’s reform era is ending. [It was] characterized by political stability, ideological openness, and rapid economic growth,” Carl F. Minzner, an expert on Chinese law and governance at Fordham University in New York, said.

Between the lines: “Now, to address looming problems confronting the nation, Chinese leaders are cannibalizing institutional norms and practices that have formed the bedrock of the regime’s stability in the post-Mao era,” he wrote in the Journal of Democracy.

Big picture: On the same day that the commentary featuring the “zigzag” approach to economics was published, the People’s Daily trumpeted on its front page “a new textbook on studying “Xi Jinping’s Thought.”

What they said: “The first unified teaching material that elaborates on Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era represents a significant achievement,” Xinhua, the official news agency of the Party, gushed. 

China Factor comment: To paraphrase the Roman biographer Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, Emperor Xi appears to be fiddling while Beijing and China burn. Thought control, it appears, overrides economic reform.