How China and Xi Jinping Created the Outer World

The miracle of Modern China is built on global connections, a belief that sending young people, companies and future leaders into the outside world is the path from poverty to power. Now, emboldened by the transformation, the country is moving away from the influences and ideas that have fueled its rise.

The country’s most dominant leader in decades, Xi Jinpingseems intended to redefine China’s relationship with the world, recreating the meeting of minds and cultures as a zero sum clash.

Education officials are imposing restrictions on English education and requiring academics to obtain permission to attend even virtual international conferences. Regulators have punished Chinese companies for raising money abroad. Mr. Xi encouraged artists to embrace “cultural confidence” by promoting traditional Chinese literature and art, and warned against copying Hollywood.

And the government, citing the coronavirus pandemic, is no longer free to issue most passports, the physical symbol of a linked world. The contours are almost completely closed.

“There is no longer any integration and exchange between different cultures,” said Zhang Jincan, owner of Dusk Dawn Club, a live music venue in Beijing.

Before the pandemic, the club was part of the city’s curious, prominent music scene. Locals crowded to hear the visit Polish jazz quintet or Argentinian percussionist. Foreigners can explore China’s burgeoning punk bands. Performances are often held with foreign cultural institutions.

Now, Mr. Zhang worries that the essence of his club is disappearing. “You have a kind of aesthetic fatigue,” he says.

There is little chance of a return to Mao-era isolationism, when the country was cut off financially and culturally from the world. How much has the pandemic made clear? The global economy depends on for China, and how much China has benefited. Mr. Xi said he had no intention of separating from other economies.

Grandfather told World Economic Forum last month. “We should take down the barriers, not put up the walls.”

But if governments value the economic benefits of globalization, the same is unlikely to be the case with less tangible benefits: artistic, intellectual, interpersonal. Those relationships – making China not only a fixture of the world economy, but also a member of the global community – are scrutinized, restricted or rejected.

Anything that is perceived as – or increasingly seen as foreign – is vulnerable to attacks by online nationalists. Celebrities who promote vegetarianism have accused Western lifestyle peddler.

Even this month’s Winter Olympics in Beijing, by definition one of the most global events in the world, are conducted on China’s terms: no foreign spectators and despite the boycott diplomatic relations of countries including the United States.

It is a sport that once paved the way for diplomacy.

After the Communists took power in 1949, the first Americans to officially enter China, decades later, were nine table tennis players. The countries’ teams met in 1971 at the World Table Tennis Championships in Japan, and the Chinese government invited the Americans for a week-long visit, during which they toured the Great Wall, watching a troupe that dances and competes in matches. One year after”Ping-Pong Diplomacy“President Richard Nixon did visit Chinaopening the way for the two countries to re-establish diplomatic relations.

In the decades that followed, China’s deepening global connections signaled its expanding ambitions.

More than 6.5 million Chinese studied abroad between 1978 and 2019, with the number growing every year. Chinese tech companies listed on Wall Street, their innovations copied by Silicon Valley. Teachers use songs by Western music groups to teach English, which is considered to be important for economic opportunity.

The outside world also yearns to know more about China. Between 2002 and in 2018, the number of international students in China has increased almost six times. The 2008 Beijing Olympics helped make the country a global tourist destination.

Prolonged vigilance. Deng Xiaoping, the leader who spearheaded the process of economic opening, memorably warned that an open window would bring in fresh air and flies. But in those tumultuous early days, many believed that China had irreversibly damaged openness.

Mr. Xi proved them wrong. Since he came to power in 2012, the Chinese Communist Party has restricted foreign countries Non-governmental organizations, alleging a number of conspiracies against the country. It was banned abroad textbook, emphasizing that only it can guide China to greatness. Growing hostility from the United States has also pushed China’s leaders to take a more defensive stance.

Coronavirus has crystallized those trends. Trend quell infectionChina has canceled almost all international flights. State media reported on Western death tolls.

To limit import cases, the authorities speak they will not issue or renew passports, except in case of emergency, to work or study abroad. The number of passports issued in the first half of 2021 was 2% compared with the same period in 2019.

Sarah Duan, 16, applied for her passport in December, after being accepted into a private high school in Seattle. Immigration officials in her hometown in Shanxi province told her minors were not allowed to leave the country, she said.

Ms. Duan phoned the national immigration authority, which said no such policy exists.

However, local officers dismissed her, saying the pandemic abroad was too dangerous, or pointing to China’s strained relationship with the United States.

“I mean, what does the US-China tensions have to do with me?” Ms. Duan said the last person received the passport last month. Shanxi immigration officials did not return a fax request for comment.

Despite his rhetorical pledges, Mr. Xi is narrowing the scope of economic engagement, calling for reduce dependence on exports and keep Chinese companies closer to home. After Didi Chuxing The Chinese government announced an investigation into the New York-based ride-hailing company last year without regulatory approval. Within a few months, Didi delisting.

And although China wants foreign money, they are driving away those who go with it. The number of foreigners living in Beijing and Shanghai has fallen by almost a third in the past decade, according to Europe business group.

Even after China opens its borders, some fear a worsening climate will keep foreigners from coming.

Before the pandemic, Sarah Keenlyside, who had lived in Beijing for 16 years, organized tours for Western executives to visit for work. Those visiting for the first time are sometimes nervous, with concerns and misconceptions about government surveillance. But they left an impression by high-speed trains and safe cities. Some return for family vacations.

“It’s a vicious cycle,” Ms Keenlyside said. “If people don’t come, they won’t be able to see it with their own eyes.”

Prejudices are likely to get tougher the other way, as China imposes new restrictions on outside influences.

Last summer, education officials banned online tutoring companies hire teachers abroad, cut the popular source of English lessons and cultural exchanges. In December, regulators command television credits to determine if any of the cast or crew were of foreign nationality.

Those decisions were made as part of broader moves to reduce the student’s workloador domination of China bohemian popular culture. But officials have sometimes been more explicit about the implicit impact of foreign ideas. Mr. Xi has accused blind worship of Western cultural products, and request belief in traditional culture, which he called “the main issue concerning the rise and fall of the nation’s destiny”.

The art world has raced to conform to the ways that Jiang Bing, a contemporary art curator, cares.

Ms. Jiang helped organize this year’s Chengdu Biennale, which showcases hundreds of works from China and abroad. She said many artists still want to engage with their international partners. But she has seen others reach for clear symbols of Chinese heritage, such as Ming Dynasty clothesinstead of looking for novel or nuanced ways to express cultural pride.

“Without the corresponding thought process, questioning, and critique, there can be no real cultural confidence,” she says.

Some say that the emphasis on homegrown is a natural result of China’s rising position. While American films once topped the Chinese box office, domestic films now dominate. Local fashion designers, long dismissed as second-rate commanders, expensive.

Sun Lei, 24, moved to the UK last fall to get a master’s degree, with a longstanding desire to study and work abroad. But the country’s lax virus management has helped him appreciate China more the ability to implement policies without the friction commonly found in Western democracies.

“The reality is that China’s development and overall economic situation is on an upward trend,” said Mr. Sun. “That benefits my personal growth.”

However, he still plans to use a virtual private network to access blocked websites abroad after moving back home. China’s growing middle class, increasingly traveling and well-versed in global pop culture, can hardly accept retreat from the outside world.

Even some unexpected voices have defended cultural engagement.

“Technology has ensured that cultural distance is not possible,” said Wang Xiaodong, a self-proclaimed nationalist blogger with more than 6 million followers on social media. Mr. Wang enjoys watching American TV shows, including Game of Thrones and Westworld.

But the government is tightening control over VPN. Critics of China’s growing frenzy are often censored or drowned out by nationalist voices. Mr. Wang himself has also been attacked online for saying China needs global engagement.

Virtual vitriol has real-world consequences. Last fall, officials in the northeastern city of Dalian close the door a Japanese-themed shopping complex within two weeks of opening, after online commenters denounced it as a form of cultural aggression.

In the long run, hostility could fuel the rise that nationalists are eager to foster.

As the pandemic forces academic exchanges to move online, Chinese universities command Scholars attend virtual conferences held abroad to submit agendas for pre-approval. State-run Chinese Academy of Sciences require Foreign scholars give online lectures to guests to share their passport details.

Last year, a government adviser Official warning China’s legislature argues that the restrictions could harm foreign policy. “Excessive management will affect experts’ analysis of international affairs and the quality of their advice,” Written The advisor, Jia Qingguo, is also a professor at Peking University.

Reached by email, Professor Jia agreed to be interviewed. But he said the regulations require pre-approval from the university, which is never going to happen.

Joy Dong research contributions How China and Xi Jinping Created the Outer World

Fry Electronics Team

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