Beijing establishes a police force to 'control' culture
After the chengguan of the cities and the nongguan of the countryside, the Chinese leadership is proposing wenguan, the so-called "cultural enforcers." Equipped with blue uniforms, they are called upon to crack down on "non-aligned" behavior. Xi Jinping's leadership cult is strengthened: his quotes used in gaokao, the university entrance tests.
Beijing (AsiaNews) - The first were the chengguan, law enforcement agencies that specialize in controlling activities in urban centers, followed recently by the nongguan, their counterparts in the countryside and agricultural areas.
The latest piece wanted by Beijing is the wenguan, the force that presides over cultural management law enforcement. Teams of so-called "cultural enforcers" who, dressed in a "blue uniform" are called upon to crack down on "behavior" that does not align with "morals" or programs and performances in film, television, and art that are contrary to morals.
Their purpose is to "align" Chinese agencies and media with government policy and the "thinking of Xi Jinping," increasingly the country's supreme leader.
In the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, the new teams have their dark blue uniforms decorated with Chinese characters that stand for "enforcement of culture norms." On May 30, more than 500 people attended the "uniform handover ceremony" in the city of Jiamusi. The new formation is responsible for cracking down on behavior deemed "uncivilized" in a wide variety of fields: tourism, publishing, culture, television programs and films.
Their many responsibilities would include tracking and punishing writers on online platforms who spread pornography, violence, "feudal superstition," or other behavior deemed harmful, although the role and powers remain broad and ambiguous.
Many citizens have turned to social media to challenge or mock the emergence of these "cultural enforcers," even fearing the danger of a cultural desert. "First the control of cities, then the countryside, now the management of culture. But what is," one user asks, "cultural management?
Cai Shengkun, a U.S.-based expert on Chinese affairs, explains to Radio Free Asia (Rfa) that the establishment of a team dedicated to the cultural element actually shows Beijing's absolute desire for control and supervision.
"This is largely a political issue" for managing "the cultural sphere, including cultural products ... the arts, performing arts and entertainment." A plan that dates back to 2018, when the Communist Party of China Central Committee intended to form a team dedicated to cultural issues, including the tourism sector.
The obsession with controlling the cultural element is becoming increasingly pronounced for Beijing, as evidenced by the use of Xi Jinping quotes in university entrance exams (the gaokao).
Indeed, for the first time, a test in recent days asked candidates to write a text of more than 800 characters on the "understanding and thinking" of two quotes from the president, outlining "principles" that should animate and guide the life of universities.
The text, developed by the Chinese Ministry of Education, applies to students in 12 provinces and regions including Xinjiang, Henan and Jiangxi. Among all Chinese leaders, only Mao Zedong's poems had previously been used in gaokao, confirming a growing "mythicization" of the chairman.