NYTimes.com — yes, the entire site — has been blocked since a few hours after this story went live. First time that’s happened since I moved here a year ago.
As recently as January of this year, the head of China’s National Family Planning Commission affirmed that the policy was in place for the long term. In response to the statement, NPC delegate He Youlin said, “That isn’t right. You can’t consider such matters from the perspective of your professional department. You should think about it from the perspective of a people’s development, of the future strategic development of our country.”
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Life for the almighty Chinese government official has come to this: car pools, domestically made wristwatches and self-serve lunch buffets.
In the four months since he was anointed China’s paramount leader and tastemaker-in-chief, President Xi Jinping has imposed a form of austerity on the nation’s famously free-spending civil servants, military brass and provincial party bosses.
The corruption, income inequality and environmental degradation that have accompanied China’s breakneck economic development over the last 30 years have provoked social unrest. In 2010, China had 180,000 “mass incidents,” the official euphemism for protests — a fourfold increase over the previous decade. Methods of social control that once worked like charms are now losing their efficacy. So the Central Party School and its provincial subsidiaries, which train China’s leaders, are revamping curriculums. Each year they send student-officials to Harvard to study Western management.
But they are often finding that it’s the old feudal customs, so repugnant to Mao, that help them keep a grip on society.