China’s red wave gets stronger

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China’s red wave gets stronger

PARK SEONG-HOON
The author is a Beijing correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.

In a speech commemorating the centennial of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on July 1, Chinese President Xi Jinping said, “You would bleed if you bully China.” That was an open declaration to confront the West by advocating the legitimacy of the regime. What surprised me more as I watched it in Beijing was the reaction of the audience. Even before Xi’s comment was over, applause and cheers erupted.

Xi’s remarks spread fast on the Chinese social media platform Weibo, where the majority of users are young. It was the top trending topic, viewed more than 440 million times in three hours. “I cried after hearing the speech.” “I am proud to be Chinese.” “China should no longer be afraid of being bullied.” These are some of the most “liked” comments.

“Until a few years ago, if one was called a ‘red expert,’ it was a criticism. But now, people feel proud to be called that.” What a 25-year-old graduate student said in an interview with Singaporean press Lianhe Zaobao symbolically illustrates how young Chinese people think today.

The changed perception among the young people can be confirmed in statistics as well. The CPC announced that 80.7 percent of the new entries into the party are under age 35, higher than 80.3 percent in 2019 and 80 percent in 2018. The new members with bachelor’s degrees or higher increased from 44.9 percent in 2018 to 46.8 percent so far this year.

Last year, China, the epicenter of Covid-19, ended the epidemic early through strict movement restriction and case monitoring. There was external criticism on information control and the uselessness of vaccines. But inside China, the mainstream opinion is that the government guaranteed the safety of the people.

With speedy economic recovery, national consensus on the central government system is shaping. Liu, an office worker in his 30s in Beijing, told the JoongAng Ilbo that the outcomes China had seen after Covid-19 was enough to boost people’s morale. In the past, he thought China was lagging behind the U.S., but looking at the recent situation, he thinks China is actually better.

Anti-Chinese sentiment from the outside world is at its worst. But in contrast, young Chinese people are not concerned. Their self-esteem is actually on the rise. Whether it is because of media censorship or successful Communist Party propaganda, China’s red wave is getting stronger.

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