Following up their ban on puns and wordplay, the Communist Chinese government is reinstituting a lighter version of “rural re-education” (ie, sending people to “farms” to starve in the mud, or to get beaten up by “farmers” for not knowing all the intricate skills of agriculture). It’s basically like sending people to a prison, but without the humane features. It also cuts people off from friends and family, and of course from the Internet.
In a new twist on medieval Chinese imperial policy, some artists will be sent to “farms” in ethnic minority areas along China’s borders. This ensures that nobody there will be speaking Mandarin or Cantonese — except of course people who work for the Communist Party. Many of these ethnic minority areas are centers of unrest. There’s jihadi activity in the far west, and there’s North Korean activity in the far east. (So basically the government is hoping somebody will kill or disappear these people.)
Other artists will be sent to areas “important” to Mao’s war. Presumably this means they are being sent to really hardcore Communists who don’t have government posts in Beijing, and who will therefore be eager to prove themselves by mistreating the artists and trying to harangue them into compliance.
For the moment, this is only being aimed at artists disliked by the Communist government. (In the past, all intellectuals and activists ended up being sent to the “farms,” along with a good chunk of all middle-class Chinese who weren’t party members.) For the moment, exile is also for only 30 days. Artists will be expected to produce suckup Communist art when they get back. If they don’t comply, the threat of worse things to come is left hanging over them.
Affected artists specifically include an entire TV production team, who are to be forced to produce a Chinese anime all about the glories of Mao’s revolution.
Earlier this year, the Communist government was all happy and bright and determined to go to war with Japan and Taiwan. They seem to be focusing on internal enemies at the moment, however. This may mean that a lot of Chinese have been pointing out how stupid the war idea is. OTOH, a lot of Chinese really hate the Japanese because of their charming behavior in China during WWII, so this may encourage the Chinese government to move ahead with war plans in order to swamp dissent with wartime-patriotism. However, an interesting survey shows that, while most Chinese are happy to cheer on their government’s landgrab claims, they don’t want things to get all shooty. They are particularly unenthusiastic about sending in troops to fight Japan. At the moment, the Chinese people want China to look good and win diplomatic victories. They don’t want to shed their own blood for tiny rocks in the ocean.
The Guardian thinks the artist re-education is a result of pushback by “vested interests” against an anti-corruption campaign. This seems pretty vague, but what they mean is that encouraging a few prosecutions of corrupt officials while claiming to be trying to eliminate all corruption was meant to be a feel-good way for the new guy to get rid of the other crabs high in the Communist bucket. But it apparently has set off a lot of Chinese to actually point out the huge numbers of Party officials who are corrupt, and the corruption inherent in the Communist system. The Diplomat compares this to Gorbachev setting off a little more openness than what was expected, and Communist Party officials trying to crack down to get their control back. (Here’s more from the The Diplomat.)
But your guess is as good as mine, when it comes to what’s going on.