Wang Feng

The Marx and Confucius [television] show is just one small part of Xi’s campaign to fashion a new ideological conformity in China. Its apparent aim is to foster unity in preparation for struggles at home and abroad—but with the ultimate purpose of tightening Xi’s grip on China. Chinese leaders “want to have a very powerful, socialist, ideological framework that can congeal the population, and this is of course under the party’s control and guidance,” Wang Feng, a sociologist at UC Irvine, told me. “What’s a more powerful way to centralize power than to control people’s thought?”

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