onsdag 15. desember 2021

Michael Schuman: Why Xi Jinping won’t stop talking about “common prosperity”

A common refrain among Americans when faced with China’s export machine—which pumps out 5G telecoms gear, plastic Christmas trees, and just about everything in between—is the complaint that the United States “doesn’t make anything anymore.” Yet the U.S. retains a commanding advantage in one, especially critical export: ideas. From inalienable rights to Iron Man, Americans churn out the concepts and culture that make the modern world tick, more and better than anyone else. China has long strived to close the deficit, tossing out notions like “community of shared destiny” or “win-win cooperation,” but so far, nothing has caught on.

Now China’s leader, Xi Jinping, might be onto something. His latest catchphrase, “common prosperity,” has been adopted by journalists, scholars, and corporate executives in China with a fervor only a dictator can ignite. State newspapers are routinely plastered with commentary on the topic. On November 11, a shopping holiday known as “Singles Day,” the usual conspicuous excess took a back seat to the common-prosperity spirit. The e-commerce company Alibaba, the holiday’s primary purveyor, focused its marketing on eco-friendly initiatives and charitable programs instead of sales figures. Its management, eager to get into Xi’s good graces, had already pledged billions of dollars in charitable donations to support the leader’s cause, rather than its own shareholders.