mandag 18. april 2022

A Vast Network of ‘New Era Civilization Practice Centers’ Is Beijing’s Latest Bid to Reclaim Hearts and Minds

In a rural county in southern China, more than ten thousand volunteers, scattered across mountain villages and rice paddies, are out gathering local folk songs. Their charge: to bring back paeans to “the new era and new thought” at the heart of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s vision for China’s political future.

The folk song compilers are just one of “seven detachments in the mountains,” teams of volunteers throughout Longli County in China’s Guizhou province working to “forge mass solidarity, guide the masses, inculcate a correct cultural disposition in individuals, improve social mores, and adjust people’s behavior.” Members of the “Pure Folkways” detachment go door to door to urge thrift and discourage lavish spending on events like weddings and New Year’s banquets. The “Grateful to the Party” detachment’s formerly poverty-stricken households work to assist their less fortunate neighbors. Other detachments mediate disputes, organize neighborhood clean-up, and tend to children and elderly relatives left behind when working-age adults in their households seek employment elsewhere.