Crackdown on Chinese Celebrities by CCP

Image source: BBC

Top e-commerce live streamer Viya (Huang Wei), was fined on Monday by the tax bureau in Hangzhou for hiding personal income and other offences in 2019 and 2020. In the summer of 2021, Kris Wu former member of EXO, a k pop group was arrested for sexual assault. Like Viya, Zheng Shuang was fined $299 million for tax evasion. The worse thing that can happen to a celebrity is a disappearance, Zhao Wei disappeared physically and her works as an actress vanished out online as well.

These crackdowns cannot be viewed simply as the government’s action against crime and tax evasions, it falls under a border move of the party to ensure the longevity of its rule. Xi Jinping’s ‘common prosperity’ drive which focuses on narrowing the wealth gap is all about making the Chinese society more equitable. Tech giants like Alibaba, Tencent have pledged billions of dollars to the cause of ‘common prosperity. Thus, the celebrities arrested were accused of promoting lavish lifestyles and creating online chaos.

 CCP wants to be the only source of mobilization and does not want any civil societies to mobilize people, thus the movements are always nipped in the bud. Mobilization has played an important role in CCP’S history. Starting with campaigns like the anti-rightist campaigns, cultural revolution, and the recent declaration of people’s war against COVID-19, illustrating the critical role of mobilization in CCP’s history.

 The fans of the respective celebrities do come out and support their artists and CCP represses them too. The fans of Zheng Shuang and Kris Wu harshly criticized the government’s decision to cancel her online and even planned to protest the arrests and free them from prison. It does this to “kill the chicken to Sacre the monkeys” and by threatening the masses it makes them understand who the real boss is.

Image source: CNN

 CCP has also used celebrities for propagating its policies and promotions. There are Chinese pop bands like TFBOYS who regularly attend party meetings, get featured in state-run media, and release a pop remake of the anthem “We are the heirs of communism” that includes a cameo from basketball star Yao Ming. Some celebrities like Brooklyn nets owner Joe Tsai wrote a letter calling the Hong Kong protest “a separatist movement”.

 All the efforts of CCP point towards two things, one is to prevent any kind of coordinated and collective action and the other is to make western multiparty democracy unattractive. Masses are welcome to highlight the contributions of CCP and praise it. Anything against the government policies will only result in suppression or prohibition of the speech or writing that is deemed subversive of the common good.

Another element of which CCP is paranoid especially after the demand for democratic rights in Tiananmen square in 1989, is the idea of western democracy. CCP always uses propaganda tools to downplay the attractiveness of democracy either by portraying it in their media in a negative light or by cracking down right activists who advocate fundamental rights like freedom of speech, freedom of expression, etc.

 Finally, young Chinese are the future of the party. It becomes important for CCP to mould their minds into the ideal population and prevent them from getting attracted to western ideals. Therefore, the crackdown on celebrities is necessary to “establish the right value orientation” for young people. Party uses its social control methods to crackdown private mobilization and also suppress alternative ways to organize society. The crackdown illustrates that the party will not loosen its grip over the ideological commanding heights.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team

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J. Uthra

J. Uthra is a post graduate student of East Asian Studies interested in Chinese history and politics

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