China's Next Cultural Revolution Meets Frank Zappa

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 1/26/2009 06:03:00 PM
Like other countries in the region, China has good reason to be wary of student unrest. After all, the 1989 Beijing massacre was in no small part triggered by student protests. Then, as now, economic turmoil may be emboldening students to push for democracy and other Western capitalist nonsense. It is thus with little surprise that the PRC leadership is looking to avoid a 1989 rehash. In effect, the Communist Party is looking to replace flowery idealism a la the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention-style realism a la We're Only In It For the Money (fake idealism). What are those legendary million unemployed college graduates to do instead of blasting each other online in massive multiplayer online role-playing games? From what's still our favorite official publication, the China Daily:
China's State Council announced over the weekend a plan to provide incentives to job-seeking college graduates, including professional training and preferential loans for start-ups. The government said it would help train one million unemployed college graduates in the coming three years to make them better qualified for jobs [instead of blasting each other all day in MMORPGS, presumably].

The Cabinet also said that civil service posts and state-owned companies should not charge job application fees from college graduates whose families are in financial hardship [!] For graduates who are willing to work in rural areas or join the armed forces, the loans for completing their college education might be partially or fully waived, the notice said [my emphasis].

Labor-intensive companies are also encouraged to recruit college graduates, with preferential government loans up to two million yuan ($293,000) for each company. Any graduates who are willing to kick off their own business would qualify for small loans of 50,000 yuan each.

The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said that as of December 31, there were 8.86 million urban residents registered as unemployed, 560,000 more than at the end of the third quarter. [This is likely understated given the PRC's legendarily--how do I put this--"massaged" figures.]
I am frickin' amused. Just as Chairman Mao created the "sent down generation" of tertiary-educated Chinese carted off to the provinces to do...nobody knows precisely what even now, today's newly-minted graduates are being encouraged to go to the provinces instead of expending youthful energy championing freedom in the major cities. Yes, it's the Cultural Revolution Reloaded.

The Communist gene in the PRC leadership may be dormant, but its past resurfaces every now and again. It's a pretty smart move for an authoritarian state bent on staying that way. After all, we're only in it for the money.