‘The Chinese government is showing capitalists who the boss is’ – IRR’s John Endres

The Institute of Race Relations John Endres sits down with BizNews founder Alec Hogg to discuss the craziness happening in Beijing as communist China looks to take control of a booming economy. The regulatory crackdown in China is predominately on Big Tech and educational companies that operate within the informational space. The Chinese communist party are afraid that these companies will create a narrative of questioning its regime, which are the reasons for the asserting of its dominance. What will happen next is anyone’s guess, but Endres insists that these are not good signs for capitalist China going forward. – Justin Rowe-Roberts

John Endres on hostile approach of late by Beijing towards capitalism: 

I think China still very much sees the benefits of capitalism, but maybe is getting a bit worried about where it might lead in terms of social freedoms and the spreading of ideas. And this is the common thread of the crackdowns and the regulatory initiatives we’ve seen from the Chinese government in recent weeks. They are very much looking at companies that are in the information space. So it is educational companies, streaming service companies, messaging companies that all promote the flow of ideas. And that, of course, is the greatest risk that exists for a closed and restrictive regime, is that people start getting the wrong kinds of ideas. And so if you have that kind of government, you have to make very sure that you keep a tight lid, a tight rein on those ideas and ensure that the companies that enable them to spread know who the boss is. And I think this is really what this is about, is the Chinese government showing the companies that it is the boss, that it is in charge and it will not tolerate any risks or threats from the private sector.

On whether this started with the Hong Kong protests years ago: 

Yes, I think it is linked to that, and in the case of Hong Kong, that was a little bastion, a little outpost of freedom I think within China – partly independent, autonomous, but I think very much a thorn in the Chinese government side. And ultimately, the Chinese government decided that enough was enough and it was cracking down, which it did with the expected efficiency, I think, and ruthlessness and the plucky Hong Kong Islanders who put up a brave resistance. I think ultimately were no match for the might of the Chinese state, which is disappointing and sad. But I think you’re correct in assessing that as a kind of turning point where China decided to stop playing games, stop playing around and become quite serious about asserting its dominance.

On the disappearance of Alibaba and Ant founder, Jack Ma: 

Well, it’s a little bit unclear, but I think that the reason why the government took aim at Alibaba was that Jack Ma was building up something like a rival centre of power. He was becoming so powerful as China’s wealthiest man with a hugely successful company to his name. And he also started becoming quite outspoken in his criticism of the government. He started expressing himself quite freely on the international stage. And I think that led to a point where the government thought that it was becoming a bit much and decided to rein him in and did so quite dramatically and effectively. And I think that was the starting point of the process that we still see unfolding now where the government demonstrated that your wealth, your influence, your power, your success, your business acumen offer no protection against the state and in the risk research which we published earlier this week, we also mentioned the case of a pig farmer in China, which on the face of it sounds like an amusing anecdote, that there’s a fight between a pig farmer and the Chinese government. But of course, the point is that this is not just any pig farmer. This was a multibillionaire, a very, very wealthy businessman with a large business empire who had been expressing support for dissidents and supporting human rights lawyers and also fell afoul of the government for that reason and was sentenced to a draconian 18 years in prison for having spoken up and for causing trouble effectively. So as a slight as that risk might seem to us as Westerners to the Chinese government, this was clearly perceived as a very significant risk and one that justified being responded to in a very dramatic fashion.

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