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Society

Two Maoist revolutions – and one’s in America

A primary school in Handan, northern China. STR/AFP/Getty Images

Raising my Chinese son in the US has left me “mystified”, says Habi Zhang in The Wall Street Journal. Schools in China are run like “boot camps”: it is a core belief in Chinese society that talent can be trained, so schools should be tough on children. Result: Chinese students come top in international maths and science tests. “This is not a philosophy shared by American schools.” On Friday night my son came home “in bewilderment” that he didn’t have any homework. So what do the “therapeutic comforts America showers on its youth” portend for a growing competition with China? How will the US compete with a rival power determined to train the best mathematicians, scientists and engineers?

Unfolding now are two Maoist cultural revolutions, one in the East, one in the West. In China this means “jingoistic nationalism” enforced by party discipline and secret police. The US version is an “anti-Americanism enforced by progressive mobs” trying to defund the police. Both are about “limiting expression, controlling thought and regulating behaviour”. Xi Jinping has been cracking down on everything from finance to gaming to whip his country into “national rejuvenation”, explicitly anchored in Maoism. Woke America – which, consciously or not, also deploys Maoist tactics – is destroying the core traditions of western civilisation with identity politics. Chinese citizens enjoy mocking the western “snowflakes”. Less amusing is what this trend means for the US, as China no longer hides its enmity for America.