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BEIJING — President Hu Jintao of China has said that the West is trying to dominate China by spreading its culture and ideology and that China must strengthen its cultural production to defend against the assault, according to an essay in a Communist Party policy magazine published this week.
.Mr. Hu’s words signaled that a major policy initiative announced last October would continue well into 2012.
The essay, which was signed by Mr. Hu and based on a speech he gave in October, drew a sharp line between the cultures of the West and China and effectively said the two sides were engaged in an escalating culture war. It was published in Seeking Truth, a magazine founded by Mao Zedong as a platform for establishing Communist Party principles.
“We must clearly see that international hostile forces are intensifying the strategic plot of westernizing and dividing China, and ideological and cultural fields are the focal areas of their long-term infiltration,” Mr. Hu said, according to a translation by Reuters.
“The overall strength of Chinese culture and its international influence is not commensurate with China’s international status,” Mr. Hu said in his essay, according to another translation.
“The international culture of the West is strong while we are weak,” he said.
There are 4.5 million cars in Beijing, compared with fewer than 500 in 1990, and that number will jump to 7 million by 2015. A class of super-rich Chinese is being created, and they revel in conspicuous consumption. One restaurant in the financial district has on its menu a bottle of Lafite Rothschild 2000 for 30,800 yuan—almost $5,000. When a restaurant has difficulty moving wine, it raises the price; people want to spend more.
There are consequences to this lifestyle, and the Chinese have to look no further than America to see what will happen if they don’t curb their energy appetite and address the growing gap between rich and poor. Just as Americans are fascinated by China, a similar fascination exists in China about our lifestyle, our cars, homes, popular culture, and air conditioning—but not our political system. One woman out for an evening stroll around Houhai Lake in Beijing with her 16-year-old daughter laughingly described the Chinese system as “communism Westernized,” and that seems to suit the Chinese people. Their standard of living is rising, their cities are safe, and they are able to feed themselves, which is an achievement in itself when there are 1.4 billion people in the country.