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How "Chinese Style" Became A Symbol Of Everything That's Wrong With China



BEIJING - The Chinese government likes to boast of its superiority to the West, thanks to its socialist economy “with Chinese characteristics.” For years, it was virtually impossible to publicly say something out of step with this idealized view of the nation.

But now, in what is perhaps a sign of both a new openness and deep-seated dissatisfaction in China, people have started referring to anything that is bad, uncivilized or immoral as being "Chinese style," according to a Xinhua news report quoted by UDN news.

Is it a welcome bit of self-mockery or an alarm bell? The report asked.

Here is a list of practices “with Chinese characteristics,” as one blogger quipped:

- Chinese-style road crossing: Whether the light is red or green, as long as a handful of people are gathered together, they’ll cross the road.

- Chinese-style school pick-up: Go to any primary or even secondary school when school breaks and witness the chaos created by the quantity of parents waiting at the gate. Listen to the noise generated by the crowd as well as the variety of bicycles, motorbikes and tricycles used by the parents. Even the busiest bazaar can’t beat it.

- Chinese-style tricks for curbing traffic jams: Limiting the time period and the areas in which one is allowed to travel by car. Limiting the amount of cars sold. Limiting car use depending on whether one’s number plate is odd or even. Auctioning license plate numbers.

- Chinese-style blind dates: The girls show up with their mothers. The mother’s job is to make detailed inquiries into whether or not the candidate for marriage has some real savings in his bank account, a car, a house..

- Chinese-style gift-giving: A peculiar “collective movement” one week before the Chinese New Year or during major events such as the Moon Festival or the Boat festival. People are so busy delivering presents to their relatives, and of course also to government officials, that the roads are chock-a-block.

- Chinese-style food safety: Melamine-enriched infant milk. Poisonous rice. Clenbuterol-fed pork. Dyed buns. Recycled cooking oil that comes the gutter… This is all to blame on the economy, of course.

- Chinese-style politico: The “three-must-haves” for any public official: a mistress, secret bank account, and getaway mansion. The more of each of these items, the better.

The term “Chinese style”became popular about eight years ago thanks to a television series called “Chinese Style Divorce” which depicted how couples were entangled in three kinds of betrayals: mental betrayal, physical betrayal or mental/physical betrayal, the United Daily reported.

“All these bad habits reflect the special sociological transformation China is undergoing,” pointed out Xinhua News.

However, Xia Xueluan, professor of sociology at Peking University believes that “The fact that Chinese-style phenomena are amplified in the Internet sphere is a good thing. This has the effect of alerting the authorities as well as the public. This self-examination by ridiculing ourselves embodies our awakening cultural consciousness.”

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Look At This Crap! The "Enshittification" Theory Of Why The Internet Is Broken

The term was coined by journalist Cory Doctorow to explain the fatal drift of major Internet platforms: if they were ever useful and user-friendly, they will inevitably end up being odious.

A photo of hands holding onto a smartphone

A person holding their smartphone

Gilles Lambert/ZUMA
Manuel Ligero


The universe tends toward chaos. Ultimately, everything degenerates. These immutable laws are even more true of the Internet.

In the case of media platforms, everything you once thought was a good service will, sooner or later, disgust you. This trend has been given a name: enshittification. The term was coined by Canadian blogger and journalist Cory Doctorow to explain the inevitable drift of technological giants toward... well.

The explanation is in line with the most basic tenets of Marxism. All digital companies have investors (essentially the bourgeoisie, people who don't perform any work and take the lion's share of the profits), and these investors want to see the percentage of their gains grow year after year. This pushes companies to make decisions that affect the service they provide to their customers. Although they don't do it unwillingly, quite the opposite.

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Annoying customers is just another part of the business plan. Look at Netflix, for example. The streaming giant has long been riddling how to monetize shared Netflix accounts. Option 1: adding a premium option to its regular price. Next, it asked for verification through text messages. After that, it considered raising the total subscription price. It also mulled adding advertising to the mix, and so on. These endless maneuvers irritated its audience, even as the company has been unable to decide which way it wants to go. So, slowly but surely, we see it drifting toward enshittification.

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