They say that sometimes, dear readers, you’ve got to accentuate the positive to get through tough times. But sometimes that’s just not enough. Sometimes the best strategy is to accentuate the negative in just the right way so that nobody picks up on how bad things are getting.
Remember early this week when the former top prosecutor of Macau was detained boarding a ferry to Hong Kong in relation to an investigation of rampant graft and favoritism at the territory’s anti-graft agency? No? Maybe that’s because you were too busy following the news of property tycoon Ren Zhiqiang having his Weibo account shuttered for criticizing the party leadership.
Or do you recall at all that business about China’s human resources and social security ministry forecasting imminent unemployment for 1.8 million workers from the country’s coal and steel industries as part of the government’s attempt to address chronic overcapacity in heavy industry? If not we suspect you might have been preoccupied by the upsetting news of 24 people being sentenced to after defrauding 230,000 investors of almost $1.5 billion in China’s abysmally-regulated wealth management product industry.
How about those new plans to securitize major banks’ bad loans for sale to international investors to try and waft away some of the increasingly sour stench emanating from their balance sheets? Or the freeze on raising the minimum wage in Guangdong for two years because factories probably couldn’t afford it? Maybe you heard about those steel mills in Xinjiang that were shuttered because plans for the province’s growth implemented by Beijing were misguidedly focused on heavy industry in a futile attempt to mimic a long-since unfeasible pathway toward developed-economy status?
No? Perhaps, dear readers, it was because those developments got lost amid the (entirely justified) outrage over new rules for televised content that ban everything from gay romance to sorcery to extramarital affairs and even police procedurals from being broadcast.
Yes, sometimes all it takes to distract the masses from economic turmoil in one sector is an expertly-timed calamity or misstep in another—but we daresay that last one could backfire. After all, if one takes all the sex and violence out of television, people might eventually start paying attention to the state of the economy. And heaven knows how angry that might make them.