Yes, they’re kidnapping Canadians off the street, imprisoning over a million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz, using AI to spy on far too many of their own people, and rattling their sabres against America and Taiwan.
In the spirit of “at least the trains run on time,” here are some of the things the Chinese government is doing for its 1.4 billion people, or things that some in the sloppy democratic West wish we could do if only our governments were a little more authoritarian.
1. Reducing pressure on their kids.
Last week, China passed a law whereby local governments must reduce the pressure on schoolkids to do homework and take special tutoring. As of January 1, after-school tutoring for major subjects will be banned on weekends and holidays.
That pressure is enormous. China’s education system culminates in one university entrance exam at age 18 called the “gaokao” where a single score can determine the arc of their lives. So, many parents spend fortunes on the best schools or private lessons which deplete both their finances and the health of their kids.
The government has also cut back on assigning homework, worried that schoolkids will be overwhelmed and fall apart, or quit school, or act out. (See Item 4).
There’s another benefit the authorities see in this law: encouraging parents to have more children. China’s one-child policy, begun in 1980, means that its population is now actually declining.