Camps for Internet-addicted teenagers: what can be learnt from China

MOSCOW, 20 Dec 2021, RUSSTRAT Institute.

Due to the West’s imposition of its mass culture and the use of the Internet as a tool of composite warfare directed against the younger generation of competing countries, China has long moved to radical measures to ensure the security of its country’s future.

The fact that the World Wide Web can “completely change the whole country” was stated in 2000 by US President Bill Clinton, speaking on the topic of the need to include China in the World Trade Organisation. The speech was delivered by him at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (USA). Clinton compared attempts to resist the “genie of freedom” generously distributed by the State Department to the process of “nailing jello to a wall”, but China was able to escape from the insidious information trap.

As is known, to block unwanted content, Chinese specialists developed and put into operation the “Golden Shield”, also known as the “Great Chinese Firewall”, in 2003. First of all, sites of pornographic and extremist content, as well as those aimed at political disinformation, were censored in the Middle Kingdom. The Chinese authorities have banned access to all Google, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Blogger, WordPress services in the country. After the attempt by the US and UK intelligence services in Hong Kong to carry out the “yellow umbrella revolution”, the Chinese Foreign Ministry warned the US against attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of China, and the Instagram network, through which the actions of the rioters were coordinated, was banned by Beijing.

Instead, Chinese users are now provided with domestic social networks and services: Baidu (an analogue of Google), Sina Weibo and Tencent QQ replaced Twitter, WeChat occupied the WhatsApp niche. When trying to enter the queries “porn”, “buy drugs” and the introduction of other terms that can be attributed to destructiveness, the Chinese network issues a warning. Harsh measures are applied to those who do not let up. Moreover, not only the owners of sites with similar content, but also their visitors find themselves in the dock.

Even in ancient times, Chinese sages gave definitions on the topic, “what is good and what is bad”. The logic of Chinese government is simple and reasonable. A strong state needs a strong army. The basis of a strong army is strong people. Any dependence implies weakness. For example, in China, with its thousand-year-old national medicine, one will not find drugs for the treatment of drunkards in pharmacies. The Chinese consider alcoholism not a disease, but a conscious choice, a vice. Alcoholics are treated there with occupational therapy, and those who have violated the law are treated with compulsory occupational therapy in isolation. Maybe that’s why one won’t meet drunks on the streets of China, and if one does, they will be tourists.

The fathers of the Chinese state understand that the main and at the same time the most vulnerable part of the population that is a consumer of mass culture and social networks is the youth. In this regard, Beijing’s logical steps towards information and psychological protection of the younger generation were the creation of camps for Internet-addicted teenagers and a ban on the popularisation of “feminine men”. After Chinese President Xi Jinping’s call for “national renewal” and the development of a healthy society this autumn, the National Administration of Television and Radio Broadcasting turned to television channels, saying that “it’s time to put an end to the popularisation of effeminate men and other non-normative aesthetics”.

The responsible persons in their speeches used a more crude analogue of the word meaning representatives of the LGBT community. The fact that the slang term “niang pao” was used in the statement, which has an offensive meaning, emphasised the determination of the intentions of the Chinese authorities.

In order to neutralise the “gadget culture”, as well as to reduce the corrupting influence of the culture of the European Union and the United States, which, despite the barriers built, penetrates into the territory of the country, strict censorship of broadcasting has been introduced in the People’s Republic of China.

Camps for Internet-addicted teenagers have become another invention of the Celestial Empire. China is the first country in the world to recognise Internet addiction as a mental disorder. Now there are hundreds of similar establishments on the territory of a huge country, arranged according to a military model. Rehabilitation is payable, the cost of re-education is expensive for parents – about $1500. This is a lot of money for China, but, according to society, parents themselves are to blame for not showing proper attention and necessary rigidity in the upbringing of their lost children, and they must pay for it.

As a treatment, the following are used: military drills, physical activity, games, communication, psychological support, classes on national ethics. There is a complete absence of gadgets on the territory of “medical institutions”. And welcome to the real world!

Of course, the measures taken by the Chinese government to preserve the moral health of young people are constantly “worrying” the Western world. To talk about how justified and productive these ways of improving the nation are, one can only look at the economic and, consequently, political power of China that has grown before our eyes. For 20 years of the existence of a virtual, although essentially an “iron curtain”, this country has not only protected itself from the shocks of colour revolutions and coups with the subsequent plundering of national resources, but has also taken the role of a world leader.

Maybe it’s time for us to adopt the successful experience of a neighbour?

Institute for International Political and Economic Strategies – RUSSTRAT

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