Since February, Xi Jinping’s Chinese government has been executing a high profile crackdown on drug use, focusing especially on those at the top of Chinese society. Its efforts made international headlines yesterday with the arrest of Jackie Chan’s son, Jaycee Chan. Reuters reports on the broader social implications of the crackdown:
Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed to go after corruption and excess among the elite, a prime source of public discontent as the gap between the poor and the wealthy continues to grow. […]The use of drugs in China, particularly synthetic drugs like methamphetamine, ketamine and ecstasy, has grown along with the rise of a new urban class with greater disposable income.Xi has called for a clean-up of the so-called “four practices” of formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance. He said in June that China would “harshly crack down” on narcotics, state media reported.
Xi’s recent anti-corruption purge and this drug crackdown both target the elite, for a couple of reasons. First, it makes for good PR for the leader of communist China to go after the conspicuously wealthy elite both for political corruption and for their decadent lifestyles. Second, and more importantly, Xi is consolidating power in his own hands by thinning out the top ranks and intimidating those who remain. If Xi is successful both in this power grab and in keeping the public’s affection, he could become one of the most powerful figures in China in the past 40 years.