Something is happening in China that the West doesn’t understand. In recent months Beijing killed the country’s $120 billion private tutoring sector and slapped hefty fines on tech firms Tencent and Alibaba. Chinese executives have been summoned to the capitol to “self-rectify their misconduct” and billionaires have begun donating to charitable causes in what President Xi Jinping calls “tertiary income redistribution.” China’s top six technology stocks have lost more than $1.1 trillion in value in the past six months as investors scramble to figure out what is going on.
Why would China, which has engaged in fierce economic competition with the West in recent years, suddenly turn on its own like this? While many in the U.S. and Europe may see this as a bewildering series of events, there is a common “red thread” linking all of it. Mr. Xi is executing an economic pivot to the party and the state based on three driving forces: ideology, demographics and decoupling.