China’s Night Economy
Yuen Yuen Ang, professor of political economy at Johns Hopkins University wrote a Jan. 19, 2023, opinion piece for Africa’s The Mail & Guardian.
“Over the past two months,” Dr. Ang writes. “China’s leadership has announced or signaled a series of major policy reversals, abruptly ending nearly three years of severe zero-Covid restrictions; easing the crackdown on tech companies and the real-estate sector.”
“Exasperated with endless lockdowns, Chinese citizens from various walks of life poured into the streets in protest, forcing Xi to change his position. But the sudden reversal of the zero-Covid policy has led to a massive surge of cases and hospitalizations with which China will continue to struggle for some time.”
We presume the headline for the op-ed had its tongue firmly in cheek: “Is China back — for the long haul?”
Ang does not China’s nighttime economy in her column. She mostly lectures President Xi Jinping’s top-down government. However, in the last year, much has been made of China’s nighttime vibrancy.
Granted, it’s difficult to get a complete and accurate understanding of developments in mainland China. Its curated messages and photos are like TikTok videos from an ex-boyfriend who wants you to know that HE’S DOING JUST FINE WITHOUT YOU!
Oops, did we just reference TikTok?
Still, the Chinese nighttime economy surfaces in headline after headline … from dubious information sources:
- Beijing lights up under night-time economy campaign (Jul. 25, 2022)
- Night-time economy can help boost consumption (Jul. 30, 2022)
- Night economy helps boost economic recovery (Dec. 27, 2022)
- SW China’s Kunming sees robust recovery of nighttime economy (Jan. 13, 2023)
- Growing number of tourists boost nighttime economy (Jan. 17, 2023)
So. perhaps China has spotted an opportunity to, at least, demonstrate nighttime economic vibrancy in its city centers. Maybe not. The photos are certainly pretty.
Professor Ang believes the Communist Party of China can remain firmly in power while also delegating authority to local authorities. This, she states, would liberate private entrepreneurs from state controls.
And perhaps some of those entrepreneurs would launch an authentic nighttime industry.
For example, something like an EDC Shanghai would be amazing. It could also provide an assist to China’s population drop.