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China to send artists to countryside: report
The move is the latest by the ruling Communist Party to echo the Mao Zedong era, during which intellectuals and others were "Sent down" to labour among peasants in the countryside. It comes weeks after President Xi Jinping told a group of artists not to chase popularity with "Vulgar" works but promote socialism instead, with state media comparing his remarks to a speech by Mao. The move "Will be a boost in helping artists form a correct view of art and create more masterpieces," Xinhua said, citing the media administration. Beijing imposes tight controls over art and culture, and ideological restrictions have tightened under Xi, with authorities censoring Ai Weiwei and other artists it perceives as challenging its right to rule. Joseph Cheng, professor of political science at the City University of Hong Kong, described the move as a Mao-style "Rectification campaign" aimed at silencing potential critics as Xi leads a far-reaching anti-graft sweep. The new edict harkens back to the era of Communist China's founder, when popular art was little more than propaganda, but Cheng said that whereas Mao's Cultural Revolution was aimed at the entire intelligentsia, the current move was more targeted. The state-run China Daily likened his remarks to a well-known speech by Mao in the 1940s which outlined his view that the arts should serve politics. "Art and culture cannot develop without political guidance," the paper said, congratulating Xi for "Emphasising the integration of ideology and artistic values."

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