China has pretty much always been an insular country. And also the current top down government is not too dissimilar to it's historical predecessors. Actually, the philosophy of head of state and government being 'a benevolent parent of the masses' is pretty standard in east Asia. Further, the idea of citizens' PII being restricted/regulated to some degree is the current world trend from the EU to South Korea to China.
China is also in in the midst of shifting from an agrarian rural thru industrial urban to high tech economy and society. While building an internal consumer base to provide a default internal market as well as a fall back should external markets slow. For ~1.4 billion people. Not a simple nor easy undertaking anywhere anytime.
While a central authority has significant advantages, i.e. from first HS rail planning began in early 90's to over 20,000km (12,500miles) of HS track today (now think about the current kerfuffle in California), it tends also to be quite heavy handed. It's a nature of top down hierarchies.
Note: I've always been amused by the parallels between fictional corporate republics and actual communist regimes. Or many existing corporations, for that matter.
The western world pretty much only sees China through imports, students, and disjointed media stories. And that misses that while China is building internal bulwarks, especially around communication, they are also laying the groundwork for a robust internal high tech society (think Singapore, South Korea writ gi-normous) while building a significant economic/diplomatic presence outside, particularly in Africa (now that continent's largest trade partner) where they are building infrastructure, improving agriculture, manufacturing, telecommunications, and granting loans. In return getting oil/gas, trade agreements, investment, and leverage. The dragon is out, it's just that excluding products, it's mostly elsewhere in the world. So far.
I certainly don't like any number of Chinese government regulations, prior and current; I find many of their social and business behaviours difficult aka different; however, much the same can be said, if not to the same degree, of every country including much of my own. I look on doing business with China pretty much as I do doing business with Google: if I want to do business with either I have to follow their ToS/laws and if I don't I may get penalised, I might even be found a problematic false positive in which case I need to know what, if anything, my remedies might be. Which do you think is the darkest black box?
It is also quite intriguing watching the cat and mouse game that is being played between tech savvy individuals and tech savvy government enforcers on internet behaviours. So far neither has been able to get a decisive win. That the 'battle' continues despite the increasingly rigorous penalties says quite a bit as does how the various court cases play out. The brave, the foolish, the principled.
The various national soap operas, not just China, are increasingly fascinatingly ugly. With the internet, sadly, well entangled in most. Despite all our own problems and unfairnesses I am quite quite happy to be Canadian.
Double double, eh?