There are some things you forget about China while living there. But going to Hong Kong really makes it clear.
The philosophy is: Control. Control everything.
Mainland gov't is against independent radio stations, independent TV shows, independent universities, independent schools, independent publishing houses, independent research.
So almost every famous university in China is in Beijing. Everyone must speak in the same way on TV - standard. On TV or in books there is no honest depiction of corruption, no suspicion of the motives of people in power, nothing about sex, or faithlessness. There are no independent areas, even physically.
They believe it's acceptable for one organization to control every aspect of education, public health, media, science. And that it's best to have a complete hierarchy. This means that the littlest kindergarten teacher cannot try something new, because she is part of the same apparatus as the military. Every university head reports to the same guys, and receives orders from the same committee.
The overriding thread to their policy isn't even nominally freedom; it's harmony/trust in authority.
Just look how well centralized authority has worked in the nearby countries. Japan unified, and then isolated itself from the world for hundreds of years. It came out of it for a brief period, until power got centralized again, and raised a generation of nationalists who killed millions of people and themselves.
In China during the cultural revolution, naive beliefs about human nature got elevated to a position of absolute respect, and society went crazy for 10 years. They persecuted the best people, took their assets and destroyed their families, and elevated know-nothing anti-intellectuals to power. They also physically destroyed most of the interesting physical remnants of China's history. Those remnants are now being rebuilt shoddily to make money out of tourism.
This faith in centralization is so dangerous. As technology changes, centralization works better and better - at least, the center is able to exert more control, faster, on distant possessions. But if it goes wrong it's much worse, too. I like the idea of an escape hatch - don't let any one group control everything. It might not be as efficient, but at least we won't end up with a hell on earth.