This year’s National People’s Congress put on a brave face, but once the reckoning has begun it will be impossible for China’s Communist authorities to retain a facade of normality, The Wall Street Journal reports. General Secretary Xi Jinping’s recent crackdowns on the media and Party dissenters look to be preparation for a difficult period ahead.
Xi’s efforts to maintain ideological conformity in the Party and the nation is prompting a surprising degree of opposition, China Digital Times reports:
After the president emphasized government control of the media with a visit to top state media outlets where he stressed that news must “speak for the Party,” famously outspoken commentator Ren Zhiqiang responded by posting to his Weibo account that state media should first speak for those who fund it: the people (Ren’s comment was answered with a banishment from Chinese social media platforms). After Caixin Media found an article in state censor’s crosshairs for quoting CPPCC delegate Jiang Hong on a lack of freedom to offer unrestrained suggestions at top political meetings, they pushed back with an English article on the original article’s deletion (which too was quickly removed from the Internet). Last week, a Xinhua employee posted an open letter denouncing the increasingly tight media constraints for “triggering tremendous fear and outrage among the public” (the letter, unsurprisingly, didn’t remain online for long).
An even more brazen act of resistance to the control of public and Party opinion was an open letter calling for Xi Jinping’s resignation from all state and Party leadership positions, posted to state-linked Wujie News website on March 4, the day that the annual “Two Sessions” political meetings began in Beijing. Signed by a group of “loyal Party members,” the letter blames Xi for an atmosphere of political, economic, ideological, and cultural anxiety currently sweeping China, and mentions that the “personal safety” of the president and his family could be in jeopardy if does not comply. CDT has translated the letter below. For more context on the letter, see coverage from The Washington Post’s Emily Rauhala and Xu Yangjingjing….
Hello Comrade Xi Jinping,
We are loyal Communist Party members. On the occasion of the national “Two Sessions,” we write this letter asking you to resign from all Party and state leadership positions. …
In the political sphere, your abandonment of important Party tradition, including most significantly the abandonment of the democratic system of the collective leadership of the Standing Committee, instead having all leaders at all levels support your position at the “core,” has resulted in an excessive concentration of power. While strengthening the power of the Party Committees within the NPC, CPPCC, and the State Council, you’ve weakened the independent power of all state organs, including that of Premier Li Keqiang and others. Meanwhile, the stationing of Central Disciplinary Inspection Commission patrols in work units and state-owned enterprises has created a new system of power, leading to a lack of clarity at all levels of government, and confusing the decision-making process.
In the diplomatic sphere, your abandonment of Comrade Deng Xiaoping’s consistent “hide your strength and bide your time” policy, has not only failed created a favorable international environment, but has allowed North Korea to complete successful nuclear tests, creating an enormous threat to China’s national security; has allowed the United States’ successful return to Asia, forming a united front with South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and Southeast Asian countries to jointly contain China. In handling the Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan problems, lack of compliance with Comrade Deng Xiaoping’s wise concept of “one country, two systems” has created a further dilemma, allowing the Democratic Progressive Party to win power in Taiwan and letting sentiment of Hong Kong independence to rise. Of particular concern regarding Hong Kong, the irregular manner of bringing booksellers to the mainland has directly injured the “one country, two systems” policy. …
On the ideological sphere, your emphasis of the “Media’s Party surname,” has disregarded the media’s character of representing the people, and the entire country is stunned; your support of Zhou Xiaoping and Hua Qianfang as representatives on the literary front has left countless literary and art workers in bitter disappointment; your direct condoning of cultural units to sing your praises, and the appointment of your wife Peng Liyuan’s sister as director and producer of the CCTV Spring Festival Gala, has turned the once popular Gala into your personal propaganda tool. …
Loyal Communist Party Members
March, 2016 [Chinese]