China’s system ‘not as stable as it seems’?


Over the weekend, thousands of residents of Boluo County, Guangdong took to the streets to protest a planned garbage incinerator, Chris Buckley at the New York Times reports:

A street march broke out on Saturday and three residents contacted by telephone said the protest had resumed on Sunday, when people again walked toward government offices in the main town, despite a police announcement issued through the domestic news media that 24 people had already been detained. The residents spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing fears of arrest.

“We strongly urge the government authorities to reconsider the siting of the waste incineration plant,” said an appeal against the project that spread on the Internet in China, notes China Digital Times [a grantee of the National Endowment for Democracy]. One of the Boluo residents who helped with the appeal confirmed it had come from there.

In the two years since he was named general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping has moved swiftly to consolidate his personal grip on political power, established “leading small groups,” which he chairs, to handle pressing domestic and foreign policy problems. and launched a series of well-publicized corruption investigations targeting high-ranking civilian and military officials, notes a leading analyst.

But despite this appearance of solidity, there are some indications that the system may not be as stable as it seems, Princeton University’s Aaron L. Friedberg writes for The Diplomat:

Since shortly before Xi’s elevation to the top leadership post there have been periodic rumors of coup attempts and assassination plots against him. As recently as August of this year, Radio Free Asia carried a story under the headline “Some Kind of Coup May Have Taken Place in China.” …. Meanwhile, at around the same time, a Hong Kong magazine published an account claiming that Xi had already survived six assassination attempts. Xi himself reportedly said that he was prepared to but aside considerations of “life, death, and reputation” in order to pursue his campaign against corruption…..

Xi may succeed in neutralizing his opponents or, as he suggested in his June speech, “the armies of corruption and anti-corruption” may become locked in “stalemate.”  But sudden, unexpected and potentially violent developments cannot be ruled out.  The rules that have governed high-level political combat in China for over thirty years no longer seem to apply. 

At 81 years old and after decades imprisoned in labor camps as a foe of the Communist Party, the Beijing writer and underground publisher Tie Liu had said that he was too old to seriously worry the security police anymore. But they raided his home over the weekend and detained him on a charge of “creating a disturbance,” his wife and friends said on Monday. – New York Times (HT: FPI)   Pro-democracy politicians in Hong Kong should veto China’s proposal for universal suffrage in the territory, according to roughly half the respondents in a new poll. – Financial Times

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