Ideological fragility undermines China’s sharp power


If the China Model is so robust and the regime so confident, why does the ruling Communist Party fear the challenge of competing ideas?

An independent think tank that was one of China’s few remaining bastions for liberal-democratic ideas was shut out of its Beijing offices on Wednesday, throwing its survival into doubt, the New York Times reports:

Some workers at the think tank, the Unirule Institute of Economics, found themselves briefly trapped inside when the company that manages the lease on the institute’s offices locked and welded its door shut.

Unirule was founded 25 years ago to promote liberalizing China’s economy and democratizing its government. Those ideas have become officially unwelcome under Xi Jinping, the Communist Party leader who has driven China to re-embrace staunchly socialist values, and the group has come under increased government pressure, said the institute’s executive director, Sheng Hong….Closing Unirule would represent a major blow to independent intellectual life under Mr. Xi. For years the institute was tolerated, sometimes even consulted, by government officials, and it gained a prominence beyond its small size.

“It’s been very significant,” said Zhu Xueqin, a historian in Beijing who gave a talk late last month at the institute. “It’s been an important platform for Chinese intellectuals to publish their independent views.”

The regime’s evident ideological fragility does not augur well for its projection of sharp power.

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