Archive for ‘Communist Party’

07/03/2019

In sensitive year for China, warnings against ‘erroneous thoughts’

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s ruling Communist Party is ramping up calls for political loyalty in a year of sensitive anniversaries, warning against “erroneous thoughts” as officials fall over themselves to pledge allegiance to President Xi Jinping and his philosophy.

This year is marked by some delicate milestones: 30 years since the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in and around Tiananmen Square; 60 years since the Dalai Lama fled from Tibet into exile; and finally, on Oct. 1, 70 years since the founding of Communist China.

Born of turmoil and revolution, the Communist Party came to power in 1949 on the back of decades of civil war in which millions died, and has always been on high alert for “luan”, or “chaos”, and valued stability above all else.

“This year is the 70th anniversary of the founding of new China,” Xi told legislators from Inner Mongolia on Tuesday, the opening day of the annual meeting of parliament. “Maintaining sustained, healthy economic development and social stability is a mission that is extremely arduous.”

Xi has tightened the party’s grip on almost every facet of government and life since assuming power in late 2012.

ROOTING OUT DISLOYALTY

The party has increasingly been making rooting out disloyalty and wavering from the party line a disciplinary offence to be enforced by its anti-corruption watchdog, whose role had ostensibly been to go after criminal acts such as bribery and lesser bureaucratic transgressions.

The graft buster said last month it would “uncover political deviation” in its political inspections this year of provincial governments and ministries.

Top graft buster Zhao Leji, in a January speech to the corruption watchdog, a full transcript of which the party released late February, used the word “loyalty” eight times.

“Set an example with your loyalty to the party,” Zhao said.

China has persistently denied its war on corruption is about political manoeuvring or Xi taking down his enemies. Xi told an audience in Seattle in 2015 that the anti-graft fight was no “House of Cards”-style power play, in a reference to the Netflix U.S. political drama.

The deeper fear for the party is some sort of unrest or a domestic or even international event fomenting a crisis that could end its rule.

Xi told officials in January they need to be on high alert for “black swan” events..

That same month the top law-enforcement official said China’s police must focus on withstanding “colour revolutions”, or popular uprisings, and treat the defence of China’s political system as central to their work.

The party has meanwhile shown no interest in political reform, and has been doubling down on the merits of the Communist Party, including this month rolling out English-language propaganda videos on state media-run Twitter accounts to laud “Chinese democracy”. Twitter remains blocked in China.

The official state news agency Xinhua said in an English-language commentary on Sunday that China was determined to stick to its political model and rejected Western-style democracy.
“The country began to learn about democracy a century ago, but soon found Western politics did not work here. Decades of turmoil and civil war followed,” it said.
Source: Reuters
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18/01/2019

Zhao Ziyang: A reformer China’s Communist Party wants to forget

Picture dated 17 October 1980 in Beijing of Zhao Ziyang,Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES

In a small, central Beijing courtyard, family and friends are gathering to pay tribute to Zhao Ziyang – the most powerful man in China to oppose the decision to send tanks into Tiananmen Square nearly 30 years ago.

He was subsequently erased from Chinese history for what party officials deemed his “serious mistakes” that day.

To reach his traditional courtyard home, mourners and journalists alike must run a gauntlet through a twisted alleyway, with groups of police and plain-clothed guards on every corner, waiting to interrogate and prevent would-be visitors.

Today, on a cold, January day, on the anniversary of Zhao’s death from a stroke in 2005, numerous police vehicles flank every entrance. Parked outside the gate is an unmarked security car; the occupants monitoring arrivals and muttering into radios.

“What a miracle you all showed up here,” Zhao’s daughter, Wang Yannan, tells the small group of us who made it inside the courtyard.

Wang Yannan, the daughter of former leader Zhao Ziyang
Image captionWang Yannan hopes her father may one day be rehabilitated

China’s Communist Party has spent nearly 30 years trying to erase the events of 4 June 1989 from history and young people here have little knowledge or understanding of what happened that day. The story of Zhao Ziyang is proof those efforts still continue: the man who was the highest ranking Party official in the country at the time of those momentous events is now expunged from the record and, even in death, still regarded as a threat.

Every year, the family says, the number of people who come to pay their respects diminishes slightly. Some are stopped from entering when they arrive or – as Zhao Ziyang was for 16 years – prevented from travelling around the city.

“It’s been like this for many years. What else can we do about it?” Zhao’s son, Zhao Er’jun, is resigned to the hassle.

“Sometimes we go out and help people get in. This man used to be a secretary of my father’s – he was dragged into a dispute with the police outside. Even he was nearly prevented from coming in.”

Mourners pay their respects in front of Zhao Ziyang’s tablet on the 14th anniversary of his death on Jan 17, 2019
Image captionSupporters pay their respects to Zhao Ziyang on the anniversary of his death

“Let’s talk in the room,” Er’jun adds, pointing to a tall building next to the courtyard. “There are face-recognition cameras set up over there, visitors’ faces and identities will be recorded. You got in this time, the next time it may be harder.”

A trickle of people make their way into Zhao’s study, where his photograph, documents and possessions are displayed, alongside photographs of his late wife. It speaks of a loving family, proud of his achievements – Chinese premier, general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and, before his purge, credited with driving crucial economic reform in China.

It’s already stuffed with flowers and burning incense. More flowers are being placed outside the door.

Most visitors tell us that they are “from his home town”. It might not be true in all cases, but it seems that you’re more likely to get past the guards by saying it. And they are here to keep not just his memory, but his principles alive.

Zhang Baolin, a former journalist, covered the years when Zhao brought wealth to much of China – but also drew criticism for corruption – and then defied his party by defending the student protests in Tiananmen.

He says: “Zhao Ziyang played such a significant role in opening up and reform. Huge progress was made within his time. So I think, to an old man like Zhao who has passed away so many years ago, we should pay our respects. [If his name] is missing in the commemoration of opening-up and reform, we think it’s very unfair.”

Mourners bow to the photographs of former leader Zhao Ziyang and his late wife Liang Boqi
Image captionSupporters prayed among flowers filling Zhao’s study

Zhao’s name is not only missing in Chinese commemorations, but – like nearly everything connected with the events in Tiananmen – from Chinese history books and virtually all official publications since 1989, when he was ousted from the Party. But those in the courtyard hope that won’t always be the case.

One visitor says: “I believe one day Zhao’s reputation will be rehabilitated, because history won’t be distorted for long. One day people will find out the truth. Yes, it’s not included in history textbooks. But in my home we talk about it all the time – I don’t want the next generation to forget.”

Zhao’s daughter Wang Yannan sighs, only cautiously optimistic that one day she might see the political rehabilitation of her father’s legacy.

“Yes, confidence is here. So is the hope. But reality is another thing.”

Zhao went to Tiananmen Square in 1989, knowing that Party hardliners were gaining the upper hand, and implored the students to leave; to save themselves and their future lives; to negotiate with the Party.

“We are already old, we do not matter any more,” he told them.

But nearly 30 years later, remembering Zhao – and his principles – matters more than ever to some.

Visitors taking a group photo in front of the study of Zhao Ziyang
Image captionMost of the people who remember Zhao were alive in 1989 – few young people know of him
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