Xi launches new crackdown on intellectuals

By Yu Jie 余杰  / 

Tue, Dec 10, 2013 - Page 8

During the third plenary session of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 18th National Congress, it was announced that a state security committee would be established, mainly to deal with the various domestic challenges China is facing.

This is what came out of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) speech that he delivered at the Nationwide Propaganda and Ideology Work Conference on Aug. 19.

In the speech, Xi said that among intellectual circles, a small minority are showing tendencies to move away from the official party and government line, with some individuals even acting against it. He said that the Internet is the biggest variable that the CCP faces and that it could become the party’s biggest enemy. Xi’s comments that a small group of reactionary intellectuals must be seriously dealt with were not only aggressive, but also seemed very serious.

While Xi is trying to further centralize power within the party, he has also tried to keep tight control over China’s growing civil society. He ordered the CCP’s propaganda, cultural and educational departments to pay attention to certain “special intellectuals” and work hard at dealing with groups like online opinion leaders, Internet authors, contracted authors, freelance writers and independent artists, like actors and singers.

During the era of Mao Zedong (毛澤東), the CCP designated a group of “vulgar” people they referred to collectively as the “five black categories” — landlords, rich farmers, anti-revolutionaries, bad elements and right-wingers. The unfortunate members of these groups and their relatives were deprived of their basic civil rights and suffered extreme discrimination, with Xi himself being a victim.

During former Chinese president Hu Jintao’s (胡錦濤) rule, CCP authorities came up with what they called the “new five black categories” and labeled human rights lawyers, underground or unofficial religions, dissidents, Internet opinion leaders and disadvantaged groups as the five groups interfering with the rise of China.

With Xi now in power, CCP authorities have identified five types of “risky” intellectual. The party says it will go to every length possible to buy them out, make them allies, monitor, control, oppress or detain them.

Xi said in no uncertain terms that Chinese must not facilitate the newspapers and magazines, forums, meetings, movies, TV stations, radio stations and stage performances, digital publications, mobile TV stations, mobile media, text messaging, microblogs or blogs that attack party leaders and the social system, “distort” national and party history and spread rumors.

There is no way that a dictator that has declared war on intellectuals and views freedom of speech and independent thinking as enemies can be considered a reformer. It is safe to say that the overly high hopes those in China and overseas had for Xi implementing reform can be forgotten.

Xi is Mao’s spiritual son. Mao totally ignored every achievement made by the civilized world and said that “the lowly are the most intelligent, the elite are the most ignorant”and called them “the Stinking Old Ninth,” a derogatory term for Chinese intellectuals.

Despite Xi having earned a doctorate from Beijing’s Tsinghua University, he is instinctively cautious regarding knowledge and culture, viewing those possessing them as capable of subversion and wanting to get rid of them.

When a leader issues a specific order, it is inevitable that his underlings will follow suit. Seeing how Xi has encouraged his underlings to be braver when it comes to “brandishing their swords,” Chinese bureaucrats both small and large have started to take feverish action.

Chinese media outlets have busied themselves reporting the actions of “freelance writers” to their superiors, Web sites have carried out strict controls on online opinion leaders and online authors, and publishing houses and writers’ associations have tightened management of contracted authors, while cultural performance organizations and radio and television broadcast channels have put tighter controls on actors and singers.

Especially worthy of attention here are those known in China as “Big Vs,” or popular Internet personalities, who in recent weeks have been charged with baseless crimes, arrested and forced to issue “statements of repentance” on state-run China Central Television.

Dissidents have attracted more negative attention, and a professor in the economics department at Peking University, was recently dismissed from his job on groundless charges for merely for saying too much. Guangzhou’s New Express tabloid has been “cleansed” by the CCP, while party officials in Tibet have announced that they plan to rid it of every last influence of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

What we are seeing now is imperial fascism rearing its ugly head.

Yu Jie is an exiled Chinese author.

Translated by Drew Cameron