The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has warned officials to combat “dangerous” Western values and other perceived ideological threats, in a directive that analysts said on Monday reflected the determination of China’s leader to preserve top-down political control even as he considers economic liberalization.
The warning emerged on Chinese news Web sites that carried accounts from local party committees describing a directive from the Central Committee General Office, the administrative engine of the party leadership under Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平).
The central document, “Concerning the Situation in the Ideological Sphere,” has not been openly published, and most references to it disappeared from Chinese news and government Web sites by Monday afternoon, apparently reflecting censors’ skittishness about publicizing such warnings. However, what did come to light in the local summaries exuded anxiety about the party’s grip on public opinion.
Xi has been credited with strengthening national cohesiveness since he became CPP general secretary in November last year, a summary of a party organization meeting last week of the Commission of Urban-Rural Development of Chongqing said.
“At the same time, the central leadership has made a thorough analysis of and shown a staunch stance toward seven serious problems in the ideological sphere that merit attention, giving a clearer understanding of the sharpness and complexity of struggle in the ideological sphere,” said the account, which later disappeared from the commission’s Web site.
The Chinese government has confronted demands for democratic changes from activists emboldened by Xi’s vows to respect the law. In recent days, some activists have cited rumors that the party issued a warning against seven ideas that are considered anathema, including media freedom and judicial independence, but the official summaries did not include such language.
Officials must “fully understand the dangers posed by views and theories advocated by the West,” said the account from Chongqing, which said officials must “cut off at the source channels for disseminating erroneous currents of thought.”
“Strengthen management of the Internet, enhance guidance of opinion, purify the environment on the Internet, give no opportunities that lawless elements can seize on,” it said.
Reports on other local CCP committee Web sites in northeast and southwest China also described the directive, although in less detail.
The demands for ideological conformity show that Xi and other leaders want to inoculate the public from expectations of major political liberalization, even as they explore loosening some state controls over the economy, several analysts said.
“If anything, there seems to be some regression in the ideological sphere,” said Chen Ziming (陳子明), a prominent political commentator in Beijing who supports democratic change. “I think that there will be some steps forward in economic reform, but there are no notions of political reform. Such warnings reflect that mentality.”
Xi has commissioned officials and researchers to study seven areas of potential economic change, including loosening state controls on bank interest rates and on resource prices, said a Chinese businessman with close links to senior leaders, confirming a report in the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday.
Some of the proposals are likely to be endorsed by a meeting of the party’s Central Committee late this year, said the businessman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing concern about harming his ties to leaders.