Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Keep your civil society groups within The Party

The Communist Party of China goes to great lengths to keep civil society activity within the Party. Here's an example.

China indicts law activist who founded civic group
A prominent Chinese legal activist who founded a group that organized small, peaceful protests and dinners to discuss politics was indicted Friday by Beijing prosecutors and will likely stand trial soon…

Xu Zhiyong
[C]ity prosecutors… formally charged Xu Zhiyong on Friday…

Xu founded the New Citizens Movement, a loose network of activists who have gathered in various cities around the country for political discussions over dinner and have held small street rallies to urge officials to disclose their assets.

His arrest in late August highlighted a wide-ranging crackdown by the authoritarian government on peaceful expression and underscored how unnerved the country’s leaders are by independent collective action.

[P]rosecutors were likely to pursue charges of ‘‘organizing a crowd to disrupt order in a public place.’’…

The vaguely worded charge has been used in many recent cases by authorities to prosecute activists who have staged small demonstrations to air critical views. Xu’s supporters say it’s a trumped-up charge aimed at putting away a moderate voice perceived by the Communist Party as a threat because of his public appeal and ability to mobilize…

Chen Min, a close friend of Xu's, said Xu’s prosecution reflects the contradictions the party faces in wanting to protect one-party rule while appearing to be responding to public demands for greater government accountability and a fairer legal system.

‘‘No matter how they struggle, they are in a dilemma,’’ Chen, a journalist… said in a recent opinion piece. ‘‘They want the dictatorship, but they want to be seen as having the rule of law. They care about their image while they desire to persecute. They want everything, but that’s a mission impossible.’’…

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