Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

All smoke and no fire

I'm not the only one who wonders if there's any substance to the current mass line campaign in China.

Masses of meetings: A campaign to boost the party’s image fails to inspire
ON JULY 9th the Communist Party issued a new directive on President Xi Jinping’s campaign to clean up its act. Among the orders: “Avoid going through the motions”. Despite a blizzard of instructions in recent weeks calling on officials to get “closer to the masses”, the response has been perfunctory…

The campaign “to study the mass line” revives a Maoist notion that the party should learn from the people (while ignoring any demands for a different party to lead them)…

Mass line study session
Party committees around the country, well-rehearsed in such campaigns, have been going through the drill, organising “study sessions” for party members…

But the stricture to “avoid going through the motions” is an acknowledgment that such campaigns have become ritualised. When Mr Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao, launched a campaign a few years ago to promote “the advanced nature” of the party, some officials avoided having to write essays on the topic by downloading boilerplate ones from the internet. Similar materials are beginning to circulate again…

On July 9th, however, Study Times, an official newspaper under the Central Party School, questioned whether the “mass line” campaign would prove effective. In a remarkable deviation from Mr Xi’s conservative rhetoric, the article implied that the campaign was an outdated concept. Better, it argued, to have a bit more democracy.

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At 7:25 AM, Blogger Ken Wedding said...

Another reason to be skeptical about the current mass line.

China Detains a Leading Human Rights Advocate

"The police in Beijing have detained one of China’s most prominent rights advocates, the latest in a succession of arrests that critics said showed the Communist Party’s determination to silence campaigners who have challenged the party to act on its vows to expose official corruption and respect rule of law…

"Mr. Xu’s supporters said his detention was reprisal for his role in the campaign demanding that officials disclose their wealth, an idea that some officials have also endorsed, albeit in more cautious terms. Chinese authorities have now detained 16 people involved in the campaign… Three of them could soon stand trial in Jiangxi Province in southern China, she said, citing earlier court notices… "


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