Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mass line of what?

It's not only words that make observers skeptical about the new "mass line" coming out of the Party HQ in Beijing.

The reporter should note, in reference to his comment about the government leaders' fears of a recurance of the 1989 demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, that those protests began as expressions of unhappiness with corruption and nepotism within the Communist Party.

We could also add that ruling party corruption was one of the primary reasons for the success of the Communist Party in China after World War II and for the beginning of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

China arrests anti-corruption activists even as it pledges to oust dishonest officials
Even as China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, promises to root out corrupt officials, he has launched a serious crackdown on ordinary citizens who have dared to raise the same subject in public.

At least 16 activists have been arrested or detained since banners were unfurled in Beijing in March and April demanding that officials “publicly disclose assets.” The arrest last week of prominent activist Xu Zhiyong heightened the sense of despair among leading liberals about China’s new leadership and prompted open letters of protest.

The crackdown dramatically illustrates the Chinese leadership’s paranoia about street protests that could snowball. The government seems haunted by memories of the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations, the Arab Spring and China’s own short-lived 2011 “Jasmine Revolution.”

The arrests also signal that any moves by Xi to punish corruption will be on his and the Communist Party’s terms…

A popular saying in China goes: Failing to fight corruption will kill the country, but battling it would kill the Communist Party…

That viewpoint leads some people to argue that China’s president may be sincere in his battle against corruption but that he is proceeding at his own pace or on his own terms. “I see no reason to write it off as a show designed just to keep the masses distracted while the looting continues,” said Donald Clarke, a professor at the George Washington University Law School, on the ChinaFile Web site. “But it does mean that reform will not involve outside accountability. We’ll handle it ourselves, thank you very much. Sorry, citizens: it’s really none of your business.”…

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