China warns officials against 'erroneous thoughts' ahead of controversial anniversaries

'Keep your eyes open, see things early and move on them fast'

Samuel Osborne
Thursday 07 March 2019 13:30
President Xi Jinping gives speech on Chinese unity and attempts to divide the nation

China‘s ruling Communist Party has warned its officials against “erroneous thoughts” ahead of a year of sensitive anniversaries.

This year will see the 30th anniversary of the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square, as well as mark 60 years since the Dalai Lama fled into exile from Tibet and, on 1 October, 70 years since the founding of Communist China.

The Communist Party came to power in 1949 following decades of civil war in which millions died, and has always been cautious about threats to stability.

“This year is the 70th anniversary of the founding of new China,” President Xi Jinping told officials from Inner Mongolia on Tuesday, the opening day of the annual meeting of parliament. “Maintaining sustained, healthy economic development and social stability is a mission that is extremely arduous.”

President Xi has strengthened the party’s grip on almost every aspect of government and private life since he assumed power in late 2012.

Last year, parliament amended the country’s constitution to remove term limits and allow him to stay in power indefinitely.

In January, the party stressed the importance of loyalty in new rules on “strengthening party political building”, advising members they should not fake loyalty or be “low-level red”.

“Be on high alert to all kinds of erroneous thoughts, vague understandings, and bad phenomena in ideological areas,” the document warned. “Keep your eyes open, see things early and move on them fast.”

The Communist Party has increasingly increasingly been making rooting out disloyalty and waving from the party line a disciplinary offence to be enforced by its anti-corruption watchdog, whose role had initially been to crack down on criminal acts such as bribery.

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China has persistently denied its war on corruption is about political manoeuvring or Mr Xi taking down his opponents.

President Xi told an audience in Seattle in 2015 the anti-graft fight was no “House of Cards”-style power play, a reference to the Netflix political drama.

In the same month, the top law-enforcement official said China’s police must focus on withstanding “colour revolutions”, or popular uprisings, and treat the defence of China’s political system as central to their work.

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The party has meanwhile shown no interest in political reform, and has been doubling down on the merits of the Communist Party, including this month rolling out English-language propaganda videos on state media-run Twitter accounts to laud “Chinese democracy”. Twitter remains blocked in China.

The official state news agency Xinhua said in an English-language commentary on Sunday that China was determined to stick to its political model and rejected Western-style democracy.

“The country began to learn about democracy a century ago, but soon found Western politics did not work here. Decades of turmoil and civil war followed,” it said.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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