The first was “Western constitutional democracy”; others included promoting “universal values” of human rights, Western-inspired notions of media independence and civic participation, ardently pro-market “neo-liberalism,” and “nihilist” criticisms of the party’s traumatic past.
The airing of Document #9 comes amidst other signs of Xi’s embrace of Maoism, both rhetorically and tactically. “Our red nation will never change color,” he declared at a speech earlier this summer from a village that has close historical ties to Mao Zedong. Xi’s “rectification” campaign, in which he urges discipline, loyalty, strength, and purity within the Party, also has echoes of Mao.Why is this happening now? Maoist firebrand Bo Xilai goes to trial later this week, so Xi may be trying to shore up his left flank internally. But there’s also an undercurrent of general unease coursing through China’s body politic:
Even as Mr. Xi has sought to prepare some reforms to expose China’s economy to stronger market forces, he has undertaken a “mass line” campaign to enforce party authority that goes beyond the party’s periodic calls for discipline. The internal warnings to cadres show that Mr. Xi’s confident public face has been accompanied by fears that the party is vulnerable to an economic slowdown, public anger about corruption and challenges from liberals impatient for political change.
Recent murmurs of reform and the growing ability of Chinese netizens to hold officials responsible for some of China’s social and environmental problems may have galvanized Party leaders to reinforce one-party control of the state. Officials have interpreted recent protests over editorial censorship, such as those over the Southern Weekend newspaper affair, as attacks that undermine and subvert Party control. Various state-run publications seem to have gotten the message loud and clear:
“Constitutionalism belongs only to capitalism,” said one commentary in the overseas edition of the People’s Daily. Constitutionalism “is a weapon for information and psychological warfare used by the magnates of American monopoly capitalism and their proxies in China to subvert China’s socialist system,” said another commentary in the paper.
China is gearing up to celebrate the 120th anniversary of Mao’s birth later this year. The town where he was born is spending $1 billion on a spruce-up. “Xi is really starting to show his true colors,” a childhood friend of Xi’s told the Journal. “I think this is just the beginning.” Fun times ahead for China watchers![Xi Jinping photo courtesy of Shutterstock]