How Xi Jinping’s opposition opposes him: analysis
There is a growing turbulence in the political atmosphere in China. With the “Big Two”, as the plenary meetings of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the National People’s Congress (APN), scheduled for May 21 and 22, respectively, the opposition to the Chinese president are known Xi Jinping is visibly increasing. The plenary sessions of the CPPCC and the APN, held in Beijing every March but delayed this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, will have almost 7,000 deputies and officials from all over the country gathered to discuss and pass laws, the national budget anticipating the economic situation for next year, and the national defense and security budgets. Xi Jinping’s opponents seem to perceive this as an opportunity to broaden the scope of the criticism and gain the support of the assembled deputies.
Criticism of Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) emerged when Xi Jinping, in March 2018, abolished term limits for top positions, allowing him and others chosen by him to continue beyond the accepted retirement age. Large numbers of party members and retired cadres who suffered during the violent decade of the cultural revolution, in apprehending Mao Zedong’s return to the “one-man rule”, oppose him. Other factors also contributed to the spread of dissatisfaction with the regime. Mismanagement of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan and the death of Dr. Li Wenliang, punished for making the news of the coronavirus public, led to an increase in public discontent and criticism. Add to that the cases of apparent subtle protest by some publications of provincial party organizations.
Criticism focused mainly on the party controlling everything; Increasingly stringent and intrusive security controls; the generalized Social Credit Management system that evaluates the loyalty and reliability of each individual to allow or retain benefits; expand party surveillance; imposition of party ideology on educational institutions; undue centralization of authority; and dismiss Deng Xiaoping’s policy of “lying low, waiting your time.” The perception that the “China Dream” was slipping away from leadership was also growing due to protest movements in Hong Kong, the reelection of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Taiwan and tensions in the South China Sea. Various party cadres, academics and officials in Chinese think tanks privately blame Xi Jinping’s aggressive foreign policy for China’s increasing international isolation and rapidly deteriorating relations with the United States (US).
The unemployed, whose number rose from around 20 million in 2019 to an estimated 70-80 million in March this year, and complaints from staff of the former People’s Liberation Army (EPL), added to growing discontent. This has been exacerbated by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on China’s economy. Despite calls by Chinese President Xi Jinping to cadres since early February to resume production, economic recovery has been slow. Discouraged by government policies and the expansion of state-owned enterprises (SoE) in all sectors of the economy, prominent Chinese businessmen have publicly voiced complaints and, in late March, delivered a letter to Xi Jinping seeking reforms. These included a call for a return to Deng Xiaoping’s policy of “lying low, waiting your time.” Leading Chinese economists have stated that, unless the US economies. USA And as Europe begins to recover, China cannot wait for its economy to revive.
In the midst of this, and almost unprecedented in communist China, people blamed the CCP and Xi Jinping. Many top party cadres, officials, intellectuals, academics, students, and others have risked punishment for criticizing Xi Jinping on their social media. Intellectuals and teachers like Xu Zhongrun, Xu Zhiyong, Zhang Xuezhong, and Yu Linqi have demanded from WeChat that Xi Jinping resign. These posts have gone viral. An important indication of serious internal discontent was seen in a WeChat report on March 22 when “princelings”, sons of senior Party cadres, called for an “Extended Emergency Meeting of the Chinese Communist Party Politburo (CCP) “. to discuss Xi Jinping’s replacement.
A May 5 essay in PLA Daily described the bleak economic and political situation as having reached a “high explosive point,” which foreign powers could use to provoke social unrest. Concerned about the evolution of the situation, Xi Jinping established a new high-level “Small Group”, with nine of his loyal members as “to prevent and crack down on activities that jeopardize the country’s political security.” It fell hard on Hong Kong, increased pressure on Taiwan, and improved China’s presence in the South China Sea.
Xi Jinping is mentally tough and, as a “little prince”, he has strong connections with the party’s veterans. Their trusted loyalists occupy crucial powerful positions. It is unlikely to quietly back down in the face of opposition from the internal party. The new “Small Group” is a clear warning for opponents, “little princes” and Party veterans to line up. But whether they do so depends on the extent of the opposition at the middle and higher levels of the Party and its veterans.
Jayadeva Ranade is a former additional secretary, Cabinet Secretary, Government of India. He is currently president of the China Analysis and Strategy Center.
The opinions expressed are personal.