China’s Maoists Are Revived as Thought PolicePosted: January 4, 2015
China’s old guard leftists are a loose network of officials and former officials, sons and daughters of party veterans, and ardently anti-Western academics and journalists. They look back to the precepts of Marx, Lenin and especially Mao to try to reverse the effects of China’s free-market policies and the spread of values anathema to party tradition.
HONG KONG — Chris Buckley and Andrew Jacobs reporting: They pounce on bloggers who dare mock their beloved Chairman Mao. They scour the nation’s classrooms and newspapers for strains of Western-inspired liberal heresies. And they have taken down professors, journalists and others deemed disloyal to Communist Party orthodoxy.
China’s Maoist ideologues are resurgent after languishing in the political desert, buoyed by President Xi Jinping’s traditionalist tilt and emboldened by internal party decrees that have declared open season on Chinese academics, artists and party cadres seen as insufficiently red.
“Never allow singing to a tune contrary to the party center, Never allow eating the Communist Party’s food and then smashing the Communist Party’s cooking pots.”
— Xi Jinping
Ideological vigilantes have played a pivotal role in the downfall of Wang Congsheng, a law professor in Beijing who was detained and then suspended from teaching after posting online criticisms of the party. Another target was Wang Yaofeng, a newspaper columnist who voiced support for the recent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and then found himself without a job.
“It’s a golden period to be a leftist in China. Xi Jinping has ushered in a fundamental change to the status quo, shattering the sky.”
— Zhang Hongliang, a prominent neo-Maoist
“Since Xi came to power, the pressure and control over freethinkers has become really tight,” said Qiao Mu, a Beijing journalism professor who was demoted this fall, in part for publicly espousing multiparty elections and free speech. “More and more of my friends and colleagues are experiencing fear and harassment.”
Two years into a sweeping offensive against dissent, Mr. Xi has been intensifying his focus on perceived ideological opponents, sending ripples through universities, publishing houses and the news media and emboldening hard-liners who have hailed him as a worthy successor to Mao Zedong.
In instructions published last week, Mr. Xi urged universities to “enhance guidance over thinking and keep a tight grip on leading ideological work in higher education,” Xinhua, the official news agency, reported.
In internal decrees, he has been blunter, attacking liberal thinking as a pernicious threat that has contaminated the Communist Party’s ranks, and calling on officials to purge the nation of ideas that run counter to modern China’s Marxist-Leninist foundations.
“Never allow singing to a tune contrary to the party center,” he wrote in comments that began to appear on party and university websites in October. “Never allow eating the Communist Party’s food and then smashing the Communist Party’s cooking pots.”
The latter-day Maoists, whose influence had faltered before Mr. Xi came to power, have also been encouraged by another internal document, Document No. 30, which reinforces warnings that Western-inspired notions of media independence, “universal values” and criticism of Mao threaten the party’s survival…(read more)
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