Chinese President Xi Jinping’s secret in Giving Priority to mass line campaign

President Xi Jinping has repeatedly called for curbs of bribes and government spending. Photo: Xinhua

This is the article I promised to write in my previous post “Xi Jinping’s Balancing Art” to elaborate on Xi’s secret goal in conducting his mass line campaign.

CCP’s Real Crisis of Survival
“Being divorced from the masses of the people” is Xi Jinping’s euphemism for local officials turning CCP into the people’s enemy. Local despots’ infringement on people’s rights and interests gave rise to tens of thousands of people’s protests each year. There is statistics from investigation that before Xi took over the reign there were in China more than one hundred thousand incidents of mass protest to protect their rights every year.

CCP has set up agencies of letters and calls at various levels for petitioners to submit their complaints and provide remedy for them, but local agencies failed to provide remedy for people’s petitions. On the contrary, they mostly shielded the officials whose misconducts had been exposed by petitioners and tried hard to silence complaints and even persecuted petitioners. That was why lots of petitioners went to central agency of letters and calls to lodge their complaints.

Local despots set up black jails in Beijing to round up petitioners and persecuted them to silence them. If a petitioner persisted in petitioning, they imprisoned him in a local reeducation-through-labor camp without any legal procedures. People were forced to take to the streets to protest. However, instead of understanding and making allowance for people’s complaints, local governments sent armed police to suppress protesters with the excuse of maintaining stability. The masses of the people, though silenced by violence, remained indignant. Their indignation might erupt any time and would be impossible to suppress like volcano eruptions. That was the greatest threat faced by CCP at that time; therefore, for CCP, rectification of the malpractice of “being divorced from the masses” was instead the most important.

That was why Xi closed black jails and rectified CCP’s letter and calls agencies as soon as he took over the reign. He said that his second task was to abolish the reeducation-through-labor system. In spite of strong resistance from police and local governments, he succeeded in abolishing the system on December 28, 2013, one year after he was elected CCP general secretary.

Xi has thus removed the obstacles to people’s fight against local officials’ malpractices including corruption. Xi knows well that he shall not entirely deprive officials of their authority as the official system will be unable to operate without authority, but there must be people’s power to balance officials’ power, i.e. people shall have the power to inspect officials so that officials have to perform their obligations without abusing their authority.

In addition, Xi has been improving China’s legal system for the rule of law so that people have the last resort to use law to protect their rights and interests. That is why Xi wants China’s legal system to be independent. Some China watchers have insight that China’s legal system cannot be independent from CCP. Certainly, Xi only wants it to be independent from officials so that the legal system can help the masses of people inspect officials.

From the above we can see that Xi Jinping’s mass line education campaign is in fact a campaign of democratic supervision. However, Xi avoided the use of the wording that despotic officials have turned CCP into enemy of the people as that will be too sensational. Nor did he mention democracy as due to the Tiananmen Protests most conservatives hate the mentioning of democracy and regard it as what the West exploits for regime change. Xi is wise to avoid debate with conservatives over democracy. What he cares is the actual result instead of the wording in that campaign.

From Xi’ closing of black jails and abolishment of the reeducation-through-labor system, we must already be aware that Xi had a plan long ago to use the power of the masses of people to balance that of the vested-interest group of officials. With such a balance, he can make his official system serve the masses of people satisfactorily.

The mass line campaign has indeed brought fundamental changes to China’s official system. Before the campaign, people waited in long queue to go through some official formalities in government offices but the officials dealing with the formalities worked slowly while chatting joyfully. There were no such scenes in government offices now. Having been severely criticized by the masses of people, government staff now has to work diligently without chatting or doing anything else.

That is but the work style of lowest ranking officials. Can Xi touch the work style of high officials? High officials were criticized much more severely and the inspection teams sent by Xi to local governments focused on the work style of high officials especially top province-level officials. Most of the top officials were taken by surprise as they believed that Xi would instead conduct a nationwide anti-corruption campaign. Most of them did not worry as they were not corrupt. Xi however conducted a mass line education campaign that focused on their work style such as dealing with masses of people’s petitions and protests, extravagance in the ceremonies, receptions, visits, etc. such as the use of red carpet, decoration of lots of flowers, let alone the attending of luxurious banquets and drinking of expensive liquors.

A provincial head had great trouble when he had been seen having a subordinate holding an umbrella to keep rain away from him during his visit of a work site in the open. Such irregularities were very common but high officials found themselves in great trouble for such minor issues. As a result, Xi’s mass line campaign became a real purgatory for officials ranking high and low.

In this way, Xi has attained his secret goal of removing official despotism that he calls being divorced from the people and regards as the greatest threat to CCP’s survival. In addition, he has broken officials’ resistance to the nationwide anti-corruption campaign he was to carry out after the mass line campaign. The greatest secret goal he has achieved is the establishment of democratic supervision of officials by the masses of people. Only democratic supervision can provide long-term insurance for removal of corruption and purification of China’s official system.

Certainly, what Xi has done is but a beginning. There shall be lots more efforts to consolidate masses of people’s power of democratic supervision.

Article by Chan Kai Yee


10 Comments on “Chinese President Xi Jinping’s secret in Giving Priority to mass line campaign”

  1. Steve says:

    Excellent Commentary – from my perspective the difference between Democracy and Autocracy is just One Sheet of Plain Paper. Both needed wise leadership and an articulate helmsman to stir the ‘ship’ out of polluted waters. Late PM Lee Kwan Yew was regarded as a benevolent dictator, but does so for the benefit of the whole population. He transformed the tiny hub of Singapore then, to the wealthiest nation in Asia. Mr. Lee’s Autocratic rule was the only reason for Singapore’s success. The beginning was tough, he faced many headwinds, but Mr. Lee’s administration was honest and disciplined. He had to transform Singapore from the ruins of the corrupt British occupancy. Even Margaret Thatcher once said to PM Lee, if not for democracy, she would follow the same pursuit of Singapore’s political system. It’s true to say that democracy brings us trouble. Humans have too much vexation for Greed Anger and Delusion. Look at what the US did since the Vietnam war. They made up their own invasive corrupt laws against sovereign nations. Corruption has to Change from within government’s reform, it has Nothing to do with democracy at grass roots level, it’s the upper level.

    China has 1.3 billion people. Knowing Chinese behaviour, it can easily get out of hand under an American style democratic rule. President Xi’s honest and disciplined administration is China’s best hope for an Autocracy rule over ‘demoncrazy’ because it will end up worst than the US. It took US (according to former President Jimmy Carter) 60 years to subdue corruption. President Xi has been subduing China’s corruption for less than 5 years and it’s bearing fruit. I believe within less than two decades (20yrs) corruption in China will be subdued.

    This video of “Democracy brings us trouble.” is true not false. If one is a Buddhist practitioner, the principle of Autocracy for China is easier to understand. Democracy will bring China to a point of No Return. The corrupt Chinese Lawyers would be dreaming of the top job.

    Can you imagine the likes of former President Bush, Clinton, Obama and now old head Trump (who said recently he didn’t think it was so hard the job as US President) standing in Beijing challenging for the top job. US Presidency only last for 4 years before re-election, China’s Presidency is ten years. Furthermore, US voting is non compulsory.

    In 2012, only 57.2% of eligible US citizens voted, what a load of bullcrap, the other 42% are just useless democrats and yet the multi-party spend over 100 million dollars on election campaigns. Will China’s future democratic multi party spend over a billion dollars on election campaign.? Yes, because Chinese are huge spenders on big ticket items and falsehood.


  2. Gon says:

    Those local despots who behaves like thugs and gangsters should be sent to live in North Korea. They will surely feel very at home there.


  3. Steve says: ….. “Democracy Brings us Trouble”

    Please share your thoughts…Irrespective of whatever rulership or governmental policies, it has to be passed down from the Top in order to be instilled by persistent instructions as rule of law. To have law abiding citizens, the transparency of the rule of law must start from the top. President Xi started from the top by arresting tigers and flies. By doing so, the Chinese citizens truly respected his Presidential administration, but does it truly mean democracy is the insurance for removal of corruption and purification of China’s official system..? It’s All about principle, that is to do away with corruption. Are democratic nations such as the US free of corruption.? Personally, I prefer Autocracy. It suits China’s 1.3 billion Chinese Culture.

    The question is “What is the principle that underlies the doctrine of the rule of law.”

    Venerable Master Chin Kung is the Patriarch of the Pure Land Mahayana Buddhism. China was the first country to received the Dharma Doors of Pure Land and Chan Mahayana Buddhism.


    • Gon says:

      In the absence of one-man-one-vote democracy, after a strong leader, successors will find it problematical living in the shade of their predecessors and compared against them. They will have to win the support of “permanent” long-serving senior government and uniformed services officials in order to govern effectively. These “old-timers” government and uniformed services officials see themselves as the “governing establishment or elite” and will be prone to view any such novice or newbie successors critically against their experience, network and knowledge and respect.

      Which is to say, in such autocratic non-democratic one-man-one-vote system, a new leader should have the right to ask all top government and uniformed services officials to resign to make way for a new team. That is, all top officials should understand their positions are by appointments only and subject to changes by any new incoming leader. Not much different from what is the situation in most of the “democratic” developed countries.

      Like Commodus – the usurper of the throne of the emperor of Rome – was aware, the Western public, principally the American public, are the “mob” and as a “mob”, they like to be entertained. And the election campaigns see their “gladiators” battling each other out for the glory of being the sole survivor while entertaining the mob at the same time. But the ultimate power however lies not with the victor but with the “deep State’ emperor. As long as the mob are entertained, the emperor can do whatever he wants.

      The point is here is – Do we need to go through these expensive, resource sapping, time wasting exercise? Well, the answer is, if you want to continue being entertained, carry on.

      The late Singaporean Prime Minister Like Lee Kuan Yew understands the importance of maintaining the “facade” of democracy and keeping Washington happy and so he takes Singaporeans through the motion of election campaigns and voting exercise once every 4-5 years although in truth he feels it is a needless exercise. But it does give him a justification or fool proof alibi to continue being in power “legitimately” for many years.

      From experience, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew found the best way to find top sucessors is following the Shell Petroleum company method of applying “Current Potential”. That is, let the senior management decide who they think or believe is the best or most qualified colleague to lead them. That is, who amongst them should be “primus inter pares” – ie the first amongst equals. Then after, the general elections.

      To an extent the CCP system is a bit like the this neutral, objective, natural non-ideological leadership selection in the corporate world. Not dissimilarly, the CCP members elects the Politburo members who in turn elects the Standing Committee of “Cabinet”. Much like Board of Directos being elected at a AGM, and who in turn sets up the various portfolios or sub committees in the BOD, as well as appoints the CEO and its senior management. The only difference is the Westerners goes one level higher in terms of a general election to attain what they believe will be a check and balance on the powerful rich and the corporations. Which as events demonstrate now, is unrealistic.

      So, perhaps, better to do away with the entertaining but time consuming “democratic” general elections and get straight to the business of managing a country for the betterment of all?


      • Steve says:

        My apologies – The above is my reply to you. I clicked the the wrong column.


        • Gon says:

          “The only difference is the Westerners goes one level higher in terms of a general election to attain what they believe will be a check and balance on the powerful rich and the corporations. Which as events demonstrate now, is unrealistic.”

          One caveat : It is unrealistic because in America, the capitalists, ie the rich, controls the politicians and the political process. That is, the underlying system of belief of “free market” means money talks, and the rich with the most money becomes increasingly more powerful and in effect becomes the oligarchs ruling the country from behindat the end of the day.

          Compared with this, in China, as in Russia under President Putin, the capitalists or rich, does not control the political process. On the contrary, the neutral and non ideological Politburo controls the politicians and the political process, even the executive cabinet or “standing committee” which can be influenced or corrupted by the rich capitalists. This is a key difference.

          Even then, this is not a fool proof system. Ultimately, it still boils down to the strength, and character of the top man. But if the system selects and supports such men, it is less likely to be corrupted, degraded and abused so bring the wrong type of person into that top chair. The CCP’s system is better than the American’s which is faulty at the core where its foundation is built on the philosophy of money rules, and the love of money being the root of all evil, eventually causes the entire system to hollow out in terms of the wrong types of people occupying the high chairs, eventually collapses, breaking out into revolutions or civil wars in society as what is trending now in the U.S.

          Yes, the danger is money and the love of money. A country that allows such beliefs to underpin its governance is ultimately a loser.


          • Steve says:

            Historically, the USA was built on the foundation of genocide against the Nth American Indians. This hegemonic practice is still relevant in later years against the Peoples of Korea,Laos, Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, Syria and elsewhere. US greed to be global leader has transformed becoming a serial perpetrator of genocide of many millions until today. Greed is the root of all evil, in fact all US wars are genocide. It is obvious that such hegemonic practices transformed into mega wealth for the rich and corrupt politicians.


            • Gon says:

              Very true. Before the advent of aeroplanes and missiles, wars were fought only between the armies of opposing camps. But even since Hitler made the mistake of bombing London, the British, and subsequently the Japanese, and the Americans, used that filmsy excuse and precedent to change the rules and conduct of war. The wholesale massacre or murder of entire unarmed civilian population – innocent, vulnerable babies, children, old women & men, women .. – were now acceptable! And they had the audacity to say Genghis Khan was the biggest psychotic mass murderer in the history of the world!

              The shame and distinction should go to the Anglo-Saxon-Americans which also includes the Germans. For them to be so concerned about human rights and genocide in other countries is sheer hypocrisy.

              The day when the U.S. Empire is overthrown and the annhilation of entire cities is strictly prohibited and weapons of war, especially weapons of mass destruction destroyed and forbidden, that will be the day when the world turns to a new plane and change the questionable politico-economic-socio basis of human “civilzation” as promulgated by the Anglo-Saxon-Americans, to reach a new and better world order. America – the “butcher of the world” – will no longer be allowed to lead in the new world order regulated by a council of guardians from amongst the wisest and ablest rulers on this planet. Politics and political ideology including political Jihadism will be prohibited, the use of money no longer required, a productivity system will be in place manned by humans, robots and powerful computers to ensure basic needs for
              every person will be met, and families will be planned and each child will be identified according to their natural strenghts, talents and weaknesses and trained in suitable vocation in that respect.

              The “dirty pool of water” democratic system that is America which allowed scums, scoundrels, and morons, to rise to the surface instead of settling at the bottom or even filtered in the first place, will be removed,and a fresh clean “pool” of water will replace it.

              Is it possible Russia and China will trend towards this new paradigm and establish the new plane for a higher civilization on this planet?


              • Steve says:

                Good question – I did mention in one of my much earlier (months back) post, that many decades ago, there was an enlightened Chinese Venerable Master Bu Xu, who was asked by his disciples then, about the state of our worldly affairs in the future especially China. Venerable Bu Xu said that in the future, the ‘World will be in three divisions.’

                During the 1960s, another enlightened Venerable Master Hsuan Hua was asked during one of his dharma discourses by a disciple to please explain what is meant by ‘the world will be in three divisions.’ Master Hsuan Hua explained that in the future our world will be ‘governed by three superpowers.’

                If taken literally, it means three individual superpower countries ( it may not be the correct case scenario).

                Or, there could be a number of superpower countries within each superpower divisions. In other words, each division may represent an umbrella body, as an example SCO. In the case of SCO, there will be 3 superpowers within the division, i.e. China, Russia and India (not yet a member). Again, the definition of superpower status could be referred to either Economy and/or Military. China is definitely a superpower in economy and military, India will be an economic superpower and Russia a military power. I believe this prediction to be truthful, as we can see the turmoil caused by western powers imposing sanctions and genocidal wars.

                The prophesy of this prediction, the ‘world in three divisions’, may formulate within the next three decades after a major war.? We know that Russia is suffering with sanctions and getting very tired of US and China is tired of those unrepentant sneaky barbaric savages across the ECS & Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia getting closer to Russia and China. NATO is largely dependent on US and the EU may disintegrate in the future. The Asia Pacific is flourishing.