February 27, 2019
BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s ruling Communist Party warned party members on Wednesday to stick to Marx and Lenin and not believe in “ghosts and spirits”, in the latest effort to root out superstitious practices.
China officially guarantees freedom of religion for major belief systems like Christianity, Buddhism and Islam, but party members are meant to be atheists and are especially banned from participating in what China calls superstitious practices like visiting soothsayers.
There have been numerous scandals in recent years where senior party members have been accused of involvement in superstition.
A lengthy statement on how best to strengthen the party’s role and its leadership, issued on the official Xinhua news agency, said Marxism was the guiding thought for China and the party. “Resolutely prevent not believing in Marx and Lenin and believing in ghosts and spirits, not believing in the truth and believing in money,” the party statement said.
“Resolutely oppose all forms of mistaken thought that distorts, misrepresents or negates Marxism.”
President Xi Jinping said last year that the party’s decision to stick with the political theories of Karl Marx remained “totally correct”, to mark the 200th anniversary of the German philosopher’s birth.
Chinese people, especially the country’s leaders, have a long tradition of putting their faith in soothsaying and geomancy, looking for answers in times of doubt, need and chaos.
The practice has grown more risky amid a sweeping crackdown on deep-seated corruption launched by Xi upon assuming power in late 2012, in which dozens of senior officials have been imprisoned.
The founder of modern China, Mao Zedong, banned fortune telling and superstition in puritan, communist China after the 1949 revolution, but the occult has made a comeback since the still officially atheist country embraced economic reforms and began opening up in the late 1970s.
In one of the most famous recent cases, China’s powerful former security chief Zhou Yongkang was jailed for life in part due to accusations he leaked undisclosed state secrets to a fortune teller and healer called Cao Yongzheng, known as the “Xinjiang sage” after the far western region where he grew up.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Darren Schuettler
Source: Reuters “Stick to Marx not ‘ghosts and spirits’, China warns party members”
Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
Jeremy Goldkorn April 24
If you thought Communism was dead, Xi Jinping would like to remind you that it is very important to study the Communist Manifesto. Xinhua News Agency conveys Xi’s thoughts:
The purpose of reviewing the Communist Manifesto is to understand and grasp the power of the truth of Marxism and write a new chapter of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era, Xi said Monday when presiding over a group study session of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee…
…The ability of the whole Party to solve the practical problems of contemporary China with the basic principles of Marxism should be enhanced… More efforts should be made to develop Marxism in the 21st century and in contemporary China, and write a new chapter of adapting Marxism to the Chinese context, Xi said.
Versions of the same piece were lead items on all central state media. Xinhua’s Chinese website headlined the piece “Xi Jinping: Deeply understand and master the power of Marxist truth (习近平：深刻感悟和把握马克思主义真理力量 xí jìnpíng: shēnkè gǎnwù hé bǎwò mǎkèsī zhǔyì zhēnlǐ lìliàng).
One comment from New York Times reporter Chris Buckley, via tweet:
Xi convenes Politburo to celebrate the “Communist Manifesto,” 170 years after its first publication. But what is Xi’s communism? One clue is that his published comments do not once mention “proletariat,” “workers,” “class,” “capitalism,” or “bourgeoisie.”
Another view from respected China-watcher Bill Bishop’s newsletter today (paywall):
It matters little whether we foreigners think this talk of Marx and Communist is all just BS, and does not matter much more if most PRC citizens have tuned out. What matters is whether or not Xi believes it. For a long time I have thought he did and have only become more convinced of that over the last couple of years.
Yes, doubling down on Marxism is a means to an end for the Party, but that does not also mean that Xi himself is not an ardent Marxist whose fervor is only increasing as he sees a world evolving and fracturing in ways that would stir the loins of any sentient Chinese Marxist historical materialist.
Source: SubChina “Xi Jinping emphasizes the importance of the Communist Manifesto”
Note: This is SubChina’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
Since Deng Xiaoping began his reform and opening up capitalist in nature, there had been fierce debates between reformists and conservatives about the nature of the reform and opening up. Conservatives denounced the reform for its capitalist nature, but Deng and the reformists under him could not deny. Deng knew well as Maxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought were the dominant ideology at that time, there was no hope for him to defend his pursuit of capitalism against Marxism and Mao Zedong Thought. He resorted to a stalling strategy and told conservatives to wait and see the results of the reform and opening up.
After Tiananmen Protests, conservatism prevailed. Deng had to apply his power as paramount leader (“core of collective leadership” according to Deng’s term of expression) to force officials to carry on the reform. His successor Jiang Zemin had to play every trick to overcome conservatives’ opposition in order to continue Deng’s reform while establishing his power base.
However, when Jiang Zemin and Zhu Rongji had achieved obvious successes in conducting reform and opening up, the facts of successes silenced opposition. However, Jiang and the reformist theorists knew that ideology was very important in China. Feudal dynasties could each survive for two to three centuries due to the ideological dominance of Confucianism. Jiang had to justify the reform and opening up with Marxism, the dominant ideology in China now, so as to ensure the continuance of reform and CCP’s rule in China. To do so, he used the most fundamental Marxist doctrine that production relations shall suit the requirements of the development of advanced production force.
According to Marx, at first capitalist production relation the private ownership of means of production (enterprises) suited the requirements of the development of advanced productive force so that it replaced the feudal one and brought about prosperity. However, there is the basic contradiction of capitalism that the production is for the society but the means of production (the enterprises) are owned privately by capitalist entrepreneurs, who often make decisions on production for their own profits in disregard of the needs of the society, resulting in overproduction and overcapacity that gave rise to cyclical economic crisis. Marx believed that by that time, the capitalist production relation no longer suited the requirements of the development of advanced production force and should be replaced by communist production relation of public ownership and planned economy.
Marx instructed communists that they should represent the requirements of the development of the advanced productive force and carry out a revolution necessary to put all means of production (enterprises) under public ownership as required by the development of the advanced productive force so that the state can plan the production in accordance with the needs of the society. A planned economy would be the most efficient, Marx believed. Then as the production relations suit the requirements of the development of the advanced productive force, the economy will take off. There will be abundance of all kinds of products to meet the needs of all the people. Everyone including former capitalists whose assets have been confiscated will be benefited. So, Marx said that the proletariat (the working class) would emancipate the entire human race.
However, Marx was not able to foresee that public ownership and planned economy were good in theory, but have been proved inefficient by practice everywhere in the world.
The first of Jiang’s Three Represents goes deeper in Marxist theory for the communists to represent the requirements of the development of advanced productive force. It sums up the lessons of the failures of public ownership and planned economy and the successful experience of China’s capitalist reform and opening up to prove that capitalism instead of communist public ownership and planned economy suits the requirements of the development of advanced productive force in China now. That was why China remained poor and backward for more than two decades when it had monolithic public ownership and planned economy, but has become rich and prosperous in three decades since it began to carry out its reform and opening up capitalist in nature.
Since Jiang’s Three Represents were written into CCP’s constitution, there have no longer been any debates whether the reform and opening up are socialist or capitalist in nature. It is generally accepted that China’s reform and opening up are commensurate with Marxism. However, according to the constitution, CCP has not only Marxism but also Mao Zedong Thought as its guiding ideology. When Hu Jintao wanted to conduct further reform to encourage private enterprises and remove state-owned sector’s monopoly, conservatives represented by Bo Xilai began to use Mao to oppose Hu’s reform.
A fierce power struggle between conservatives and reformists broke out. For several years Hu was unable to conduct his further reform due to the opposition from vested interests, especially the group of corrupt officials, and from conservatives.
How Xi Jinping put an end to the fierce power struggle will be described in my article “The Conundrum of Xi Jinping’s Chinese Dream” later.
New York Times (NYT) recent article on China’s Maoist revival reflects Western China watchers’ ignorance of the fierce ideological struggle in China.
It is natural for Western China watchers to hope that China will be Westernized when it is modernized, but fail to see that at the beginning, westernization and modernization are closely linked, but as a country has further modernized, the rate of Westernization declines and the indigenous culture goes through a revival. That was clearly pointed out by talented American political scientist Samuel Huntington in his book Clash of Civilizations.
Before Xi Jiping took over the reigns, the then National People’s Congress (NPC) Chairman, a heavy weight of Jiang Zemin’s Shanghai faction, denounced Western democracy every year in his annual report to the NPC. Western values of democracy and human rights have never been accepted by CCP though China’s reformists want to conduct a thorough Western-style economic reform.
At that time, some pro-Western intellectuals were allowed to air their views in public but the government did so only to show to the West its tolerance of Western ideas.
Was that not very clear to the West when Liu Xiaobo was jailed for advocating the Western political system of multiparty democracy?
Still, in spite of their diligent analysis of Chinese government documents and media reports, Western China watchers fail to understand that China’s political system is the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) Dynasty with a core like an emperor. (Please refer to my book Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements.)
The first priority of the emperor, the core, is to maintain CCP’s monopoly of political power.
It is especially so for Xi Jinping who has been chosen by Jiang Zemin as the successor to Jiang’s status as the core.
When Xi took over the reigns in November 2012, the CCP was on the verge of collapse. In his speech to the press when he had just been elected the general secretary, he pointed out the many severe challenges CCP faced, especially corruption, being divorced from the mass of people, formalism and bureaucratism.
Soon he conducted his mass line education campaign to give the people the right of democratic supervision to overcome official despotism and make preparations for his anti-corruption storm. However, his insight did not stop there. He knew that CCP had to learn lessons from the collapse of the Soviet Communist Party.
In his speech to Guangdong officials in December 2012, he said the reason why the Soviet Communist Party, a party larger than CCP in terms of its proportion to Soviet population, disintegrated overnight was because the party had wavered in its ideal and faith and the party organizations had failed to play their role.
If one knows the core’s priority to maintain CCP’s monopoly of political power and to prevent the CCP from collapse like the Soviet Communist Party, one should naturally understand that when Xi has made satisfactory progress in dealing with the challenges of corruption, etc., he will certainly tighten ideological control so that the CCP may not waver in its ideal and faith.
However that is by no means the revival of Maoism. Maintain China’s economic growth is also Xi’s priority as without that the CCP will also be in danger of collapse. For that Xi is carrying out a further reform of thorough economic liberalization. Maoism has precisely been the major obstacle to Xi’s economic reform.
However, Maoism remains very popular among conservatives. That was why Bo Xilai used Maoism to rally all the conservatives around him and established his powerful conservative faction. The fierce power struggle between the reformists and the conservatives led by Bo Xilai is described in details in my book. (Refer to Chapter 13 “Fierce Battle for Succession to the Core–Xi Jinping’s Position as Hu Jintao’s Heir Precarious” of my book Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements Expanded 2nd Edition).
Therefore, Xi’s efforts to restore Marxist values by no means aim at a revival of Maoism that advocates class struggle, monolithic public ownership and planned economy.
Such Maoism has been refuted by the Three Represents, the first of which justifies the pursuit of capitalism while the third turns CCP into a party of the whole people. (Refer to the section titled “The Three Represents Signifies Scholars’ Conclusive Victory in Chapter 13 of my book Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements Expanded 2nd Edition).
Ignorance of what the Three Represents really means and the difference between China’s new Marxism and Maoism are characteristics of NYT’s and also C.I.A’s ignorance of Xi Jinping.
The danger for the US is if Xi revives Maoism, he will never succeed in his economic reform. As a result, the US can rest at ease that Chinese economy will lose steam and never be able to surpass the US. As a result the US will not be prepared to face a China that is not Westernized but stronger than the US a decade later.
The following is the full text of New York Times article:
China’s Maoist revival seeks to eliminate all western thought
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.
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.
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 2 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 centre,” 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.
“It’s a golden period to be a leftist in China,” Zhang Hongliang, a prominent neo-Maoist, said in an interview. “Xi Jinping has ushered in a fundamental change to the status quo, shattering the sky.”
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. And while their direct influence on the party leadership has been circumscribed, they have served as the party’s eager ideological inquisitors.
Their favourite enemies are almost always members of China’s beleaguered liberal circles: academics, journalists and rights activists who believe that liberal democracy, with its accompanying ideas of civil society and rule of law, offers the country the best way forward.
Mr. Xi’s recent orders and the accompanying surge of pressure on political foes further dispelled initial suspicions that his ideological hardening was a feint to establish his credibility with traditionalists as he settled into power. Instead, his continuing campaign against Western-inspired ideas has emboldened traditional party leftists.
“China watchers all need to stop saying this is all for show or that he’s turning left to turn right,” said Christopher K. Johnson, an expert on China at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, who formerly worked as a senior China analyst at the C.I.A. “This is a core part of the guy’s personality. The leftists certainly feel he’s their guy.”
In November, after Mr. Wang, the newspaper columnist, was dismissed from his job, the nationalist tabloid Global Times celebrated his downfall in a commentary. “In the future, the system will take a harder line towards the ‘pot-smashing party’,” it said, referring obliquely to Mr. Xi’s remarks about those who live off the party and then criticise it. “They will have a choice: change their ways or get out of the system.”
The latest directive, Document No. 30, demands cleansing Western-inspired liberal ideas from universities and other cultural institutions, according to Song Fangmin, a retired major-general, who discussed it with dozens of veteran party officials and hard-left activists at a meeting in Beijing in November. The directive formed a sequel to Document No. 9, which Mr. Xi authorised in April 2013, launching an offensive against ideas such as “civil society,” General Song said.
“These two documents are extremely important, and both summarise speeches by the general secretary,” he said, referring to Mr. Xi by his party title. “They identify targets so we can train our eyes on the targets of struggle.”
Unlike Document No. 9, which was widely circulated online, to the consternation of party leaders, No. 30 has not been openly published. But some of Mr. Xi’s comments have appeared in party publications, and references to it have surfaced on the websites of universities, party organisations and leftist groups, illuminating how the directive has coursed through the government to amplify pressure on dissent.
One political scientist from a prestigious Beijing university said that senior leaders had tried to keep the document confidential by transmitting it orally through the ranks. “This time it’s being kept top secret,” he said, “because last time things were far too public.”
But its effects have been apparent. Newspapers have accused universities of serving as incubators for antiparty thought, and campus party committees have been ordered to sharpen ideological controls. In June, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences revealed that a party investigator had accused the academy of harbouring ideological deviants. The investigator, Zhang Yingwei, said in a speech that the academy had been infiltrated by foreign subversion, and researchers were “wearing their scholarship as a disguise to create a smokescreen.”
The campaign has alarmed liberal academics, who fear that Mr. Xi is reviving the kind of incendiary denunciations of internal foes that have been rare since Chairman Mao convulsed the nation with his jeremiads against bourgeois thinking. Some, like Wu Si, a well-regarded liberal historian, take a longer view, and argue that realpolitik will eventually force Mr. Xi to adopt a more moderate position.
“It’s a self-defensive strategy against those who might try to call him a neoliberal,” Mr. Wu said in an interview.
Before Mr. Xi came to power in late 2012, few foresaw such a sharp and extended ideological turn. China’s leaders were then consumed with purging Bo Xilai, the ambitious politician who had courted party traditionalists by evoking Mao and the rhetoric of the revolutionary past. When Mr. Bo fell, his leftist followers came under official suspicion and some of their websites and publications were shut down.
Now, however, leftist voices are back in vogue. Analysts say it is unlikely Mr. Xi wants to take China back to Mao’s puritanical era, but doctrinaire Communists see him as a useful ally, and his directives as a license to attack liberal critics of the party.
“The leftists were under pressure for a while but now they are very active again,” said Chongyi Feng, an associate professor at the University of Technology, Sydney, who follows China’s intellectual and political developments. “Xi Jinping has used these people to attack.”
At a meeting in October, party secretaries of universities and colleges were summoned to discuss Mr. Xi’s instructions and urged to “enhance their sense of dangers and resolutely safeguard political security and ideological security.”
In November, The Liaoning Daily, a party newspaper in northeast China, drew nationwide attention with a report that said universities were troubled by ideological laxity. Chinese academics, it complained, were comparing Mao Zedong to an emperor, praising Western notions such as a separation of powers, and “believing that China should take the path of the West,” it said.
“It has become fashionable in university lecture halls to talk down China and malign this society,” said the report.
The ideological policing has sent a chill through China’s liberal intelligentsia. Several academics declined to be interviewed, saying they were lying low for the time being. Others said they had already experienced what they liken to an ideological purge.
Since October, Qiao Mu, the journalism professor and director of the Centre for International Communications Studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University, has been relegated to clerical drudgery, summarising English-language books in the school library, as retribution, he says, for his advocacy of Western-style journalism and a long affiliation with liberal civil society groups in China. In addition to barring him from the classroom, administrators slashed his salary by a third, he said, removed his name from the department’s website and forced his students to find other thesis advisers. “It’s meant to be a kind of humiliation,” he said, adding that he was told his demotion could last for years.
Officially, he is being punished for defying superiors who had withheld permission for him to travel abroad for conferences and other academic pursuits. But privately, school officials acknowledge growing pressure from above.
As he whiles away his days in the library, Mr. Qiao, 44, has become despondent. Some friends have suggested that he leave China, or at least compromise his values and do as he is told.
“I want to stay in my motherland,” he said, adding, “As I like to say, I have everything I need here in China, except freedom.”
Source: Chan Kai Yee Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements Expanded 2nd Edition
Source: New York Times – Maoists in China, Given New Life, Attack Dissent
People outside China usually regard China’s ideological control as originated from communism. That is entirely a misunderstanding.
Since Emperor Wudi (157BC to 87BC) of the Han Dynasty decided to adopt Confucianism as the dominant ideology, China had imposed strict Confucianist ideological control until the 1911 democratic revolution.
The only difference now is that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) wants to impose Marxist ideological control.
The following is the full text of Reuters report on Chinese President Xi Jinping imposing ideological control in Chinese colleges:
Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for greater “ideological guidance” in China’s universities and urged the study of Marxism, state media reported on Monday, as the country tightens control on Western ideology.
Xi’s comments are the latest sign of his politically conservative agenda and come amid a ratcheting up of controls over the media, dissidents and the internet.
China’s Communist Party has signaled that it will not embark on political reform, despite hopes that Xi, the son of a former liberal-minded vice premier, may loosen up.
Xi said universities had to “shoulder the burden of learning and researching the dissemination of Marxism”, Xinhua state news agency said.
Xi called on the authorities to step up the party’s “leadership and guidance” in universities as well as to “strengthen and improve the ideological and political work”.
The campuses should “cultivate and practice the core values of socialism in their teaching”, Xi said.
Curricula and speech at Chinese universities are tightly controlled by the government, though students have at times pushed the limits, including during the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests that were brutally suppressed by the army.
An influential party journal said in September that one of China’s top universities, Peking University, had urged students and teachers to “fight” criticism of the party.
Last year, a liberal Chinese economist who had been an outspoken critic of the party was expelled from Peking University after he called for democratic reforms.
Xi has espoused old school Maoism as he seeks to court powerful conservative elements in the party. Like many officials before him, Xi is steeped in the party’s long-held belief that loosening control too quickly, or even at all, could lead to chaos and the break up of the country.
Xi’s administration has overseen a crackdown on dissidents and on freedom of expression that many rights activists say is the most sustained and severe in years.
Last week, Chinese media reported that a university in northwestern China had banned Christmas, calling it a “kitsch” foreign celebration unbefitting of the country’s own traditions and made students watch propaganda films instead.
Source: Reuters “China’s Xi calls for tighter ideological control in universities”