Xi Jinping Thought, Declaration of ‘China Can Say No’ (9)
China punishes dissident Wu Gan with 8-year imprisonment for criticizing Chinese government. The punishment is regarded as quite severe as he had only regularly championed sensitive cases of government abuses of power, both online and in street protests. However, he had not advocated replacement of China’ one-party autocracy with Western democracy. Compared with the 11-year imprisonment Liu Xiaobo received for issuing a document on the replacement and collecting the signatures of thousands of people supporting the document. The 8-year imprisonment Wu Gan has got is quite severe.
Reuters says in its report “China chides U.S., German embassies after call for release of activist” on December 28 that the U.S. and German embassies issued a joint statement on December 27 to call for setting Wu free.
China soon responded strongly. Its foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press conference that the two embassies had “no right to criticize what was purely an internal affair of China’s and a matter of China’s judicial sovereignty” and “We hope that the relevant diplomatic missions can take the correct position with regards to their own responsibilities.” She, in addition, pointed out that China is a country with rule of law and justice officials handled cases in line with the law.
China says no so promptly and strongly as China now has self-confidence in its path, theory, system and culture as pointed out in Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping’s speech to CCP 19th Congress.
In the speech, Xi has set an ambitious goal for China to grow into a great socialist power by 2050.
If China can keep its fast economic growth, by 2050 it will by far surpass the US and replace the US as number one in the world.
US President Trump sees the potential replacement and wants US economy to grow faster but has encountered lots of obstacles. He has a tax reform approved by US Congress in order to boost US economy, but his policies may not be continued by his successor. At best, he can only be sure that his policies will last for 7 years if he can serve another term.
China is an autocracy, Xi is sure that he can serve two more terms, choose a successor to carry on his efforts to attain the goal while he will remain in control after his retirement like Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin.
Therefore, China is very likely to maintain its fast economic growth to surpass the US before 2050. Trump’s predecessor Obama saw that and began to adopt his policy of pivot to Asia to contain China but failed.
Now, the US adopts the Indo-Pacific strategy of quad to contain China, especially to hinder China’s Road and Belt plan, but quad is a military instead of economic strategy without being able to hinder China’s plan of win-win economic cooperation. China’s Belt and Road projects have been successfully carried out in Central Asia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Greece. With the win-win cooperation through its Belt and Road initiative, China will be able to maintain its relatively fast growth for the next two decades.
China’s grand plans to divert water from Tibet to Xinjiang will enable it to develop its west vigorously so as to maintain fast growth for another 3 decades. As a result, there are satisfactory prospects for China to attain its ambitious goal.
However, there may be serious setback.
In the course of China’s strife to attain the goal, the US will try its best to hinder China’s efforts. That is the influence of Thucydides Trap. Due to the trap, Obama began his pivot to Asia to contain China, but he did not admit that the pivot aimed at dealing with China’s rise.
Trump, however, says in his recent national security strategy openly that China is the most significant national security challenge among the five major threats from China, Russia, North Korea, Iran and Islamic terrorism.
China is accused of being determined to control information and data to repress its society and expand its influence. That may refer to China’s censorship, restriction of freedom of press and speech and China’s human rights system different from Western ones.
The strategy says that Trump’s doctrine is to promote individual liberty, rule of law, democratic governance, tolerance, and opportunity, which is in fact what the US has been doing for decades. It has resulted in the Tiananmen Protests, Liu Xiaobo’s Charter 08 manifesto for multi-party democracy and rights activists’ activities for human rights. China believes that such activities are instigated by the US to subvert Chinese Communist Party’s rule as the US regards promoting such activities as its doctrine.
Unlike the US that is spreading its values including individual liberty, democracy and human rights system, China has declared that it does not export its model. However, The stronger and richer China grows, the more popular its model becomes among the large number of developing countries and the deeper the US sinks in Thucydides Trap. The US will enhance its efforts to support Chinese dissidents in the hope that they will disturb China’s progress. Therefore China is defensive instead of offensive in saying no to the West in order to prevent the emergence of another Tiananmen Protests that will hinder China’ efforts to attain its ambitious goal.
As a result, China has tightened the screw in oppressing dissidents. However, I believe that it is not necessary as Xi has successfully fought rampant corruption, the major cause of Tiananmen Protests.
The separatist Islamic terrorism is a much more serious danger that may give rise to panic throughout China and hinder China’s grand plan to develop its vast west. That will make it impossible for China to attain its ambitious goal.
That is why Zhang Haitao is punished with 20-year imprisonment, much severer than Wu Gan. According to SCMP’s report “How questioning China’s security crackdown in Xinjiang led to a 20-year jail term”, Zhang questioned Xinjiang government’s policies and warned that government’s restriction on Uygurs’ religious practices may spark an insurgency only on the Internet. Unlike Wu Gan, he has not protested in the streets.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters and SCMP’s reports, full text of which can respectively be found at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-rights/china-chides-u-s-german-embassies-after-call-for-release-of-activist-idUSKBN1EM0TB and
Christian Shepherd December 26, 2017
BEIJING (Reuters) – China sentenced a prominent rights activist to eight years in jail for subversion on Tuesday, his lawyer said, the harshest sentence to be passed so far in a government crackdown on activism that began more than two years ago.
Wu Gan, a blogger better known by his online name “Super Vulgar Butcher”, regularly championed sensitive cases of government abuses of power, both online and in street protests. He was detained in May 2015 and later charged with subversion.
Yan Xin, Wu’s lawyer, told Reuters he planned to appeal against the eight-year sentence handed down by the Tianjin Municipality’s No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court.
Wu criticized China’s political system online and used performance art to create disturbances, as well as insulting people and spreading false information, according to a statement form the court posted on its website.
“He carried out a string of criminal actions to subvert state power and overthrow the socialist system and seriously harmed state security and social stability,” the court said.
Wu had been using his platform before his arrest to cast doubt on the official version of events in a controversial case in which a police officer shot a petitioner in a train station in northern China’s Heilongjiang province in May 2015.
His sentence is the most severe yet in what rights groups have called an unprecedented attack on China’s rights activists and lawyers, known as the 709 crackdown, which began in earnest on July 9, 2015.
The hardline approach to rights activism has shown no sign of softening as Chinese President Xi Jinping enters his second five-year term in office.
The decision to release the sentence the day after Christmas, when there would likely be less attention from diplomats and international observers, “reeks of cynical political calculation”, said Patrick Poon, Hong Kong-based researcher for Amnesty International.
China’s foreign ministry could not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Wu’s detention led to his father, Xu Xiaoshun, also taking up activism. Xu told Reuters in July he felt compelled to speak out on his son’s behalf after authorities asked him to say Wu was guilty.
The crackdown has also spurred other family members to take up activism.
Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Paul Tait
Source: Reuters “China hands down harshest sentence yet in multi-year rights crackdown”
Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
- Xi Jinping Thought, Declaration of ‘China Can Say No’ (1) on December 14
- China Says No to Western, Advocates Its Own Human Rights Standards on December 16
- China Held World Forum to Promote Its Human Rights System on December 20
- China tells U.S. not to be a ‘human rights judge’ after sanctions on Chinese official on December 23