China: A realistic look at the demonstrations

Posted: November 29, 2022 by chrisharper in Uncategorized
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By Christopher Harper

As the news media focus on stories about Chinese demonstrations against COVID rules, few analysts are looking at the obstacles the protestors face.

President Xi Jinping has installed two of his closest allies as leaders of the Chinese police and security forces.

Wang Xiaohong’s appointment as public security minister in June marked a significant breakthrough for Xi in his consolidation of power.

Xi and Wang have known each other since the mid-1990s when the former rose through the ranks in southeast Fujian province, and Wang was a senior policeman in the provincial capital, Fuzhou.

As China’s most powerful ruler since Mao Zedong, Xi oversaw a sweeping overhaul of the People’s Liberation Army during his first term from 2012 to 2017 when I first visited the country. t the time, China had a robust economy and little dissent.

Xi, however, locked down the propaganda machine even more than his recent predecessors. The party’s most important propaganda organs routinely offer fawning coverage of his activities, such as triumphal recent tours of Hong Kong and Xinjiang, where the dislike for the party leadership is highest.

But the third traditional pillar of Chinese party power, the internal security apparatus, or the “knife,” has been a relative holdout, Peter Mattis, an expert on China’s security apparatus, told The Financial Times.

In the year before Wang’s appointment as China’s top cop, at least three current or former public security vice-ministers were purged for corruption. Two of them were accused of colluding with each other, criticizing “the party’s major policies” and having “hugely inflated political ambitions.” “This is why [Xi’s] rectification campaign against the political-legal apparatus is so important,” said Mattis. “The progression through these areas is how Mao seized power.”

Xi has also worked diligently to install allies at the party’s Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, which oversees China’s police, state security, and courts. In a measure of its importance, the commission enjoys an official budget bigger than the military. Xi protégé Chen Yixin has been the CPLC’s general secretary and de facto head of operations since 2018.

Chen worked closely with Xi 20 years ago in Zhejiang province, where the future president served as governor and party secretary. Xi brought Chen to Beijing in 2015 and dispatched him to Hubei province, the center of the global coronavirus pandemic, to help stabilize the outbreak in 2020.

In a recent speech to internal security officials, Chen said: “Our party, country, and people are so lucky to have Xi Jinping as the core of the party, as the people’s leader and as commander-in-chief.

“He has the aura of leadership, outstanding intelligence, personal charisma, and the people are in his heart,” Chen added. “The more complicated the situation and the more arduous the task, the more we need Xi Jinping as our helmsman.”

While the media focus on et demonstrations, it’s essential to understand precisely the power of the Chinese state to put down any severe threats to the regime.

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