Wary of Unrest, China Cracks Down on Dissent

The Chinese government has recently initiated a new round of suppression. China Digital Times has covered the Chinese government’s harsh crackdowns extensively. But what accounts for this sudden period of intense suppression? Some say that this is indicative of behind-the-scenes factional infighting between reformers and hardliners in the CCP. From the LA Times:

“Things are very strict right now. It is the most serious it has been since 1989,” said Jin Zhong, a veteran political analyst based in Hong Kong, referring to the suppression of protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Jin believes Chinese authorities have been spooked by the uprisings in the Middle East and by anonymous calls circulated on the Internet for sympathy protests, even though attendance was sparse.

“The Communist Party feels like it is sitting on top of a volcano,” Jin said. “The political situation is not so different as in Egypt or Libya. We are also an authoritarian country ruled by one party, and they fear the anger of the people.”

But some China analysts believe the government’s extreme reaction suggests that hard-liners are seizing the opportunity to elevate their own positions and to undermine any potential reformers, namely Premier Wen Jiabao. Wen caused a stir last year with a speech in Shenzhen calling for political reform, remarks he repeated during last month’s gathering of the National People’s Congress.

But Wu Bangguo, chairman of the National People’s Congress, who outranks Wen, told the parliamentary body last month that China would not give up one-party rule. “If we waver … the fruits of development that we have already achieved will be lost and the country could even fall into the abyss of civil strife.”

The stakes are elevated by the upcoming transition of power in 2012, when President Hu Jintao is set to resign as party head to make way for the next generation of leadership.

Learn more about the reformers and hardliners in China by reading Premier Wen Jiabao’s calls for reform and Wu Bangguo’s rejection of reform.

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