Xi’s Constitutionalist Rhetoric Resurfaces

Xi’s Constitutionalist Rhetoric Resurfaces

After tracing the evaporation of Xi Jinping’s early rhetoric about “ruling in accord with the constitution” last week, Qian Gang describes its reappearance in a September 5th speech as “a signal of some sort” ahead of next month’s rule-of-law-focused fourth Party plenum. He explains the shifting political fortunes of official tifa 提法 (watchwords), and his own color-coded system for mapping their status. From China Media Project:

Based on my observations of the ebb and flow of these constitutional terminologies employed by Xi Jinping, I believe they are closely tied to the internal struggle over constitutionalism in China.

[…] Certainly, there is often a “huge gap between how the system understands [something] and how the public understands it.” There are a lot of Chinese who hope ardently for reform, and every time this or that slogan appears they read their own hopes into it, often missing the fact that inside the shiny new bottle it’s the same old wine. [See more on this topic via CDT.]

[…] Many people, of course, don’t trust the slogans of the Chinese Communist Party. They’ll point out that the Party has always said one thing and done another. So even if they sign these two slogans about the constitution to the heavens, we can’t take this to mean they’re actually going to move in the direction of real constitutionalism. I’ll admit the reason in this too. However, I think it’s worth continuing to watch this deployment of watchwords. [Source]


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