Overseas political news website Boxun obtained a purported memo from a telephone conference of the National Security Commission describing official efforts toward a unified crackdown on politically-liberal thought and civil society. In the contemporary Chinese political context, a devotion to tenets of political liberalism—such as universal human rights values, freedom, and democracy—is referred to as “rightist” (右派). (For a helpful primer on this phraseology, easily misunderstood from a Western political perspective, see Tea Leaf Nation’s 2012 translation of an infographic “Guide to Chinese Politics.”) In this leaked correspondence, well known pro-democracy, human rights activists who have recently found themselves on trial are called “major rightists” (主要右派). Boxun’s post is translated below, and important context is noted in brackets:
New Anti-rightist Strategy Deployment:
- A list of the country’s major rightists shall be compiled to National Security Commission for developing a unified plan for their management. Regional flexibility in the punishment of rightists will not be tolerated.
- Search for innovative legal instruments to control, and then indict, representative individuals from that list.
- Do not accept interference from international and domestic public opinion. The fight against rightist hostile forces must have theoretical and judicial confidence. [This follows on the rhetoric of the “Confidence Doctrine” (自信论), a signature political philosophy of Xi Jinping’s administration.]
- To internally illustrate this political agenda to our national legal apparatus, focus must be put on domestic judicial cases against hostile rightist forces. Allow the entire judiciary to firmly grasp the political direction of how such cases are handled, and to understand that the administration of justice unconditionally follows the Party’s will. For example, the case of Xu Zhiyong was handled to curb the instigation of mass disturbance by so-called liberal intellectuals; the case of Gao Yu was handled to stifle the communication channels of those “Democracy elders” [former senior officials who advocate democracy] to the international community; the case of Guo Yushan was handled to combat the infiltration and sabotage of the country by foreign reactionary NGOs; the case of Pu Zhiqiang was handled to restrain so-called “diehard” lawyers from disturbing and damaging the normal judicial order; the case of Guo Feixiong was handled to contain street disturbances in the southern part of the country; etc.
- Mobilize all means of propaganda and public opinion guidance to make it clear to the masses and to the international community that our crackdown on these hostile elements in necessary and just. Create strong public opinion with positive energy. [Chinese]
Founded last year, the National Security Commission is directly overseen by Xi Jinping. Read more about the Xi administration’s ongoing campaigns to promote ideological orthodoxy, which have included a drive against Western values in academia and within the Party, the presidential praising of nationalistic bloggers and the development of propaganda strategies fit for the digital age, and most recently the drafting of the Foreign NGO Management Law, which has attracted criticism for its overly-broad definition of non-government organization.