Xi’s Unwritten Rules vs. “Unimaginable” Resistance

Xi’s Unwritten Rules vs. “Unimaginable” Resistance

South China Morning Post’s Keira Lu Huang highlights a pseudonymous state media commentary describing “unimaginably fierce” resistance to Xi Jinping’s policies:

In unusually strong language, the article said the reforms were at a critical stage and had encountered immense difficulties, affecting the interests of various groups.

“The in-depth reform touches the basic issue of reconfiguring the lifeblood of this enormous economy and is aimed at making it healthier,” the article said. “The scale of the resistance is beyond what could have been imagined.”

[…] Xu Yaotong, a political science professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said the publication came amid concerns the anti-corruption campaign, which had targeted several top military officials and politicians, was waning and that other reforms had attracted opposition.

[…] He said the resistance could be from any of three powerful groups: retired leaders who wanted to exert influence, cadres whose power had been weakened and civil servants unhappy with austerity rules. [Source]

The piece was written by “Guo Ping,” an established pseudonym variously described as “the official nom de plume of the Information Office of the State Council” or the handle of “a group of writers close to Xi Jinping.”

At The Jamestown Foundation, Willy Lam describes the “unwritten rules” with which Xi is trying to overcome such opposition:

[…] Xi has to buttress his status as the ultimate arbiter of party affairs if he wants to steer the divided leadership toward preparation for the 19th Party Congress. Slated for late 2017, the congress is a conclave held every five years devoted to rejuvenation of the CCP’s top echelons as well as unveiling new political and economic initiatives. Firstly, Xi seems to have arrogated to himself the right to lay down “political rules” for cadres as well as the rank and file. The biggest crime cited against Ling [Jihua], who was classified a “state leader” (国家领导人) thanks to his former post of vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), was that he had “seriously violated the party’s political discipline and political rules” (Xinhua, July 21; BBC Chinese Service, July 20).

The term “political rules” (政治规矩) was coined by Xi in January this year. While addressing a plenary session of the party’s Central Commission on Disciplinary Inspection (CCDI)–China’s highest-level graft-buster–Xi demanded that officials acquire “a strict understanding of political discipline and political rules.” “We should give higher priority to following discipline and abiding by rules,” he added (People’s Daily, January 16; Xinhuanet, January 13). In internal and public speeches, Xi has identified the following activities as examples of the violation of party rules: “forming factions, cabals and mountain strongholds” within the party; “vacillations regarding matters of principle and issues of right and wrong;” “openly expressing views that are opposed to major political questions regarding the party’s theory, guidelines and policies;” and “feigning compliance with but actually going against the party’s goals and policies” (Phoenix TV, July 25; People’s Daily, January 11). […]

The term “political rules,” however, does not show up in formal documents, such as the Constitution of the Chinese or the regulations of the CCDI. According to Wang Yukai, a professor at the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of Governance, the concept of “political rules” appears vague and difficult to grasp: “It is unclear which kinds of actions can be subsumed under political rules or otherwise” (Ming Pao, July 22; WantChinatimes, July 21). [Source]

Read more on Xi’s anti-corruption campaign and reform in China via CDT.

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