Dr Perry Link and his astute observations on China under Xi Jinping.
But it seems to me that the real problem is not Xi but the CCP itself. With the passing of Jiang Zemin, many people regret that China does not have a leader like Jiang now. While I have no doubt that Jiang did not mess things up for China and the rest of the world as much as Xi did, times are different.
In other words, if it had been Jiang at the helm instead of Xi now, we could be seeing the same reversal of reforms and opening. When Jiang was in office, he cracked down on study groups that promoted Marxism and extolled the system in North Korea. During the qigong boom in China in the 1990s, a plethora of qigong schools emerged. The most popular was Falungong, founded by Li Hongzhi.
Many China observers who are not that observant are totally unaware that Falungong enjoyed top spot in the Chinese government’s relentless promotion of qigong in the 1990s. Government officials even went on state media to promote Falungong! Interestingly, some folks only heard about Falungong when the government cracked down on it and branded it as an evil cult. What happened? Why the sudden change from promotion to prohibition? Well, it’s believed that Li Hongzhi got so conceited that he claimed that there were more Falungong members than CCP members.
Li signed his own death warrant. As the Party lacks a mandate from the people, it’s understandable that Jiang and all other CCP leaders would feel extremely insecure when their legitimacy is put in doubt. Falungong could be allowed to flourish, but it must always be subordinate to the Party. Their teachings could never take precedence over communist ideology. During Jiang’s time when everyone was engrossed with getting rich, Li Hongzhi’s boast was a wake-up call. If reforms and opening were to go on unabted, the CCP would become irrelevant.
Since 2012 when Xi took over, he recognised that communist ideology was gradually being eroded as China became more prosperous, people better educated and connected with the rest of the world. But regardless of what they said, the reins were already tightening towards the end of Hu Jintao’s term in office. Xi had merely accelerated the trend towards regression. Changing the leader will not help as long as the threat to CCP supremacy is present. What would Bo Xilai have done? We’ll never know, but it’s unlikely to be less draconian than what it is now.
To the Party, Chinese people should worship their leaders and not stars like Zhao Wei or Jack Ma. Like Li Hongzhi, the latter’s downfall was triggered by a joke that if there were elections in China, Jack Ma would be president.