Chinese professor publishes scathing critique of Xi Jinping's administration, calls out president's personality cult

Chinese president Xi Jinping, who enjoys near unanimous approval in the corridors of power in Beijing, has encountered a rare display of dissent. Xu Zhangrun, a professor of law at Beijing's Tsinghua University, wrote an essay critical of Xi's administration. The essay has been uploaded to the university's official website.

As written in The New York Times, Xu said, "People nationwide, including the entire bureaucratic elite, feel once more lost in uncertainty about the direction of the country and about their own personal security, and the rising anxiety has spread into a degree of panic throughout society."

In his essay, that was later translated to English by Geremie R Barme, Xu spoke specifically of three problems afflicting the regime in China: Party nobility, special needs provisioning, and a new personality cult.

Party nobility: The system of the present "dynasty" allows for the State to provide inclusive retirement-to-grave care for high-level cadres according to a standard that is far and away above that allowed to the average citizen, Xu is said to have written in his blog.

 Chinese professor publishes scathing critique of Xi Jinpings administration, calls out presidents personality cult

File image of Xi Jinping. Reuters

The point comes on the back of a decision taken by Xi Jinping's government earlier this year, when it abolished presidential term limits from the Constitution, potentially allowing Xi to remain in power for the rest of his life. The CPC central committee removed the clause that the president and vice-president "shall serve no more than two consecutive terms" from the country's Constitution, in the decision taken in February this year.

A decision like this, Xu wrote, is causing anger to rise. "People are outraged but powerless to do anything about it; it is one of the main reasons people hold the system itself in utter contempt. On one side of the hospital, commoners face the challenge of gaining admission for treatment, while everyone knows grand suites are reserved on the other side for the care of high-level cadres. People despise you for it. Every iota of this bottled up anger may, at some unexpected moment, explode with thunderous fury," he wrote.

Special needs provisioning: Xu wrote that the Special Needs Provisioning system in China allows high-ranking party officials access to a range of specialty products that commoners aren't afford. "The luxury afforded these people is only outdone by the shamelessness of their indulgence," Xu wrote.

"Of course, inequalities exist in all societies and disparities in ability and wealth are natural, but they are a result not due to the fact that the ideal playing field imagined by our citizens does not include a level starting point; that doesn’t even take into account the outrage of allowing a small group of Party grandees to be continuously supplied from the coffers of the state," Xu wrote.

Personality cult: Xu writes of a new form of personality cult that's pervading the "sacred land". "More importantly, we need to ask how a vast country like China, one that was previously so ruinously served by a Personality Cult, simply has no resistance to this new cult, and this includes those droves of 'Theoreticians’ and ‘Researchers'," Xu's article said.

The personality cult he wrote about referred to Xi Jinping's. As has previously been argued elsewhere, including in an editorial on Globe and Mail, "The Chinese Constitution has added a preamble that cements 'Xi Jinping thought on Socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era' as the cornerstone of Chinese Communism, and he has popularised an image of himself as the Confucian ideal of an all-seeing 'sage-king'. The Chinese media long ago dubbed Xi the 'Chairman of Everything', for having subsumed so many formerly autonomous departments and bureaucracies."

Another report on The New York Times has spoken of how Xi's personality cult impacts everyday Chinese citizens. "Xi's slogans are splashed across front pages, and his speeches dominate the evening news. His voice booms from giant television screens in busy plazas and his image hangs inside homes, restaurants and taxi cabs — often alongside Mao's," The New York Times said.

Updated Date: Aug 01, 2018 17:08:31 IST