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Politics - The Party's Leading Role

The Constitution states that freedom of speech and freedom of the press are fundamental rights to be enjoyed by all citizens; however, the Government tightly restricted these rights in practice. The Government interpreted the Party's "leading role," as mandated in the preamble to the Constitution, as circumscribing these rights. The Government strictly regulated the establishment and management of publications. The Government did not permit citizens to publish or broadcast criticisms of senior leaders or opinions that directly challenged Communist Party rule. The Party and Government continued to control many and, on occasion, all print and broadcast media tightly and used them to propagate the current ideological line. All media employees were under explicit, public orders to follow CCP directives and "guide public opinion," as directed by political authorities. Both formal and informal guidelines continued to require journalists to avoid coverage of many politically sensitive topics. These public orders, guidelines, and statutes greatly restricted the freedom of broadcast journalists and newspapers to report the news and led to a high degree of self-censorship.

The Constitution provides for freedom of peaceful assembly; however, the Government severely restricted this right in practice. The Constitution stipulates that such activities may not challenge "Party leadership" or infringe upon the "interests of the State." Protests against the political system or national leaders were prohibited. Authorities denied permits and quickly moved to suppress demonstrations involving expression of dissenting political views.

The Constitution provides for freedom of association; however, the Government restricted this right in practice. Communist Party policy and government regulations require that all professional, social, and economic organizations officially register with, and be approved by, the Government. Ostensibly aimed at restricting secret societies and criminal gangs, these regulations also prevent the formation of truly autonomous political, human rights, religious, spiritual, environmental, labor, and youth organizations that might directly challenge government authority. Since 1999, all concerts, sports events, exercise classes, or other meetings of more than 200 persons require approval from Public Security authorities.

The Constitution provides for freedom of religious belief and the freedom not to believe; however, the Government sought to restrict religious practice to government-sanctioned organizations and registered places of worship and to control the growth and scope of the activity of religious groups. There are five official religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Protestantism, and Catholicism. A government-affiliated association monitored and supervised the activities of each of the five faiths. Membership in religions was growing rapidly. While the Government generally did not seek to suppress this growth outright, it tried to control and regulate religious groups to prevent the rise of sources of authority outside the control of the Government and the Party.

The law does not prohibit religious believers from holding public office; however, most influential positions in government were reserved for Party members, and Party officials stated that Party membership and religious belief are incompatible. Party membership also was required for almost all high-level positions in government and in state-owned businesses and organizations. The Party reportedly issued circulars ordering Party members not to adhere to religious beliefs. The Routine Service Regulations of the People's Liberation Army state explicitly that servicemen "may not take part in religious or superstitious activities." Party and PLA personnel have been expelled for adhering to Falun Gong beliefs. In November, an international company that employs over 100,000 women in the country reported that it had revised its Chinese sales force agreement to remove an explicit ban on Falun Gong members.

Despite official regulations encouraging officials to be atheists, in some localities as many as 25 percent of Party officials engaged in some kind of religious activity. Most of these officials practiced Buddhism or a folk religion. The National People's Congress (NPC) included several religious representatives. Two of the NPC Standing Committee's vice chairmen are Fu Tieshan, a bishop and vice-chairman of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, and Pagbalha Geleg Namgyai, a Tibetan "reincarnate lama." Religious groups also were represented in the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, an advisory forum for "multiparty" cooperation and consultation led by the CCP, and in local and provincial governments. During the year, Director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs Ye Xiaowen publicly emphasized that the guiding "Three Represents" ideology includes serving the interests of "the more than 100 million persons with religious beliefs." In a widely reported July speech, he stated that "upholding the propaganda and education on atheism and upholding the policy on freedom of religious belief are both correct and necessary."

According to the Constitution, the NPC is the highest organ of state power. Formally, it elects the President and Vice President, selects the Premier and Vice Premiers, and elects the Chairman of the State Central Military Commission. In practice, the NPC Standing Committee oversees these elections and determines the agenda and procedure for the NPC under the direct authority of the CCP's Politburo Standing Committee. The NPC does not have the power to set policy or remove Government or Party leaders. In general, the election and agenda of people's congresses at all levels remained under the firm control of the CCP, the paramount source of political authority. By the end of 2003, 23 provincial Party leaders had been named to head concurrently provincial people's congresses in order to strengthen Party control over the legislatures.

The National People’s Congress never had real decision-making power. But at the 2018 session, the Communist Party’s firm grip over the 2980 delegates was on full display. The agenda was an extension of last fall’s Party Congress. The most important decisions were aimed at tearing down the boundaries between the party and the state. The delegates dropped the two-term limit for the presidency, allowing Xi Jinping to keep the office past 2023 – in addition to the more powerful post of CCP General Secretary, which has no term limit. The constitution was also be amended to include the "leadership of the Communist Party of China" in Article 1 – elevating it from a mere guiding principle in the preamble to a binding provision. The preamble was altered to include the “Xi Jinping Thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era" as well as several of Xi’s foreign policy slogans such as the principle that China “follows a path of peaceful development and pursues a mutually beneficial strategy of opening up.“

The NPC also passed the controversial National Supervision Law and established a National Supervision Commission. Entrusted with the prosecution of suspects in Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign, this commission is a perfect example of the merging of party and state functions. It consolidated the respective party and state offices, effectively expanding the reach of the anti-corruption campaign from CCP members to all state officials – from managers of state-owned enterprises to university professors.

China's Communist Party leadership took new steps to assert its control over state broadcasters and a regulator for all types of media from movies to TV programs and books. The moves will put the party more squarely in charge as it seeks to improve it’s messaging at home and boost China's image abroad. The party approved the creation of what is being called the “Voice of China,” a proposed merger of three top broadcasters — China Central Television, China Radio International and China National Radio — into one entity. It also dissolved the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television or (SAPPRFT) — a body that oversees everything from foreign films coming into China to TV programs and books. Both are now more firmly under the thumb of the communist party’s propaganda department.

Xi Jinping made a speech on "Preventing Major Risks" on 21 January 2019. The core prority was "political security." Political security is regime security. It is to "protect the country." Zheng Yefu, a professor at Peking University, subsequently wrote an article "Who will protect the country for?", specifically discussing why the ruling party protects the country without cost and for whom. Zheng Yefu pointed out, "In short, the protection of the country is for a privileged class." However, to keep the country, there is a problem of intergenerational transmission.

The current ruling group in China has encountered a rare problem in human history, that is, the desire of a high proportion of the descendants of the privileged class to stay in the country has weakened, replaced by the desire to emigrate overseas. Many reasons have contributed to their preferring to leave. This is a result of the extreme deterioration of the natural and social environment, and the deterioration of the social environment is the worse of the two. The privileged class became rich by destroying the rudimentary legal system, and immediately felt the crisis of losing the law. After destroying their own home, the offspring of the privileged class have to go abroad to find cleanliness and safety. Second, the family's wealth has changed the minds of future generations, and they are greedy for comfort. Third, the astronomical cost of maintaining stability by their parents has made their children and grandchildren fearful. Fourth, during the forty years from 1980 to 2020, a considerable number of Chinese have emigrated abroad, and the privileged class is the first and the highest proportion of immigrants abroad. Therefore, this is tantamount to letting the descendants of the privileged class of China vote with their feet: they do not love the country, love the United States. The weakness of the ruler is his descendants. They can suppress their subjects, but they can't suppress the rational choice of their grandchildren: to integrate into the world and live a civilized life.

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Page last modified: 01-08-2021 14:06:40 ZULU