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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Restructuring or crackdown: how to change Chinese communism

Not far off the main political event in China in October in Beijing will host the next Congress of the Communist party. It is expected major update of party cadres. However, the key post of Secretary-General is likely to remain for XI Jinping. Recently, he received the official title “core” of the party, concentrating in its hands more power than did his predecessors. And no wonder: the Chinese version of communism is facing great challenges. The development of modern technologies of information exchange could weaken the iron grip of censorship. And the slowdown in economic growth is to undermine the people’s confidence in the current system. “MK” tried to figure out whether China is the new “restructuring” or, on the contrary, the “crackdown”.

photo: ru.wikipedia.org

Chinese spiders of the web

System of Internet censorship, or the “great Chinese firewall” exists almost since the advent of the world wide web in China. But with the widespread use of smartphones to control platform for the exchange of views is becoming increasingly difficult. Instant messaging with encryption of messages give the opportunity to freely criticize the actions of the Communist party, and VPN technology, allowing to make the user anonymous to log in is blocked in China sites. Such software and applications are prohibited in China, but some still manage to use them.

But the Chinese cyberpolice is not sitting idly by. In 2015, the New York Times reported that several cellular phone users in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous region of China, the mobile operators have blocked the connection and asked them to contact the police. The police have smartphones, explained that blocking affected those who did not specify their name in social networks, uses VPN to go to banned in China, websites or downloaded blocked in the country messenger WhatsApp and Telegram. Phones back in the hands of the owners only after the police removed them with all the “dangerous” app.

And in early August, the office for cyberspace, the PRC announced that it has started an investigation against the largest Chinese social networks, WeChat, Weibo and Tieba. The Internet platform had charged that they had not blocked pornography and criticism of the Communist party, as well as incitement to terrorism and violence.

The fact that some of the functions of the censors in China has been shifted to the Internet company. Now administrators of all platforms for exchanges must ensure that users were registered only under their real names and to filter the content of comments. And in most cases, the public messages are published only after prior censorship. Internet companies do nothing except to agree to cooperation: Chinese social networks have a huge audience, and bring a good profit to their owners.

Cultural evolution

In parallel, the Chinese government seeks to reduce foreign influence in the culture, spreading the “traditional values”. According to the magazine The Economist, the ideology of the party under XI Jinping, the has changed significantly. If during the “cultural revolution” destroyed all “remnants” of the Chinese past, today the tradition in the middle Kingdom reborn. In schools, children are taught the fundamentals of Confucianism, the state media are promoting traditional medicine, encouraged festivals of ancient Chinese culture, the local analogues of the Western holidays, and sports. TV in recent years began to broadcast less purely entertaining show that is patterned after Western patterns, and more “moral” views.

Confucianism as a doctrine prescribing to obey elders and the government, is ideal for consolidation of the population around the figure of the leader. Moreover, many elements of this philosophy, the Chinese learn more at the family level, even without realizing it. But the pressure on Buddhism and Islam in China continues. As suggested by The Economist, the government in China sees these religions as competitors in the struggle for the hearts and minds of people.

“The Communist party of China strengthens its control over the public sphere, and as — said in comments to “MK” head of the School of Oriental studies, HSE, specialist in the study of China Alexey Maslov. But at the same time it changes the form of government, that is, returns to the elite group of people who must be absolutely clean in terms of corruption and are not involved in Commerce. In the field of planning of economic mechanisms, it is also not going to surrender their positions. The Chinese leadership is now giving impetus to a new movement to restructure the economy and politics of the country, for example, the policy of “One belt and one road”. It is through this that it strengthens their position. The relaxation of censorship in the near future is also not expected. Moreover, China is improving methods of control of the Internet and means of communication.

But the main threat of the Communist party is not the development of technology or the Internet. The fact is that while China is rapidly developing, and when he had double digit growth, nobody doubted the correctness of the course its leaders. But as soon as the growth of the Chinese economy began to slow down as soon as it was discovered flagrant cases of corruption, immediately started talking about whether the existing system of power. That’s why the Communist party is now going to correct their mistakes. Most importantly, its leadership itself actively expresses their mistakes, it does not hide any instances of corruption, of mistakes in planning of the economy.

So in the next decade China will be definitely a Communist country. The power system will be cemented together, but at the same time to change. The Communist party will surely have the younger generation active managers, business executives. And it will move in the direction of greater openness in the economy.”

“The Chinese Communist party will be flexible enough to respond to changes in society, as it does for a number of years. — adds academician and Advisor of Gennady chuphrin. Although some challenges associated with the development of digital technologies, the Internet can be perceived as a channel for uncontrolled criticism of the Chinese leadership. But overall no serious problems in relations between the Communist party and society should not be expected. At the same time will take new measures to respond to the emergence of the latest technologies.”

The heavy tread si

In fact, the highest organ of state power in China is the standing Committee of the Politburo of the Communist party. It is composed of seven people who currently occupy other high posts in the country. XI Jinping, for example, combines the post of Secretary General of the party and the President of the country. To prevent a repetition of dictatorship on the model of Mao Zedong, the standing Committee based on the principles of collective leadership. In Chinese “seven” it is impossible to rule more than two terms of five consecutive years, in addition, there is an unspoken age limit — 67 years.

The Secretary General in China, though traditionally occupies the highest position, but cannot rule alone. However, observers note that XI is not similar to its predecessors. He is actively breaking party etiquette, concentrating in its hands more and more power. In 2016, the Plenary officially called it the “core” of the party. The title of this technically does not add any power, but captures in the minds of the Chinese people and its image as a strong (and sole) ruler.

After coming to power in 2012, XI launched a massive campaign against corruption, promising to “beat the tigers and flies”, that is, the small and large officials. According to bi-Bi-si, as a result of various cases of corruption have been convicted of more than one million officials of various ranks. According to one version, the Chairman of China killed this campaign at once two hares: has gained a huge popularity among the people and removed from key positions of his opponents, replacing them with supporters.

This year’s five-year stay, XI Jinping at the highest post in China like the end. Autumn party Congress must decide whether to approve it.

“The probability that XI will remain at the head of the Communist party, or even go for a third term is very large. — says Alexey Maslov. Now you have already created a database for this. First, it’s officially called the “core” of the nation. Secondly, it is not notified about any potential successors, and now is the time. This suggests that XI is in one way or another will remain in power, but not the fact that it will retain the current position. Perhaps his post would be worded as “the leader of the nation” and he, like Deng Xiaoping, will remain in power, while not having formal authority.

This will strengthen China, and another thing, will this someone better than him. Preservation of the Communist system means the preservation of a rather aggressive economic policy of China, the author is XI Jinping. In my opinion, he wants to stay for a third term not because he loves power but because of his intended plans impossible to realize ten years, it is more long-term perspective. Preservation of XI Jinping at the helm of the country would mean not only the strengthening of authoritarian rule, but also a powerful gait of China to the outside world”.

However, some researchers believe that economic growth and authoritarianism cannot long go hand in hand. Well-known economists Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson believe that without democratic reforms, the Chinese economy will soon run out of steam, like the economy of the USSR, which in the initial stages struck the world explosive growth, but then switched to stagnation. In his work “Why are some countries rich and others poor,” the researchers emphasize: “In the case of China the growth process based on catch-up effect, on the import of foreign technology and exporting low-tech industrial products will continue for some time. Nevertheless, it will end — at least when China reaches the standard of living, comparable to srednerazmernye countries of transitional economy”. And then the stability of the Communist system in China will be called into question.


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