Communist and post-Communist oppression China | 09 February 2023

China: Communist ideology front and center

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The old term “Socialist spiritual civilization” has gained a new lease of life after being revived by Secretary General of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Xi Jinping, as reported by Bitter Winter on 31 January 2023. He has now tried to introduce the “epic history of the CCP” as the source of spirituality needed by the Chinese people.

World Watch Research analyst Thomas Muller gives some background: “The term ‘Socialist spiritual civilization’ re-appeared in a collection of recent speeches by Xi Jinping, published in January 2023. This book has been made mandatory reading at schools and for CCP members. The term itself was coined by Deng Xiaoping almost 30 years ago and was promoted by Jiang Zemin. It arose from the realization that gaining wealth alone is not sufficient for satisfying the population’s needs and for keeping CCP rule stable. Xi Jinping’s focus on the ‘epic history of the CCP’ as being the source of spirituality for modern China may fall flat, however. It is very likely that the average Chinese man and woman will not find this focus to be enough and will continue to look for spirituality elsewhere.

Thomas Muller adds: “The Communist Party also keeps a close eye on what it calls ‘telling the China story well’. According to Radio Free Asia on 12 January 2023, the CCP recently expanded the section on Communist ideology in state exams for journalists. Since accreditation has to be renewed every three years, this increased focus on ideology will soon be felt by all journalists, putting an even bigger question-mark on reporting coming out of China. Finally, in a reminder that the authorities do not really need the COVID Health App for tracking people down, some protest leaders heading the November 2022 demonstrations were found and taken away even after the App had been switched off (Radio Free Asia, 18 December 2022). And as the Party Congress in October 2022 made clear, at a time when criticizing or speaking out against political decisions becomes tantamount to criticism of Xi Jinping (China File, 31 January 2023), no changes in putting Communist ideology front and center can be expected.”


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