As Foreign Affairs highlighted in an article on 27 February 2023, in its search for fresh sources for legitimizing its hold on power, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is now looking to law and order as a promising possibility.
World Watch Research (WWR) analyst Thomas Muller explains: “At a time when hoping for double digit and even high single digit economic growth is simply not realistic anymore, the CCP needs to find another foundation for the unwritten social contract of providing higher living standards (especially for the middle class) in return for accepting authoritarian rule. Security and rule by law (but not rule of law as in liberal countries) is now regarded as a promising avenue for a new source of legitimacy and has the advantage of also keeping the large number of government cadres and party members under control, especially at the local level.”
Thomas Muller continues: “It is, however, important to realize that rule by law means for the CCP first and foremost securing the dominance of the Communist Party. Consequently, its Central Committee issued a statement to law schools on 26 February 2023 (Bitter Winter, 2 March 2023), saying that erroneous concepts like the independence of the judiciary and Western constitutionalism (including the separation of powers with its checks and balances) should not be taught anymore. Under these new rules, Christians can expect even less understanding let alone sympathy for exercising their basic right of freedom of expression, even though it is guaranteed by the Constitution of China itself, albeit in a very limited way, as WWR’s Full Country Dossier on China explains (December 2022, p.53/Pressure in the 5 spheres of life/Block 4.1).”Thomas Muller adds: “Interestingly, a delegate at the Two Sessions legislative meeting taking place in March 2023 has proposed scrapping the legal accusation - used against countless dissidents and people seen as opposing the Communist Party, including Christians - known as the ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble’ crime (The Guardian, 28 February 2023). Although there is little chance that this proposal will be taken seriously, it is noteworthy that such a topic can be officially included at such a high-level meeting. Although many Christians have been charged with this crime, over the last two years the accusation of ‘illegal business operations’ and ‘commercial fraud’ has been used more widely.”