Communist and post-Communist oppression China | 05 May 2023

China: Updated ideology, but no change towards human rights

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In a much published and strongly criticized decision, Chinese courts sentenced two human rights lawyers to 12 and 14 years imprisonment respectively (The Guardian, 11 April 2023).

World Watch Research analyst Thomas Muller fills in some background: “Ding Jiaxi and Xu Zhijong were leaders of the ‘New Citizens’ Movement’ and had called for constitutional reforms. They were sentenced for ‘subversing state power’, highlighting how seriously the Communist Party is taking any form of opposition, no matter how loosely it is organized. The newly released update of the ‘Working Procedures for the State Council’ shows instead where all Chinese Communist ideology is heading: With references to Marxism, Leninism, Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and the ideologies of former presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao deleted, ‘Xi Jinping Thought’ has become the single measuring rod for all government policies (Radio Free Asia, 29 March 2023). In this context, it is hardly surprising that newly published administrative measures for religious activity tighten up the regulations issued in 2005 and make the Sinicization of religion and the support of the leadership of the CCP mandatory (Bitter Winter, 7 April 2023).”

Thomas Muller adds: “Another illustration of the increasingly tighter ideological control is the news that ‘there were 25,000 fewer book titles released in China in 2022 than in 2021’ (China Media Project, 25 April 2023). One fifth of the drop was due to a decreased number of new original Chinese titles being published, while there was a 20,000 reduction in the number of foreign titles published in translation. In the China Media Project article, one publisher complained: ‘You cannot say China is bad, and you cannot say that foreign countries are good.’ An informal ban on topics considered sensitive has seemingly had a chilling effect and resulted in the cancelation of many publishing projects. The felt arbitrariness of the censoring system also contributed to the decline.”


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