Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Fwd: China

'Through the wild swings of Chinese history since its Communist revolution in 1949, there has been one constant: Outsiders have rarely understood what was happening while it was happening.

During the Great Leap Forward, from 1958 to 1961, 30 million people or more starved to death in a Mao-created famine. The West had little clue.

During the Cultural Revolution, from 1966 to 1976, millions of people were tortured, internally exiled, unjustly imprisoned and otherwise abused in what Paul Hollander, in his invaluable book "Political Pilgrims," called "a destructive and bloody rampage." But at the time, most visitors to China had no understanding of what was taking place.

Today we believe once again that we know what the Chinese leadership is up to: fighting corruption, tightening political controls in order to promote economic reform, gradually strengthening the rule of law while bolstering national defenses so China can take its rightful place as one of the world's great powers.

Might we be wrong again? Could President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption crusade, for instance, be primarily a Stalinist purge of opposing factions in the Communist Party intended to strengthen his own hand?...

First, repression has increased markedly since Xi came to power two years ago.

Second, a prominent feature of the clampdown is a return to Maoist methods of intimidation, indoctrination and thought control...


Along with traditional methods, including imprisonment and torture, the regime has embraced public confessions, indoctrination and the kind of intense peer pressure that had fallen out of favor after the Cultural Revolution. "Peace managers" keep track of every household in some villages, and people suspected of wayward views have to file weekly "thought reports" and take part in "legal education" sessions, "often a euphemism for political indoctrination or forced conversion," Freedom House notes. Journalists face "a new ideological exam . . . based on a minimum 18-hour training course on topics like 'Marxist-news values,' with a 700-page manual…


Ironically, censorship — including about the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989 — has left many young people unaware of the party's record of brutality and so less afraid than they might be.'

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