China Aims to Stamp Out 'Western Constitutional Democracy'

Monday, 19 Aug 2013 10:41 PM

By Cathy Burke

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China's Communist Party is passing around a memo from senior leaders, referred to as "Document No. 9," warning of the "seven perils" for the party -- listing the No. 1 danger as "Western constitutional democracy," The New York Times reported Monday.

Other perils include promoting “universal values” of human rights, Western-inspired notions of media independence and civil society, ardently pro-market “neo-liberalism,” and “nihilist” criticisms of the party’s traumatic past, The Times reported.

The list comes from Xi Jinping, China’s new top leader, who has tried to prepare some reforms to expose China’s economy to stronger market forces -- but has also undertaken a campaign to enforce party authority, The Times reported.

“Western forces hostile to China and dissidents within the country are still constantly infiltrating the ideological sphere,” says Document No. 9, which was issued in April.

A version of the document, which hasn't been openly published, was shown to The Times and verified by four sources close to senior officials, including an editor with a party newspaper, The Times reported.

The hard line signals a shift to a more conservative stance with Xi's “rectification” campaign and attempts to defend the legacy of Mao Zedong, the newspaper reported.

The edicts have been distributed at a series of must-attend study sessions.

“Promotion of Western constitutional democracy is an attempt to negate the party’s leadership,” Cheng Xinping, a deputy head of propaganda for Hengyang, a city in Hunan, told a gathering of mining industry officials.

Human rights advocates, he continued, want “ultimately to form a force for political confrontation.”

The memo appears similar to another issued earlier this year and reported by the Sunday Times, in London.

In that memo, officials were told they must “completely understand the harm of viewpoints and theories propagated by the West” and “use battlefield tactics” to defeat liberals.

The Sunday Times also reported a memo sent to China's universities told them to avoid “seven evil subjects" -- listed as "universal values; western ideas of the freedom of the press; civil society; civic rights; historical mistakes of the Communist party; crony networks; and judicial independence."

The conservative shift is a disappointment for reformists.

“There’s no doubt then it had direct endorsement from Xi Jinping,” Li Weidong, a political commentator and former magazine editor in Beijing, told The New York Times. “It’s certainly had his approval and reflects his general views.”

Since the document was issued, there's been a torrent of commentary and articles in party-run periodicals.

“Constitutionalism belongs only to capitalism,” said one in the overseas edition of the People’s Daily.

Constitutionalism “is a weapon for information and psychological warfare used by the magnates of American monopoly capitalism and their proxies in China to subvert China’s socialist system,” said another in the paper, The Times reported.

Xi will face another ideological test later in the year when the Communist Party celebrates the 120th anniversary of Mao’s birth. The scale of those celebrations hasn't been announced, but Xiangtan, the area in Hunan Province that encompasses Mao’s hometown, is spending $1 billion to spruce up for the occasion, The Times reported.

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