China’s ruling Communist Party is ramping up calls for political loyalty in a year of sensitive anniversaries, warning against “erroneous thoughts” as officials fall over themselves to pledge allegiance to President Xi Jinping and his philosophy.
This year is marked by some delicate milestones: 30 years since the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in and around Tiananmen Square; 60 years since the Dalai Lama fled from Tibet into exile; and finally, on Oct. 1, 70 years since the founding of Communist China.
Born of turmoil and revolution, the Communist Party came to power in 1949 on the back of decades of civil war in which millions died, and has always been on high alert for “luan”, or “chaos”, and valued stability above all else.
“This year is the 70th anniversary of the founding of new China,” Xi told legislators from Inner Mongolia on Tuesday, the opening day of the annual meeting of parliament. “Maintaining sustained, healthy economic development and social stability is a mission that is extremely arduous.”
Xi has tightened the party’s grip on almost every facet of government and life since assuming power in late 2012.
Last year parliament amended the country’s constitution to remove term limits and allow him to stay in office for the rest of his life, should he so wish, though it is unclear if that will happen and Xi has not mentioned it in public.
Later in the year the party will likely hold a plenum of its top leadership focused on what China calls “party building”, diplomats and sources with ties to China’s leadership say, a concept that refers to furthering party control and ensuring its instructions are followed to the letter.
In late January the party again stressed loyalty in new rules on “strengthening party political building”, telling members they should not fake loyalty or be “low-level red”, in a lengthy document carried by state media.
“Be on high alert to all kinds of erroneous thoughts, vague understandings, and bad phenomena in ideological areas,” it warned. “Keep your eyes open, see things early and move on them fast.”