China's President Calls on Law Enforcement to Protect Party Rule


2017.01.13
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china-xi-jinping-disciplinary-committee-jan6-2017.jpg Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at a session of the Communist Party of China's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection in Beijing, Jan. 6, 2017.
Xinhua

President Xi Jinping, who has unleashed a wide-ranging crackdown on rights activists and civil groups in recent years, has warned the country's domestic security regime to protect the ruling Chinese Communist Party's grip on power above all else.

Speaking at a high-level meeting of the party's central committee on law enforcement, Xi said the government should prioritize political stability amid rising social tensions.

"Protecting national political security and regime security should be made top priority," Xi told the meeting, according to state media reports.

"We should also improve our ability to predict conflicts of all kinds," he said, warning that the 19th Party Congress later this year will require a "stable social environment."

Hubei rights activist Yuan Xiaohua said 2017 is a big year for Xi's administration, and his appeal to domestic law enforcement agencies means that he is keen to ensure their loyalty in the face of potential unrest.

"These are all agencies that are part of the machinery of state violence," Yuan said. "He probably wants to rely on them to use force to uphold the so-called stability of the regime."

"It's clear that 2017 is a big year for stability maintenance, and it's possible that they will use any methods necessary to suppress civil society; I think this means that an escalation [of the current crackdown] is likely," Yuan said.

Growing unrest

Beijing-based rights activist Wang Debang said social unrest in China—which sees thousands of strikes, protests, and mass petitions around the country every week—is still on the rise.

"They haven't managed to resolve these tensions after all these years," Wang said. "If anything, they are intensifying."

He said cases like that of Lei Yang, whose death in police custody led to the firing of several police officers last year, are continually emerging, fueling public anger with the government.

According to Wang, Xi's speech showed that the president still feels insecure in his grip on power.

"It's clear that he is in fact facing a major crisis, that the ruling faction within the party hasn't been able to impose unity or achieve a basic consensus," Wang said.

"It also shows that the power struggle between the factions is still extremely fierce."

Taiwan-based rights activist Stefanie Ngai said human rights in China have deteriorated under Xi.

"We were hoping that China would move towards democratization, and gradually towards the rule of law, too," Ngai told RFA. "But now they are nakedly concerned only with maintaining the regime."

She said the more the government expresses concern about stability, the less stable the regime becomes.

"At least they used to act confident in the past. Now they've just come right out and said it," Ngai said. "The ruling principle of the Communist Party is that nothing is more important than itself."

Reported by Yang Fan for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Ng Yik-tung and Sing Man for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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