23 March 2019
A Communist Party magazine has attacked He Weifang for his critical stance on the rule of law in China. Photo:
A Communist Party magazine has attacked He Weifang for his critical stance on the rule of law in China. Photo:

China closes door on western values

If you think life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is a good thing, then shame on you.

That’s the gist of new directives from Beijing, which in no uncertain terms seek to put the kibosh on western ideas in an effort to enforce the Communist Party’s authority.

China is setting up an entirely new, mandatory way to look at the world in yet another sign that as its economy grows, the country is closing itself off from the West in a significant way, Business Insider said.

Mandates for universities to teach core socialist values that “enhance the leadership of the Communist Party of China” went out in late December.

Since then, professors have reported tighter controls, including government monitors filing covert reports on classroom lectures, AP reported.

Last week’s target was think tanks.

“Think tanks should stick to Marxist ideology, follow the CPC’s leadership and provide intellectual support to rejuvenate the nation,” a Xinhua report on the decree said.

It said think tanks have until 2020 not only to get with the program but to “wield major global influence”.

The call for greater “ideological guidance” does not come willy-nilly.

A confidential internal memo called Document No. 9, widely circulated within the party in 2013 and first cited by the New York Times in August that year, warned that power could escape the party’s grip unless it eradicated subversive western currents coursing through Chinese society.

“Western forces hostile to China and dissidents within the country are still constantly infiltrating the ideological sphere,” the memo said, highlighting seven dangerous western values, including those relating to constitutional democracy, human rights and press freedom.

In the blatant self-preservation department, the memo also forbade criticism of past errors the party may have made and put a halt to the second-guessing of plans on reform and opening up.

To be sure, democracy, freedom and human rights have been debated in China for more than 30 years, but until now, senior leaders have pretty much voiced their views through the party’s mouthpiece, the People’s Daily.

President Xi Jinping told the politburo Friday that all members of the party should value ideological work and promote “core socialist values”, state media reported.

Xi also stressed that dialectical materialism, a strand of Marxist philosophy, should provide party members with the right approach to problem solving as China continues on its path to reform and development.

That approach basically means China will not let western values undermine party rule, opting instead — for better or worse — to work out all its problems and challenges on its own, both domestically and abroad.

“We should grasp new traits in new phases of development and stipulate guidelines in accordance with reality,” Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.

He said ideology should be the heart of the party, the report said.

Critics of China’s renewed Marxist path, Business Insider said, are being publicly shamed.

On Sunday, the Communist Party magazine Qiushi Journal openly attacked a prominent Peking University law professor, He Weifang.

He has been critical of the government, calling high-profile corruption trials “satire” and arguing that Chinese communism and a strong rule of law don’t mix at US institutions like Princeton University and the Brookings Institute, a leading think tank.

He was called out by Qiushi for his stance on the rule of law in China — which the government itself has acknowledged is weak by creating an extensive anti-corruption campaign.

To further curtail western influence, China recently blocked several popular virtual private network systems that many Chinese use to visit websites outside the country.

State media said the VPNs had been blocked “for safety”.


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A strategist and marketing consultant on China business

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