The mysterious disappearance of bookseller Lee Bo is by no means an isolated incident.
That and the abduction of his colleague, Gui Minhai, in Thailand in October were orchestrated by Beijing’s security apparatus not only to stop the publication of a book on the secret romantic life of President Xi Jinping but also to bring Hong Kong’s media industry into line.
Last year, Beijing’s liaison task force on Hong Kong and Macau affairs headed by Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the National People’s Congress, secretly ordered a crackdown on renegade publishers and media in Hong Kong that publish anti-China material or advocate secession.
On the other hand, top leaders in Beijing gave Leung Chun-ying and his government the green light to suppress academic freedom in the University of Hong Kong and root out liberal academics who took part in the 2014 pro-democracy protests.
It has become increasingly apparent that the long arm of Beijing law is interfering in the affairs of Hong Kong.
This has become the new norm, reminding people of the painful memories of the Cultural Revolution across the border in the 1960s.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the upheaval launched by Mao Zedong.
It appears President Xi, who is well known for his admiration for Mao, is determined to continue the great leader’s revolutionary legacy to make sure it continues to thrive into the future.
A 21st century ideological rectification movement spearheaded by Xi is in full swing across China, an attempt to further consolidate his power in the Communist Party and resurrect the one-man dictatorship of Mao’s reign.
There is little doubt Xi sees himself as the chosen one to inherit Mao’s mantle.
Since Xi took power in 2012, he has been obsessed with ideological reform to counter the influence of western values and purge his nation of human rights activists and political dissidents whose minds he believes have been poisoned by western propaganda.
By pressing ahead with this radical leftist approach, Xi has completely ditched the doctrine of economic development over ideology by the late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping.
Over the past three years Xi, with the help of a modern-day Gestapo, has launched a brutal and relentless crackdown on dissent across the country.
To make matters worse, he is also obsessed with bringing back the personality cult by ordering the state propaganda machine to promote his idealized, admirable and heroic image to the Chinese public.
Simply put, Xi wants to establish a kind of personal greatness comparable to that of Mao during the Cultural Revolution.
The late Du Runsheng, a respected party stalwart, also known as the “father of rural reform”, often warned of the dangers of resurrecting the Cultural Revolution and urged the nation to learn the painful lessons of history.
I bet he would be very upset at what Xi has been doing if were he around.
It seems another man-made national catastrophe is in the making, only this time we don’t have a highly capable and respectable figure like former premier Zhou Enlai to pick up the pieces.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan. 7.
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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