The Strategist

The Mysterious 'Open Letter' to Chinese President

03/30/2016 - 16:34

Chinese law enforcement agencies are looking for authors of an "open letter" to President Xi Jinping, which calls on him to resign. The authors did not give their names but instead signed as "loyal members of the Communist Party". They accuse the Chinese leader in an authoritarian governing style and numerous failures in domestic and foreign policy. According to the Chinese opposition media, already 20 people have been detained on suspicion of involvement in the letter’s preparation. Hunt for dissidents inside the CCP is taking place amid growing discontent with the Communist Party’s monopoly on dissemination of information.

Day Donaldson via flickr
Day Donaldson via flickr
"My family, parents and younger brothers, living in China, were abducted by the authorities on this Tuesday; they disappeared, - wrote Wen Yunchao, the Chinese dissident living in USA, on 25 March on Twitter. - President Obama, please ask him (probably Chinese President) to release my parents and brothers."

Later, in an interview with New York Times, Wen Yunchao said he made contact with the law enforcement authorities of the PRC, and told them that he has nothing to do with the letter. "The police said that they knew about it, yet they want to get a tip-off about those involved in writing or distributing. They threatened that otherwise my younger brother could lose his job", - he says.

The scandalous address to the chairman Xi Jinping appeared on news site Wujie News on March 4, the day of the joint meeting of China's parliament and local "public chamber". "You have concentrated all the power in your hands, which led to a crisis in the political, economic, social and ideological spheres," - the authors wrote. They accused Xi Jinping in "forgetting the tradition of collective democratic decision-making", "weakening all the public authorities in their favor 'and giving too much authority to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, responsible for the anticorruption company.

According to the authors, Xi Jinping moved away from the covenants of the architect of Chinese reforms, Deng Xiaoping, called not to expend energy on confrontation with other countries. This led to the fact that North Korea is testing a nuclear weapon near the Chinese border, the United States "have successfully carried out a turn to the east, forming an alliance with Japan, South Korea and countries in Southeast Asia", and anti-Pekin forces are strengthening in Taiwan and Hong Kong. 

Speaking about the economy, the authors criticized President for failing to prevent the turmoil in the real estate and financial markets. They also mentioned ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ initiative, which is called an expensive project aimed at "regions engulfed in chaos." Finally, in the sphere of ideology, secretary general of China is credited with creation of the cult of personality and appointment of wife's relatives and loyal workers to key positions.

The letter was quickly removed, and search queries blocked, but it was only the beginning. On March 15, the Chinese police in Beijing airport arrested and taken to an unknown destination a well-known journalist Jia Jia, who has gently criticized the Chinese authorities before. After a week and a half, on 25 March, according to his wife, he was released, but have not got in touch with media yet.

In the following days, 16 representatives of the portal Wujie News’ editorial board ‘got lost’ in the same way. Besides that, two younger brothers and a sister of the journalist Chang Pin, who wrote on Deutsche Welle in support to Jia Jia, disappeared as well. "I found out that the police require the members of my family to contact me and ask to immediately cease the publication of criticism of the authorities", - said Chang Pin in a letter to China Change portal. 

The story of the "open letter" has become a new episode of a large-scale campaign to "strengthen discipline" in the Chinese press. February 19, Xi Jinping visited the editorial board of three major Chinese state media holdings and outlined his vision of their work. "All the media controlled by the party must transfer the will of the party and its ideas, as well as to protect the credibility and unity of the party – he said. - Journalists should study Marxism, and transfer optimism and faith in the power of the party to the mass."

A retired Chinese retired tycoon Ren Zhiqiang nicknamed Gun, has 38 million subscribers on Chinese microblogs, retorted: state media are not financed by the Communist Party, but from taxes of ordinary citizens. "If no major media reflect the public interest, people become forgotten and abandoned", - he wrote in a Chinese social media similar to Twitter. After that, both of his accounts in the networks of Tencent and Sina holdings were closed. According to a superviser of social networks, it has been made in connection with "spread of illegal information, perniciously influencing people."

Meanwhile, another open letter, allegedly written by an employee of the main state news agency "Xinhua", quickly spread in social networks on March 3. "The ruthless policy of Internet censorship, established in China, is suppression of any expression of one’s position in the network," - wrote Zhou Fang. He strongly condemned the removal of Ren Zhiqiang’s accounts, calling it an "the cultural revolution outrage". New York Times’ journalists tried to reach him by phone and ask to confirm the letter’s authenticity. However, "Xinhua" staff told reporters they don’t have such a colleague.


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