19 February 2018
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  • » 11/15/2017, 16.13

    CHINA

    Xi Jinping’s new era begins with scholars reduced to silence

    Wang Zhicheng

    Guizhou University cancelled the classes of Prof Yang Shaozheng, who was told to “keep my mouth shut and not make any kind of political statements." Fearing Chinese retaliation, publisher withdraws a book by Australian scholar Clive Hamilton. To avoid ending up like the USRR, Xi will brook no criticism. Conferences across the country outline Party congress goals.

    Beijing (AsiaNews) – The new era Xi Jinping outlined in his long speech in last month’s Communist Party congress has led to scholars forced into silence, censored publications and blocked websites because of any remarks vaguely critical of the Party.

    Whilst Party officials and universities pledged to study fully Xi's "thoughts", which are now contained in the Party’s constitution, all views not fully aligned with the supreme leader are being purged.

    According to Radio Free Asia, Yang Shaozheng, a professor with the Institute of Economics at Guizhou University, was told that his classes were cancelled.

    Prof Yang said he was told that it was "something he said," and that the order to terminate his classes had come from "higher up." In the past, he had studied the farm sector and the way it was taxed.

    Recently, he sent some articles to a retired publishing editor in Chongqing, deemed "sensitive material" by the police. “They told me ... that I had better keep my mouth shut and not make any kind of political statements."

    Beijing’s censorship seems to extend abroad as well. Charles Sturt University author and ethicist Professor Clive Hamilton said that publishers of one of his book pulled the plug on it due to Chinese pressure.

    This is “the first instance where a major Western publisher has decided to censor material of the Chinese Communist Party in its home country,” Hamilton said.

    Allen & Unwin described their decision not to publish his book, titled Silent Invasion: How China is Turning Australia into a Puppet State, as a "delay" based on legal advice.

    The book details the low-key and sometimes clandestine efforts of Chinese Communist Party agents within Australia's borders to influence public opinion.

    For China's ambassador to Australia, Cheng Jingye, allegations of interference are "groundless" and stirring up "China panic".

    Meanwhile, a few days after the Communist Party congress, Party and government officials hit the road to promote its “spirit” and Xi Jinping’s thoughts. The latter were enshrined in the constitution, and praise the “Chinese dream” of making the country a great power by 2050, provided that every aspect of life is under the guidance of the Communist Party.

    Several conferences have already taken place various provinces, including Heilongjiang and Jilin in northeastern China, Shanxi in northern China, Anhui and Fujian in eastern China, Yunnan in southwestern China, and Hainan in southern China.

    At the Party Congress, Xi had stated that the Party must strongly oppose actions that undermine its authority. That is why every criticism, however minimal, must be nipped in the bud.

    Like Allen & Unwin, the Cambridge University Press (CUP) in August censored more than 300 articles from the China Quarterly academic journal's China website at the request of media regulators in Beijing. CUP later reversed the decision under pressure from scholars.

    For many years, Xi Jinping and the Party have been afraid of ending up like the Soviet Union, which explains why every critical view of the Party’s history is censored.

    Indeed, “Why did the Soviet Communist Party collapse? An important reason was that their ideals and beliefs had been shaken,” Xi said in a speech he gave in Guangdong in 2012.

    “To dismiss the history of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Communist Party, to dismiss Lenin and Stalin, and to dismiss everything else is to engage in historic nihilism, and it confuses our thoughts and undermines the Party’s organisations on all levels.”

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