02/06/2020, 15.57
CHINA
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Xi Jinping absolves himself. But critics demand he leave

by Bernardo Cervellera

The Chinese president needs to introduce new laws to prevent and control epidemics and improve punishment. No self-criticism for the silence on the coronavirus and the delay in leadership decisions. Xu Zhangrun, former law professor at Qinghua University: the tyranny and suppression of civil society at the root of the spread of the virus. Xu Zhiyong: Xi has to step down because he is "unable to manage crises".

Rome (AsiaNews) - "The prevention and control of infection" requires "a commitment based on the law, which is scientific and orderly". Thus, Chinese President Xi Jinping said yesterday at a meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on governance.

According to Xinhua, Xi stressed that in China it is important to "improve legislation related to the prevention and control of epidemics, strengthen support for institutions and improve punishment procedures".

Xinhua does not quote any word from Xi about the crisis facing the country. The coronavirus epidemic that originated in Wuhan is now widespread in all regions of China and to date has killed over 560, with nearly 30 thousand infected. At least 51 million people are in forced or voluntary isolation; hundreds of millions of people are suffering the repercussions for the closure of the factories, for the fallout of the economy.

Xi has been silent for a long time and only after the virus emergency was declared on January 23 last did he have some words of support for the nation's "war" against the "demon" of the epidemic.

What is increasingly evident is that what has not weathered the crisis is the structure of Chinese society, in particular the information control system, which has delayed the public awareness of the seriousness of the epidemic for weeks while it spread throughout the country. The other major limits to a prompt response is the hierarchical and top-down structure of power that does not allow a mayor to take action without the approval of Beijing's central leadership.

In this sense, Xi's words yesterday are a great self-acquittal to confirm the party's dictatorship and control over information when the need for freedom of the press and the distribution of responsibilities with the criterion of subsidiarity is now plan for all to see.

After a certain silence, the big regime press returned to placing photos of the "heart of leadership" and the "Xi's corner" on the front page, where every word of the president, party secretary, director of the Central Military Commission, responsible for reforms, etc. is exalted. But here and there on the web there are criticisms that after a few hours are obscured and the authors arrested.

Xu Zhangrun, a law professor at Qinghua University, has published an article criticizing the leadership for failing to control the coronavirus epidemic. Xu - who for another article against Xi's lifetime presidency was suspended from teaching in 2018 - first accused this "tyranny" of destroying "the Chinese political system" that was heading for reforms after the death of Mao Zedong .

According to Xu, Beijing's crackdown on civil society and freedom of expression has made it impossible for people to respond immediately to the outbreak alarm. According to his friends, Xu - who already lives under surveillance - will soon be arrested.

Two days ago it was Xu Zhiyong's turn. He published an article on social media asking Xi to step down because he is "unable to handle crises" such as the trade war with the United States, Hong Kong protests and the coronavirus.

Xu Zhiyong is the founder of the New Citizens movement, a human rights lawyer, who has already suffered four years in prison for speaking in defense of democracy and against corruption of party members.

At present, Xu Zhiyong lives hidden and escapes the police, although he is very active on social media. At the beginning of the year, he posted a note criticizing xi Jinping's "new model of totalitarianism".

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