10/29/2019, 12.38
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Plenum of Chinese Communist Party Central Committee underway amid silence and tight surveillance

by Wang Zhicheng

Xinhua has not published a single line on the gathering. The neighbourhood where it is taking place has been isolated and traffic stopped. Dissidents and activists are under house arrest or strict surveillance.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – The Plenum of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, which opened yesterday at Beijing’s Jingxi hotel, is covered by a total media blackout. There is however an extensive police presence in the area where it is taking place, whilst known dissidents are being closely monitored.

Little is known of the four-day Plenum, which hasn’t met for 20 months, except that it is studying ways to improve the “socialist system with Chinese characteristics and the advancement of the national governance system and governance capability.”

After a day of meetings, state news agency Xinhua has not yet published a single line on their content and discussions.

To avoid any incident, the neighbourhood where the Jingxi Hotel is located has been cordoned off and closed to traffic (picture 2); the adjacent subway stops have been shut down and those who dare to walk by are searched (picture 3).

Many dissidents in the capital are under tight police watch, some banned from leaving their homes.

Journalist Gao Yu, activist Li Wei, dissident Hu Jia, human rights lawyer Bao Longjun, and Tiananmen massacre survivor Qi Zhiyong are all under house arrest or close surveillance, Radio Free Asia reported.

The Central Committee plenum comes at a very delicate moment for China, marked by a trade war with the US, the Hong Kong protests and poor performance of the economy.

Several Chinese observers and economists have long been calling for reforms to China’s economic system in favour of greater liberalisation. However, Xi Jinping, who is president and Party general secretary, seems concerned only with personal power and Party rule.

In February 2018 he managed to get himself designated president for life and reiterated that the Party must have control and governance over every aspect of society.

“I fear that the Communist Party will only modernise the use of technologies to better dominate and control the population,” said one observer in Beijing who requested anonymity, speaking to AsiaNews. “Unlike the rest of the world, it will not take any steps towards a modern society.”

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