China has muscled, conned, bullied, grabbed, extorted, and feigned its way to the top of the global supply chain over the last twenty years.

It took no prisoners—just market share, intellectual property, and liberties in the valuation of its currency. It used a massive trade surplus to buy foreign assets, coralled foreign companies into joint ventures with Chinese firms where they lost their technology to the Chinese partner, and gave away just enough to keep foreigners dreaming—in the spirit of their supposed trade regulations—of their fair share of the huge Chinese market.

With President Donald Trump hosting Chinese leader Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Floryda, today, many are waiting to see if this dynamic will be fought against. Trump talked tough on China throughout his campaign. Whereas previous administrations tried to engage and dialogue with China—an approach that business groups say has largely failed—this administration pledged to play hardball.

And for good reason, według a report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a Washington, D.C.-based non-partisan innovation think tank. “China has doubled down on its innovation-mercantilist strategies, seeking global dominance across a wide array of advanced industries that are key to U.S. economic and national security interests,” the report says.

For China, unlike the United States, growth is not the real issue. Raczej, growth and economic stability are only important in that they help the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) maintain its grip on the country.

Chinese citizens escaping poverty, and stronger international competition in tech sectors, are good things. But for the CCP, the prosperity of its people is a mere afterthought; the notion of fair trade a curiosity. Its gaze is fixed on its own survival, with all the rest being collaterals, incidentals, and extras.

To quote former United States Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky, Stany Zjednoczone. “has to rethink the way it engages with China. We have these very fancy dialogues—there’s ninety of them—and I characterize these dialogues with China as the way China manages the U.S., not actually the way the U.S. produces results on the ground for companies and for exporters to China.” Barshefsky spoke during a March 6 event at the Council on Foreign Relations w Nowym Jorku.

And so China has gorged on the markets with little in its way but some timid bilateral discussions, difficult-to-enforce World Trade Organization rules, and a Western alliance in disarray.

Is There a Sheriff in Town?

On both sides of the pro- and anti-trade spectrum, most experts seem to agree China can’t be left unchecked for another decade. It is now to be seen how the United States is going to play its role in the global trade community, while dealing with the rampage of often hostile Chinese investments in sensitive U.S. rynki, the towering trade imbalance, and the ongoing signs of currency manipulation (though China has shifted from undervaluing the RMB to propping it up.)

So far, no real effort has been made to stop Beijing on its looting spree, whether that be forcing technological transfer from Western companies that want market access, or straight up theft in the form of cyber espionage. Facing this reality, the patience of the United States in waiting for China to “learn to behave” has been baffling. W 2016 sam, 27 countries brought 119 trade sanctions against China. The previous U.S. administrations however, which saw China eat away at the U.S. market share across a myriad of sectors ever since China’s WTO ascension in 2001, remained mostly mute.

The March 16 report by ITIF points out the inherent weakness of WTO rules that have been negotiated between 160 kraje: if one player lacks the goodwill to respect the rules, little can be done to enforce them. The ITIF sees a larger role to be played by domestic legislatures when inking deals with China.

But while the tools to act against China’s “innovation mercantilism” might not have been perfect, both WTO provisions and domestic U.S. regulations have in fact been in place all along. The question remains why they have never been put to use.

Na przykład, citing concerns about surges of imports at the time of China’s WTO ascension, Barshefsky recalled that the U.S. “inserted a China-only provision which lasted twelve years … to allow the president to unilaterally stop imports in any given sector if those imports were disruptive to the U.S.” She added: “The relief was provided only once.”

Barshefsky made the point that “there was concern there would be job loss; there was a specific mechanism to deal with it. It wasn’t used.” The 12 year provision she referred to has recently expired, so new mechanisms will need to be worked out.

Her colleague Edward Aiden, a Bernard L. Schwartz senior fellow at the pro-trade foreign relations think tank CFR, on his side called the failing of previous administrations to trigger the 1988 Foreign Trade Act “a political disaster.” The Act stipulates that if a country is found to be manipulating its currency, intense negotiations are to be started, followed by sanctions if the negotiations fail.

This points to the bigger role the United States could play in global market regulation.

Under the banner of “Constructive, Alliance-backed Confrontation,” the ITIF argues that the United States, as the world’s biggest player, should gather its allies—such as Australia, Kanada, Niemcy, Unia Europejska, the United Kingdom, Japonia, and South Korea—and form a front against China.

It further calls for much stronger cooperation between the U.S. private and public sectors to fight abuses, a more “focused, targeted, centralized” approach by giving more control to the federal government, and more resources to the U.S. Trade Commission.

Of the Carrot and the Stick

Since the new administration took the reins, the first concrete signs of the course it would steer regarding trade was stepping out of the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TTP), a deal between 12 countries on both sides of the pacific.

China was implicitly excluded from the deal by technical means, and would have been at a disadvantage in region as a result. If it wanted in, it would have had to play by the rules and meet certain rigorous administrative, labor, environmental and other standards.

If China managed to get into the TTP, jednak, it would likely would have been another fiasco on par with China’s ascension into the WTO. If history teaches us anything, international trade deals for China are simply opportunities to take advantage and bend the rules.

Podobne Coverage

There are practical limitations on compliance monitoring and enforcement of such deals, and the Chinese regime is expert at navigating such loopholes. Stany Zjednoczone. Chamber of Commerce in a recent report on China’s industrial policy “Made in China 2025: Global Ambitions Built on Local Protections,” makes this extremely clear.

“Many of the challenges associated with China’s industrial policies—for example, government procurement, subsidies, data, licensing, and national security—would unlikely be effectively addressed through an investment treaty or agreement given the architectural limitations of such agreements.”

Now with the TTP carrot gone, it remains to be seen if the Trump administration is prepared to use the stick.

Whatever the case, Peter Navarro, economic advisor to the Trump administration, has not been mincing words so far when it comes to China. Taking the stage at a business conference, Navarro hinted at a much bolder stance toward China’s trade imbalance and currency manipulation.

Referring to China’s worrisome access to sensitive segments of the U.S. rynek, powiedział, “Suppose that it’s not a benign ally buying our companies, our technologies, our farmland, and our food supply chain, and ultimately controlling much of our defense industrial base. Raczej, it is a rapidly militarizing strategic rival intent on hegemony in Asia and of course world hegemony”.

If the United States can rally its partners behind a renewed, no-nonsense, results-based trade system that doesn’t rely on trusting China’s promises, Beijing’s brazenness may finally be contained, and stability returned to global trade.

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Gordon Chang was a bit early when he wrote the book “The Coming Collapse of China” in 2001.

He predicted the collapse of the Chinese economy and the downfall of the communist party within ten years and his prediction is four years overdue.

jednak, the core arguments he made in the book are more valid than ever as Chang continues to provide us with an uncensored behind-the-scenes view of the Chinese political economy.

Epoch Times spoke to Chang about a superficially stable China in 2017 and what is causing the real friction under the surface.

Epoch Times: China managed to stabilize its economy in 2016, will the regime be able to continue in 2017?

Gordon Chang: China looks strong but it’s actually weak. It has passed the point of no return.

They put in an enormous amount of debt, and they did stabilize the economy. The manufacturing sector is a beneficiary; we are starting to see some inflation. But the cost of this is enormous. It’s the old tactics of using debt to generate growth. It shows desperation more than anything.

There are some things that China should do regarding reform in 2017, but they won’t get it done because of the political imperative. This year we have a half a decade event, the party congress in the fall of this year, where they will either announce a new leader or Xi Jinping remains in control. That is a critical one.

I think they will be successful holding the line through the party congress. After that, they are going to fail.

So they are going to try and hold the line. Xi Jinping has relentlessly taken the economics portfolio from Li Keqiang. He gets the credit, but he also gets the blame. He is not going to want to see a major disruptive event between now and the party congress. It should be obvious, but a lot of people take this into account.

I think they will be successful holding the line through the party congress. After that, they are going to fail. They are going to prevent adjustments for as long as they have the ability to do so. Their ability to create jobs, holding the GDP growth close to 7, all of this stuff they are going to try and do.

Even if it was growing at the official rate, China is creating debt 5x faster than incremental GDP. Beijing can grow the economy with ghost cities and high-speed railways to nowhere but that’s not free, it’s not sustainable.

After the party congress, China is going to go into free fall.

The only thing that can change the Chinese economy is fundamental economic reform. But they are moving in a regressive manner, Beijing is stimulating again. It’s taking China away from a consumption economy, toward the state, away from private companies.

China is not going to have another 2008, it’s going to be a Chinese 1929.

The Chinese dream wants a strong state, and it’s not compatible with market reform. Even if Xi were up for liberalize and change, it would be too little too late. Stimulus is going to increase the underlying imbalances. That’s going to make it more difficult to adjust.

Epoch Times: What is happening beneath the superficial stability?

Pan. Chang: Look at what happened last year, capital outflows were probably higher than 2015. I 2015 was unprecedented, somewhere between $900 billion and a $1 trillion dollars.

The Chinese people see what other people have seen and it doesn’t make sense anymore. They see the economy is not growing. People are concerned about the political direction of the country, and people see the end is not that far away, so they move their money out.

People are also leaving. Young Chinese used to come to America to get an education; then they went back. Now Chinese kids get an education, they try to work for an investment bank, and they try to stay. Things are not as good at home as Beijing maintains.

To stop the capital outflows and maintain stability, they put in draconian capital controls starting in October, listopad 2016.

They put some real limitations on outbound investment for corporates and multinationals. They can do this, but how much longer? They are disincentivizing people to put money into China because they don’t know they can take it out again. In spite of the controls, they had record outflows. Capital outflows in the second half, when the controls started, were higher than in the first half.

They are going to continue to smooth things out after the Congress, but they won’t have the ability to continue the game. The whole thing is about confidence, and there is a failure of confidence in China.

Epoch Times: They are also using their foreign exchange reserves to manage the decline of the currency. The International Monetary Fund (MFW) for example says the $3 trillion they have is enough to run the economy.

Gordon Chang: They can just give you any number, and you don’t know whether it’s the right one, just like GDP. You cannot go to the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) and look through their books. They can report anything, and you don’t’ know. They have a high incentive to fake that number.

We also know they have a synthetic short position because they are selling derivatives through the state banks. If you look at the estimates of foreign exchange reserves each month, they always outperform the surveys. China always outperforms, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the FX number can’t be right. Misreporting their FX reserve declines minimizes the problems, so people keep believing in the currency.

They can report anything, and you don’t’ know. They have a high incentive to fake that number.

So I think they don’t have the $3 kwintylion. They have done the trick Brazil pulled in 2014 of selling derivatives instead of actual dollars. According to my sources, there’s $500 billion dollars still to be accounted for.

Then there are illiquid investments in the Chinese foreign exchange reserves, na około $1 kwintylion. According to my estimates, you are then down to $1.5 trillion in usable money to defend the currency. The FX reserves aren’t as big and as liquid as Beijing wants them to be.

Epoch Times: So they will have to devalue sooner or later.

Gordon Chang: I don’t think they are going to devalue before the 19th party congress later this year.

Then they are going to devalue, but not as far north of eight [current rate is 6.9 per dollar] as it needs to be. The insufficient devaluation will shake confidence; people think it’s not enough, it has to be more. Eventually, someone is going to figure out that their reserve numbers are wrong. But the one thing they need to defend their currency is foreign currency.

Xi Jinping says the Chinese dream is a strong China. So he is responsible for everything and depreciation never benefits the Chinese consumers. They continue to make stupid decisions. It’s the political system; the political imperative is too strong. It would be too embarrassing to do wholesale reform. He wants to appear strong. They have always tried to prevent natural economic adjustments—by doing that they have made the underlying imbalances bigger.

So in the end, China is not going to have another 2008, it’s going to be a Chinese 1929.

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Iowa Governor Terry Branstad (L) meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting in Beijing on April 15, 2013. Branstad has been selected by President-elect Donald Trump as U.S. ambassador to China. (ANDY WONG/AFP/Getty Images)Iowa Governor Terry Branstad (L) meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting in Beijing on April 15, 2013. Branstad has been selected by President-elect Donald Trump as U.S. ambassador to China. (ANDY WONG/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK—When Terry Branstad first met Xi Jinping in 1985, Branstad was governor of Iowa and Xi was an agricultural official in northern China. For two weeks, Xi stayed with a family in the town of Muscatine, an experience he fondly recalled when visiting Iowa and Gov. Branstad in 2012 as vice chairman of the Chinese regime.

Xi, now leader of China, will soon get to host Branstad in Beijing.

President-elect Donald Trump picked Branstad, 70, for the post of U.S. ambassador to China. The appointment of Branstad, a six-term governor who has maintained a cordial 30-year relationship with Xi, could prove pivotal for both the Trump and Xi administrations in the coming months.

Branstad and his wife Chris met Trump and his top advisers at Trump Tower in New York on the afternoon of Dec. 6.

“I’m really excited about the quality of people that he’s attracting to the Cabinet,” Branstad told reporters after an hour in Trump’s office. “I’m very proud to have supported Donald Trump for president.”

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang welcomed Branstad playing “a bigger role in advancing China–U.S. relations” when asked about the Iowa governor’s likely appointment in a regular press briefing on Dec. 7.

Branstad is an “old friend of the Chinese people,” Lu said. The feeling might be mutual: Branstad has led four trade missions to China in the past six years and maintains good relations with Xi, whom he called a “long-time friend” when Xi visited Iowa in February 2012.

Branstad is also a friend of Trump. He worked very actively on Trump’s behalf in the general election, and his son, Eric Branstad, managed Trump’s campaign in the state. Trump carried the state with 51 percent of the vote, versus 42 percent for Hillary Clinton.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad meets Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing on April 15, 2013. (Andy Wong-Pool/Getty Images)

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad meets Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing on April 15, 2013. (Andy Wong-Pool/Getty Images)

Trump’s selection of Branstad for the most important diplomatic position to China suggests that the president-elect is keen to keep negotiating channels open with Beijing, rather than adopt a wholly confrontational attitude as might be interpreted from his social media posts, his proposed trade policies, and his accepting a phone call from Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen.

Trump has accused the Chinese regime of currency manipulation via Twitter and stated in a policy paper that he has “zero tolerance” for the Chinese regime’s cybertheft of U.S. commercial secrets. During the election, Trump said he plans to impose tariffs on Chinese goods coming into the United States. Trump’s recent congratulatory telephone call from Tsai was a sensitive matter because Washington broke off diplomatic ties with Taiwan and instead acknowledged the People’s Republic of China in 1979.

Branstad could also help the Trump administration negotiate bilateral trade ties with China since it is a matter he is familiar with—in 2015, Iowa exported $2.3 billion in goods to China, według U.S.-China Business Council.

More importantly, Branstad, being Xi’s “old friend,” will likely gain the Chinese leader’s confidence and help the Trump administration better understand important political dynamics in China.

A Moment of Change

Branstad’s appointment comes at a moment of possibly significant change w Chinach.

Since taking power in 2012, Xi has been pushing a political transition in the Chinese regime. For 13 roku (1989–2002), Jiang Zemin was the leader of the Chinese Communist Party, and then for another 10 years he was the de facto ruler of China. Jiang was able to influence matters of the day through his allies in the Politburo Standing Committee, the regime’s most powerful decision-making body, and through his sprawling political faction.

Over the past four years, Xi has used an anti-corruption campaign to clear out Jiang’s faction and supporters. Many Chinese officials backed Jiang because he turned a blind eye to malfeasance and promised them wealth and high office if they participated in the persecution of Falun Gong. Pomiędzy 70 i 100 million Chinese had taken up the spiritual practice before Jiang began a campaign on July 20, 1999, to eradicate it.

Xi now appears to have the upper hand over the old guard of Jiang supporters, as indicated by Xi taking on the title of Communist Party “core” leader in October. Innymi słowy, Trump is dealing directly with a Chinese leader with actual influence, not a puppet of Jiang like Xi’s immediate predecessor Hu Jintao.

The Trump administration could also recognize how Xi is seeking to replace Jiang’s corruption and kleptocracy.

Xi frequently emphasizes the need for a disciplined, restrained officialdom and is also becoming more vocal in promoting the virtues of traditional Chinese culture.

In late 2013, Xi abolished the labor camp system, which held hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners at any one time. W tym roku, the Xi leadership made public gestures that suggest he is considering ending the persecution of Falun Gong, one of the worst abuses in modern Chinese history.

Chinese scholars also have been discussing recently the democratization of Russia under Mikhail Gorbachev and are studying the way authoritarian democracies function. It seems unlikely that Xi would delegate research of alternative systems of governance if he wasn’t at least considering his options.

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Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, Chiny, on Sept. 4, 2016. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, Chiny, on Sept. 4, 2016. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

China’s economy appears to be slowing down after years of booming growth. To revitalize the economy, the current Chinese leadership needs to get its priorities right in one particular area.

General secretary Xi Jinping formally assumed the title of Chinese Communist Party “core” leader at the regime’s recently-held Sixth Plenum in Beijing. This ascension, as well as his declaration that he would “strictly govern the Party,” indicates that Xi’s three-year campaign to purge the regime of the political faction of Jiang Zemin, a former communist leader, has thus far been successful. Xi’s ascension also indicates that the next stage of clearing out the Jiang group will very likely pick up pace.

Xi’s investigation and punishment of thousands of corrupt officials in the Jiang network since he assumed power is a positive measure both for the stability of Chinese society, and for China’s economic development. These corrupt officials harm the state and damage public welfare—in particular, many took hundreds of millions in state funds, filling their houses with gold, cash, paintings, and antiques. As the scope of the anti-corruption campaign extends across borders, international banks also refuse to touch such money.

To improve China’s economy, Xi Jinping should capture more of these corrupt officials, disgorge their wealth, and use it to benefit the people.

Arresting more corrupt officials affiliated with Jiang Zemin is one of the keys to solving the many problems plaguing the Chinese economy.

China’s Economic Dilemma

A healthy economy is key to the stability of a country and a regime—it’s the basis of a prospering society, and allows people to live in safety and comfort. Without it, social unrest is the result, and the people can’t eke out a living.

China’s economy is presently facing a severe crisis: Economic growth has plummeted, unemployment is on the rise, the financial and real estate bubbles continue to grow, local debt is at a crisis level, manufacturing is in trouble, and capital is leaving the country.

This state of affairs results from multiple factors.

After the Cultural Revolution ended in the 1970s, the Communist Party was forced to push through economic reforms simply to survive. Without any change in the political system, the loosening of economic constraints allowed the Chinese people to create the “miracle economy” that drew the world’s attention. China eventually became the second-largest economy in the world.

But after 30 years of rapid economic growth, China’s economic model—which came at the price of trampling human rights, ruining the environment, excessively depleting natural resources—is exhausted. Continued economic growth has already become the Party’s last hope for sustaining the legitimacy of its rule.

Xi Jinping’s leadership group has faced numerous economic problems since coming to power at the 18th Party Congress in 2012, but not all of them are because of the system. Many, w rzeczywistości, are due to power struggles at the top of the regime itself: thus, China’s financial and stock markets became battlegrounds for life-and-death political rivalries to play out on.

The group who found its power rapidly collapsing—Jiang Zemin and his faction—think nothing of using China’s economy as a bargaining chip. They’re content to cause a meltdown of the financial system, to unleash chaos if they need to, in an attempt to seize back power from Xi and avoid being held responsible for their crimes and punished. The stock market crash of June and July last year was a result of all this.

Jiang’s corrupt officials have themselves also directly dealt huge damage to the economy.

Jiang’s Corrupt Cronies

Officialdom in China has reached the point encapsulated by the phrase: “There’s not an official who’s not corrupt” (无官不贪). Almost every single official in Jiang Zemin’s camp is extremely corrupt—this has become clear in the records of those investigated, exposed, and punished since the 18th Party Congress.

Recently the former National People’s Congress top official Bai Enpai was charged with accepting bribes to the order of $36 milion; the former vice bureau chief of the department of coal in the National Energy Administration, Wei Pengyuan, took nearly $30 million in bribes and was given a death sentence with reprieve (with the result that he’ll spend the rest of his life behind bars); the former chair of Guangdong Province’s Party advisory congress, Zhu Mingguo, was charged with receipt of $20 milion; Zhou Yongkang with $19 milion; Jin Daoming with $17 milion; Wan Qingliang with $16 milion; Mao Xiaobing with $15 milion, and on.

Keep in mind that these are only the numbers that appear in official reports. The real sums are almost certainly far higher. If $17 million in paper cash can be hauled out of the home of Ma Chaoqun, a mere section-level official in Hebei Province, then higher-officials absconding with hundreds of billions of yuan is to be expected.

Jiang’s Corrupt System

After Jiang Zemin took power, the Communist Party entered an era lacking both an ideology or a limit to its conduct. Zamiast, Jiang established in the Party a new set of power relations: Let loose corruption, and join the conspiracy of power and profit.

The first crop of officials that came up under Jiang—like Li Changchun, Jia Qinglin, Chen Liangyu, Zeng Qinghong, Zhou Yongkang, and others—almost to a man had their start in smuggling, colluding with businessmen, and expropriating land in making their first fortune.

Before long, both petty and powerful officials who liked to use their public position for personal gain began gathering under Jiang’s banner. During the Jiang era, corruption became the way to get ahead, and clean officials were the ones to be cleaned out.

The case of Huang Jinguo, the head of the Party Committee of Lianjiang County in Fujian Province, is an example.

Beginning in the late 1990s, Huang sought to investigate a major network of corruption in his own jurisdiction. He was simultaneously pressured from the top and the bottom: Higher-ups told him to lay off, while thugs and triads issued threats. Huang wore a bulletproof vest to work for six years. Helpless, on Aug. 11, 2004, he submitted his story to People’s Daily, calling it: “Why A Bulletproof Vest Has Followed me For Six Years.” In the end, Huang was arrested a year later and sentenced to life imprisonment on framed-up charges.

Jiang Zemin ruled the country through corruption, setting up his own network of officials throughout the Party, political security, wojskowy, and other bureaucratic systems. His eldest son, Jiang Mianheng, became known as “China’s most corrupt.”

The culture of corruption in China that Jiang established metastasized through the military, the judiciary, the health care system, the education system, the sports system, the media, state-owned enterprises, and more. Official positions were bought and sold, bribes were paid and received, collusive abuse between officials and businessmen spread through the country.

The lifeline of the Chinese economy was in the hands of interest groups that had coalesced around Jiang’s rule, including the petrochemical industry, telecommunications, the state-owned railway empire, the financial system, and state enterprises in fields like finance that offer the fattest rents. All these fields had installed in them either members of the extended Jiang family and clan, or confidants, aids, subordinates, and associates. These include Jiang Mianheng, Zeng Qinghong, Zhou Yongkang, Xu Caihou, Liu Yunshan, and others.

Zhou Yongkang and his family accumulated real estate and cash to the tune of over $14 miliard, while Zeng Qinghong’s wealth exceeded $1.4 miliard. The families of Xu Caihou and Liu Yunshan also hold wealth in excess of a billion dollars.

In recent years the phenomenon of “naked officials” has become extreme. “Naked official” is a term that describes corrupt officials who first send their spouse and children abroad with the stolen assets while they bide their time for the best opportunity to make their own escape. These officials often get their money out through cash smuggling, underground money shops, or large-scale investment projects. Official statistics indicate that at least 20,000 officials have fled China in this manner, depriving the country of between $116 billion and $217 miliard.

If the entire asset base of the corrupt network that grew around Jiang Zemin’s reign could be calculated completely, it’s likely that it would exceed China’s annual expenditures in national defense, healthcare, and education.

How Jiang Harmed China

The system of official theft and corruption created by Jiang came about at a time when China was going through large-scale privatization and economic transformation. A zatem, the entire backdrop of economic reform turned into the best opportunity, excuse, and method of concealment for theft with abandon. State assets were, through all manner of mechanisms, privatized into the control of corrupt officials and special interest groups.

In the end, this widespread theft meant that China lost the opportunity to turn into something resembling a normal country via the reform process, and the economic and social foundations that enable order were undermined. A large part of the fruits of 20 years of economic reform in China was plundered by Jiang’s corrupt interest groups.

The corruption during this period wasn’t limited to officialdom—the culture of lawlessness penetrated every level of society. As the moral turpitude of the ruling class became clear, any notion of fairness became increasingly remote for most Chinese people.

Economics and morality are interdependent. Methods of economic development that arise from a broken moral outlook will inevitably result in embezzlement, korupcja, plunder, an every-man-for-himself mentality, and the ruination of the public good.

The uniquely nasty aspect of Jiang Zemin’s rule is the extent to which he dared to destroy and degrade human morality and conscience, which is the foundation of any society and well-functioning economic and political system.

Without humanity, morality, and good faith, society collapses and decays—challenging and attacking morality as Jiang did was an attempt to destroy hope for a new China. It also amounts to the Communist Party digging its own grave. This much is clear from an examination of the fallen officials in Jiang’s network.

Taking an inventory of these officials—including Bo Xilai, Zhou Yongkang, Su Rong, Xu Caihou, Guo Boxiong, and others—they were, to a man, committed to Jiang Zemin’s persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual practice.

Cleaning out the Jiang Faction Will Help Revitalize the Economy

Thoroughly purging officials that stole vast wealth during the Jiang era will have the effect of reinvigorating the Chinese economy.

po pierwsze, given the scale of wealth that they stole, their confiscation and reinvestment in the livelihood of the people is bound to improve things.

Secondly, purging all those officials will have the effect of restoring proper economic order and the trust of the people in the future of China.

Thirdly, breaking the corrupt official network established by Jiang, and rebuilding a normally-operating system of governance, would allow China to return to a positive growth trajectory and move toward the future smoothly.

Fourthly, these corrupt officials are the foundation of Jiang Zemin’s faction. So clearing them out, before ultimately arresting Jiang Zemin, would mean the complete end of the Jiang faction.

From a deeper perspective, one of the objectives Jiang had when fostering this enormous system of corruption, was in order to bind officials throughout the Party to his campaign of persecuting Falun Gong—making them both beneficiaries from the campaign and participants in it. This is one of the most sinister aspects of his rule.

History has shown that the persecution of righteous faith is met with the punishment of Heaven. The collapse of the Roman Empire illustrates this.

China today is paying the price of Jiang’s persecution of Falun Gong. jednak, there’s hope for China’s future if the persecution is ended, the victimized are exonerated, and justice is re-established. Purging Jiang’s system of corruption is a way to uphold righteousness, manifest Heaven’s principles, and bring boundless blessings.

Peaceful Transition

Premodern Chinese history tells us that a change of dynasty is at hand when a large number of officials in a regime are corrupt, and when the economy and the country’s power is on the wane. Jiang and the Communist Party have forfeited the last vestige of legitimacy of the Party, and the Party is about to overthrow itself.

W międzyczasie, the range of measures and actions that Xi Jinping has taken since coming to office suggests that he doesn’t have the blood of the persecution of Falun Gong on his hands. Xi is also distancing himself from the Party’s historical crimes.

Xi thus has no need to bear the blood debt of the Party and Jiang Zemin, and his abandoning the Party is an inevitability that accords with the will of history.

China will then make a peaceful transition to a non-communist society, and the Chinese nation and people, who have suffered decades of calamity, will create new glories in the future.

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Xin Ziling in an undated photograph. (Apollo Net)Xin Ziling in an undated photograph. (Apollo Net)

Xi Jinping is widely misunderstood by the media and intellectuals because they don’t understand the power dynamics inside the Chinese communist regime today, according to maverick retired defense official Xin Ziling.

Born Song Ke in the province of Hebei in northern China, Xin joined the People’s Liberation Army in 1950 w wieku 15. Xin eventually made director of China National Defense Univer­sity, the country’s top higher education institute for defense official.

Dzisiaj, Xin is best known as a fiery critic of the regime who isn’t afraid to broach sensitive topics—he is the author of a highly critical book on former Chinese dictator Mao Zedong; he has spoken out against former Party leader Jiang Zemin’s persecution of Falun Gong, a traditional Chinese spiritual practice; and joined other scholars and journalists in calling for the regime to end censorship.

Recently, Xin Ziling was interviewed by the Chinese language edition of Voice of America as part of a series on the Communist Party’s 6th Plenum. Though the interview took place before the recently-concluded meeting, its identification of the faultlines in elite Party politics remains highly relevant. We’ve translated the interview, and edited it for brevity and clarity.


Question: What are your thoughts about the 6th Plenum?

Xin Ziling: This meeting concerns the infighting in the Chinese Communist Party. Xi Jinping is heading a group of reformists, and they are being opposed by a faction led by Jiang Zemin.

The 6th Plenum will bring a general resolution to this struggle, and there must be complete resolution in the lead up to the Communist Party’s 19th National Congress; otherwise, the 19th Congress can’t be held. Na przykład, if Jiang is still allowed some say in matters of the day, he could pick another three Politburo Standing Committee members [serving Standing Committee members Liu Yunshan, Zhang Dejiang, and Zhang Gaoli are known allies of Jiang]. How is that acceptable? What will become of China then? I also believe that [Xi Jinping] will conclusively resolve organizational issues at the 6th Plenum.

Now the whole Party has essentially endorsed Xi Jinping assuming the title of “core” leader. Innymi słowy, Jiang Zemin’s position as the Party’s “core” is on the wane; previously, Jiang still had influence, but now many cadres are much clearer on the overall situation. I recently read that the leaders of 28 provinces were replaced within a span of nine months. If a cadre refuses to change his political mindset and stance, he will be replaced and dealt with by the Party organization.

I’m optimistic about the prospects. By that I mean that Xi Jinping will be victorious, the reformists will be victorious, and the Chinese people will be triumphant. China cannot possibly progress without the purging of corrupt officials—those big tigers, medium tigers, and old tigers. [“Tiger” is Party parlance for corrupt high-ranking officials.]

It’s also impossible for progress to be made on political reform and issues such as the Tiananmen Square Massacre and the political rehabilitation of Falun Gong if Jiang Zemin isn’t removed. With rows of big tigers obstructing the way, there’s no way to resolve these issues. The conditions and timing must be right for a comprehensive resolution to be reached, and its possible that something will come of the 6th Plenum that will jolt the people and the Party.

Q: Do you that think that Xi Jinping might resolve the issues of Tiananmen and Falun Gong when he becomes “core” leader?

Xin: It’s not a question of probability; Xi Jinping will definitely resolve these issues. Falun Gong practitioners can and have filed criminal complaints against Jiang Zemin with the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate … these judicial organs have already accepted these complaints. Falun Gong and Tiananmen must be resolved. Xi Jinping cannot carry this burden going forward; he is crystal clear on this matter.

Q: Human rights lawyers have been arrested, petitioners have been suppressed, freedom of speech is being restricted, and many people have been prosecuted for comments they’ve made on the internet. Could these incidents have happened if Xi Jinping didn’t give a nod?

Xin: Let me make a clarification. There are currently two power centers in the Chinese Communist Party. And Xi Jinping doesn’t have complete power before the 6th Plenum.

Take the political and legal apparatus, for example. In theory, after Zhou Yongkang was purged, Xi ought to have regained control over the apparatus. In reality, jednak, the apparatus’ direction can be influenced in countless ways; many officials are still carrying out Zhou Yongkang’s policies, whether knowingly or unknowingly.

Recently there was a man named Wang Zhiwen [the former Falun Gong coordinator in Beijing] who was prevented from leaving the country in Guangzhou. Xi Jinping is definitely not behind this. Because the people who blocked Wang still have some power.

Nowadays, who does the common folk blame when they are unhappy about something? They blame the top leader, and say that it’s Xi Jinping’s doing even when it’s not his idea. This situation arises from slandering and the so-called “advanced blackening” [gaojihei in Chinese].

Those old tigers and big tigers from the Jiang faction face the fate of being purged. So they think: If I’m a goner, then I’m going to bring you down, także. They then try to sabotage Xi, and damage his political reputation. But Xi is not behind many incidents; the shutting down of Yanhuang Chunqiu [a reformist publication ran by mostly elderly Party cadres] was the handiwork of Liu Yunshan [the propaganda and ideology chief].

Right now Xi Jinping cannot abandon his plans at the 6th Plenum or his overall objectives to deal with the specific problems caused by the Jiang faction. As the highest-ranking leader, Xi needs to deal with all these problems comprehensively in terms of strategy, direction, and policy. He needs to get all cadres to implement the Party Central’s policies; having the top leader rectify all problems caused by noncompliant cadres is impossible.

Given the circumstances, many people, including the media and the intelligentsia, have a lot of misunderstandings about Xi Jinping. They see increased restrictions on the media, and people getting arrested. But if Xi isn’t aware of a lot of things until they take place, what is he to do?

Q: Isn’t Xi Jinping aware that his reputation and credibility are damaged when these things happen?

Xin: Of course he is aware. And that is what drives him to resolve all these issues once and for all at the 6th Plenum! If Xi doesn’t take action, what he ultimately faces is Chinese officials dragging their feet, or even performing the opposite of what he wants. Some officials might think: You don’t allow me to take bribes, that’s fine. I will not do any work, and bring the entire government administration to a halt. Then the people will blame Xi Jinping.

The organizational issue can be resolved through the appointing of new officials and wiping the slate at the 19th Congress. Jiang Zemin has build up his factional networks in the Party for over two decades, and the roots he has sunk are intertwining and very deep. This is not an easy issue to resolve, but Xi won’t be able to push through his policies without fixing this issue. Then the case of orders not leaving Zhongnanhai [the officials headquarters of the Party leadership in Beijing] will persist.

Q: For several months, there have been many changes in the ranks of the top provincial leadership. Do you believe that Xi Jinping is responsible for the reshuffling?

Xin: Certainly. Teraz, many provincial-level cadres are Xi’s appointments. These personnel changes were made to prevent a political coup from taking place during the 6th Plenum and the 19th Congress. That’s also the reasoning behind the reshuffling of top leaders in 28 provinces in 9 miesiące.

Q: After the recent military reforms, does Xi Jinping have complete control over the military?

Xin: You could say that. Military reform is a massive operation; frankly, Mao Zedong didn’t dare to do it, and neither did Deng Xiaoping. What Xi has done is unprecedented, but then again he was forced into it. Guo Boxiong i Xu Caihou [two disgraced former military vice chairs] had Hu Jintao under their thumb for a decade; everyone in the military was loyal to them. If this issue isn’t resolved at a fundamental level, it’s impossible to gain control over the military.

In fact, Xi forcibly wrestled back control of the military, and the struggle continues to escalate. Recently, byli many personnel changes in the military; this was done to clean out the remaining influence of Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong. Why is this necessary? Because many of Xu and Guo’s subordinates are still in office, and whose side they are on is still unclear. jednak, the overall situation has been settled, and Xi Jinping is firmly in control of the military. Without controlling the military, there can be no way for Xi to counterattack in this ongoing struggle. So it is reasonable for Xi to have started with military reform, and to purge Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong.

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Zhang Gaoli attends the news conference after the closing session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People on March 17, 2013 w Pekinie, Chiny.  (Feng Li / Getty Images)Zhang Gaoli attends the news conference after the closing session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People on March 17, 2013 w Pekinie, Chiny.  (Feng Li / Getty Images)

Xi Jinping is the leader of the Chinese Communist Party, but he doesn’t have complete control over the regime. Raczej, former Party chief Jiang Zemin continues to influence matters of the day through his factional allies in key leadership positions, as well as through a vast political network.

W tym roku, the overseas Chinese press speculated that Xi is looking to dismantle the Politburo Standing Committee—the highest decision-making body in the regime, and a key political tool Jiang has used to impose his will or check ruling Party leaders.

The recent purge of top Tianjin official Yin Hailin and other members of the so-called “Tianjin gang” appears to be a move by Xi Jinping to implicate Standing Committee member and former Tianjin chief Zhang Gaoli.

Targeting Zhang would afford Xi an excuse to discredit the existing structure of collective leadership at the top, and break free from Jiang Zemin’s control.

Abolishing the Politburo Standing Committee?

Of the seven members in the Standing Committee, vice premier Zhang Gaoli, propaganda chief Liu Yunshan, and Chinese legislature head Zhang Dejiang are known allies of Jiang Zemin.

The two Zhangs and Liu have interfered with the rule of Xi Jinping.

Zhang Gaoli is linked with a massive chemical warehouse blast in Tianjin in 2015.

Zhang Dejiang, who also oversees the affairs of semi-autonomous Hong Kong and Macau, turned Hongkongers against Beijing by denying promised democratic reforms.

W międzyczasie, Liu Yunshan is believed to be behind the efforts of state media and “nationalistic” bloggers’ casting Xi as a Mao-like figure.

Overseas Chinese media reported this year that Xi is dissatisfied with the Standing Committee system, and is considering dismantling it and adopting a presidential system. Indeed, Xi is already governing through several small but powerful policy panels, a sign that he is dissatisfied with the status quo.

Before Jiang Zemin stepped down as Party leader in 2002, he increased the number of Standing Committee members from seven to nine, and stacked the body with his allies. Each Standing Committee member ran his portfolio independently, resulting in a state of governance that one Chinese scholar described as feudal.

When Xi Jinping came to power during the 18th Party National Congress, the nine-member Standing Committee returned to a seven-member body.

The fall of Yin Haili

On August 22, the official website of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) announced that Tianjin’s deputy mayor Yin Hailin was being investigated for “serious violations of discipline.”

From January 2000 until very recently, Yin, 56, served as the deputy director of the Tianjin Urban and Rural Planning and Design Institute. He was later appointed deputy director of the Tianjin Planning and Land Resources Bureau, and then promoted to director in December 2007. In May 2012, Yin was made Tianjin deputy mayor, Tianjin Political and Legal Affairs Commission deputy secretary, as well as Tianjin Municipal Planning Bureau director.

Yin’s swift rise up the political ladder coincided with Politburo Standing Committee member Zhang Gaoli’s tenure as Tianjin Party Secretary from March 2007 to November 2012.

The Yin Haili-led Tianjin Municipal Planning Bureau appeared to be involved in the real estate corruption case of property developer Zhao Jin in 2014, as well as the massive explosions near the port of Tianjin on Aug. 2015. After the two high-profile incidents, there were rumors of shakeups at the Municipal Planning Bureau of Tianjin.

Indeed, after the announce of Yin’s arrest, a Tianjin official told semi-official press Beijing News that Yin’s demise has been speculated for quite a while, and he was linked with the Zhao Jin corruption case.

Zhao, the son of the Jiangsu Provincial Party Committee secretary-general, had leveraged on his father’s political post and connections to build a huge real estate empire. He was arrested by the authorities on June 2014, while Zhao Senior was taken away four months later. After that, officials in Tianjin’s Municipal Planning Bureau were purged one after the other.

The Tianjin Gang

Compared to his serving in Tianjin’s planning authorities for over 30 roku, Yin Hailin tenure in Tianjin municipality and law and security apparatus has attracted far less attention.

Several officials in Tianjin’s political and legal system have committed appalling abuses of power.

Na przykład, Li Baojin, former deputy secretary of Tianjin’s Political and Legal Affairs Commission and head of the municipality’s prosecuting body, was detained and interrogated on June 12, 2006. The following year, Li was handed a death sentence with reprieve for taking bribes and embezzling public funds.

W czerwcu 4, 2007, Song Pingshun, the chairman of Tianjin’s Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, committed suicide in his office. Song, 62, had controlled Tianjin’s political and legal system for many years, and was Li Baojin’s long-time superior.

Później, Wu Changshun, then chief of the Tianjin Municipal Public Security Bureau, was placed under investigation. But the investigation into Wu was called off by Zhou Yongkang, then Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission deputy secretary, on the condition that Wu would oversee security for the Beijing Summer Olympics, according to respected Chinese financial publication Caixin.

Wu was eventually promoted to deputy head of the Tianjin Political and Legal Affairs Commission and vice chair of the Tianjin political consultative body. He held this positions until his arrest in July 2014.

Unlike Song, Li, and Wu, Yin Hailin did not make his career in the public security system. But Yin eventually succeeded Wu Changshun nonetheless. Like Wu, Yin also had secret dealings with other powerful individuals.

Why the Tianjin Gang is Now in Trouble

The purge of deputies in Tianjin’s security and law apparatus can be traced back to the Chinese regime’s persecution of the spiritual discipline Falun Gong 17 Lata temu.

W kwietniu 25, 1999 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners gathered in Beijing and stood quietly outside Zhongnanhai to petition the authorities to release several practitioners who had been detained by Tianjin police.

The issue was resolved in a matter of hours after Falun Gong representatives spoke with Zhu Rongji, then Chinese premier. jednak, then Chinese leader Jiang Zemin seized the April 25 petition as a pretext to launch a large-scale suppression of Falun Gong.

At the time of the April 25 incident, Song Pingshun was Party Secretary of Tianjin’s Political and Legal Affairs Commission, and head of Tianjin’s Public Security Bureau. Wu Changshun was deputy director of the Public Security Bureau, and Li Baojin was head of Tianjin’s prosecuting body.

Song, Wu, Li, as well as former Central Political and Legal Affairs Party Secretaries Luo Gan and Zhou Yongkang, all have a hand in executing Jiang’s persecution campaign.

Incidentally, a distinct pattern has emerged in Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign: Many officials that have been investigated for corruption are also known to have persecuted Falun Gong.

The Yin Hailin-Zhang Gaoli connection

During Yin Hailin’s term as boss of Tianjin city planning officials, three of Tianjin’s districts— Tanggu, Hangu, and Dagang—were consolidated into a new area called Binhai. Yin is allegedly involved in the planning and construction of this Binhai New Area.

According to reports in overseas Chinese media, former Tianjin boss Zhang Gaoli made the development and opening up of the Binhai New Area one of his priorities.

Binhai New Area has numerous unfinished projects. A total of 60 mld juanów (about US$9 billion) was invested in Xiangluowan Business District, one of the 6 functional districts in Binhai New Area’s central business district. But Chinese media describe Xiangluowan today as a “ghost town.”

The development company Binhai New Area Construction Investment Group incurred a huge amount of debt. Liu Huiwen, former chairman of Tianjin TEDA Investment Holding Co. Ograniczony, committed suicide in April 2014.

W 2014, the Party’s internal disciplinary agency sent inspection teams to Tianjin. W lipcu 9, the inspection teams told the Tianjin Municipal government that state owned enterprises in Tianjin were frequently involved in “major graft and bribery cases,” and there was “major corruption issues in the urban development and construction sector.”

According to some media reports, anti-corruption chief Wang Qishan ordered the Tianjin authorities to preserve the complete records of minutes taken at meetings of the province’s leadership since 2007. Wang also requested to view the original documents for government development projects, and insisted that “no one should tamper” with the paperwork.

Zhang Gaoli is said to be involved in private venture and equity fund cases worth hundreds of billions of yuan.

When Zhang took over Tianjin in 2007, he promoted all types of venture capital and private equity funds. But from early 2010 do 2012, the Tianjin authorities suddenly investigated and closed down these firms, affecting hundreds of thousands of families who invested in them.

Many of those affected journeyed to Tianjin to petition and lodge complaints. Some of the protesters were heard shouting “Zhang Gaoli, return our money!”

Tianjin explosions

sie. 12, 2015, a series of catastrophic explosions rocked Tianjin when a chemical warehouse in Binhai New Area blew up.

Binhai New Area is Zhang Gaoli’s biggest achievement in Tianjin. Ruihai International Logistics, the company that owned the warehouse where the explosions occurred, was allegedly controlled by the relatives of Zhang.

A day after the explosions, an overseas website claimed in an article that the Tianjin explosion was the work of terrorists. “Conspiracy theories” the article wrote, suggest that “the Tianjin explosions are surely the by-product of a power struggle inside the Chinese Communist Party. A rogue side created the human tragedy, and this group’s purpose is to threaten, intimidate, and force a crisis that would lead to an impeachment of Xi Jinping”. This claim hasn’t been verified.

W międzyczasie, an Aug. 23 report by Hong Kong tabloid Apple Daily, citing sources in Beijing, claimed that Xi Jinping held a meeting of the Politburo Standing Committee on the night of the Tianjin explosion.

Some analysts believe that Jiang Zemin used the Tianjin explosions to bargain with Xi Jinping. Xi had reportedly detained Jiang temporarily in response.

To this day, the inside story of the Tianjin explosions hasn’t been completely revealed. The connection between Yin Hailin’s downfall and the rumors about Zhang Gaoli adds additional mystery to the explosion.

This February, the Chinese regime’s State Council approved the investigation of the explosions in Tianjin.

Translated By SQ Wu, Susan Wang, & Benjamin Ng. Edited by Sally Appert.

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A rural woman cooks with a biogas stove in the outskirts of Kunming, in the China's southwestern Yunnan province on Nov. 4, 2009. (Liu Jin/AFP/Getty Images)A rural woman cooks with a biogas stove in the outskirts of Kunming, in the China's southwestern Yunnan province on Nov. 4, 2009. (Liu Jin/AFP/Getty Images)

Last October at a forum in Beijing, Chinese Chairman Xi Jinping pledged by 2020 to lift out of poverty the poorest of Chinese—the 70 million who make less than $1 a day.

Nearly a year later, the ambitious plan been fraught with setbacks. Many of the Communist Party officials initially assigned to provinces in the greatest need of assistance have been found to be either corrupt or incompetently lazy.

In an Aug. 16 raport, the state-run China Youth Daily made an example of Yunnan, a province far to the southwest and on the front line of Xi’s fight against poverty.

Here, almost 40,000 Party officials were assigned to their tasks and were supposed to render aid to 4.7 million people in over 4,000 “poverty villages.” But starting in April, the Yunnan authorities have issued removal orders for 1,117 of the functionaries. Among the reasons are “not putting their hearts in the work,” or “talking the talk without walking the walk,” China Youth Daily powiedziany.

Common complaints (and grounds for removal) included unexpected absences from work and spending less than 50 days at work during a whole season. Officials removed from their assignments were punished by being barred from promotions or subject to further education and training. In other cases they were simply sacked.

While the state-run Xinhua news agency has reported the exploits of model officials taking a hands-on role in supporting locals in their daily lives—an example being officials in the Chongqing municipality who helped villagers raise goats or farm walnut trees, Xi Jinping’s continuing anti-corruption campaign has painted a less flattering portrait of China’s officialdom. Some suspects were caught with golden statues of Chairman Mao, boxes full of bribery money, and truckloads of riches.

sie. 8, the Party’s anti-corruption authority reported that Luyi Sifu, a former village Party secretary in the northwestern province of Qinghai, transferred 1.5 mln juanów (o $226,000) in government-issued food subsidies to his own account. Luyi has since been expelled from the Party.

Two days earlier, on Aug. 6, 2016, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) reported that in the first six months of this year, 182 Party officials in China’s southern province of Guangdong received disciplinary punishment and 7 others were prosecuted for work-related problems related to their anti-poverty duties.

In another report this March, CCDI offered two hotlines for people in the central Chinese province of Gansu, to report corruption in the poverty-assistance effort in the province.

On the comment section of Chinese news portal Sina, many netizens expressed doubt that the poor would be the ones benefiting from the regime’s anti-poverty campaign.

“In Chinese villages, those who are really poor never get the chance to submit their names to the authorities [to receive aid],” a netizen from Zhejiang Province wrote. “Thugs and family members of village Party officials got the chance—they were the ‘poor’ who got helped.”

“This shows that the policy of ‘stationing officials in villages’ is not the way to go. It has become a superficial task,” says a comment from Xinjiang in western China. “Officials use the village position as an opportunity to get promoted.”

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Sales representatives at a decoration in Chongqing, Chiny, eat raw bitter melon on stage as a punishment for their poor performance on July 16, 2016. (via Sina)Sales representatives at a decoration in Chongqing, Chiny, eat raw bitter melon on stage as a punishment for their poor performance on July 16, 2016. (via Sina)

The director of a Chinese decoration company has decided the best way to encourage his poor-performing sales representatives is public humiliation—putting them on stage and eating raw kugua, the famed Chinese bitter melon, in front of other employees.

“It was my first time eating bitter melon raw,” said Tang Shuju who added that he nearly threw up after having the first bite. “But the rule is that if you throw up, you have to eat another one.”

“I belched while I was eating it,” said another employee who managed to down the vegetable with the help of some water. “But I put up with having it in my mouth. I was afraid to be punished and made to have a second one if I puked.”

The incident took place Chongqing in southwest China, Podawane Chinese news portal Sina on July 19. It is the latest in a trend of negative reinforcement that are intended, somehow, to encourage success.

Salesmen in their underwear run through the streets of Foshan. (via Yangcheng Evening News)

Company director Mr. Shi said he came up with the bitter melon punishment because the company’s business took a dive because his 100 sales staff had shown a dip in performance in the hot summer temperature. A total of 40 employees who failed to meet their weekly quotas were treated to the melon, Shi told Sina.

“You either eat bills [money], or you eat bitter melon. Everyone loves bills and nobody wants to eat bitter melon. If you don’t want to suffer, you work harder,” said Mr. Shi, who claims that the punishment has caused a threefold jump in sales.

Netizens commenting on Sina Weibo, China’s popular microblogging site, aren’t so keen about the measures taken. One comment from Liaoning Province reads: “how messed up, isn’t it enough just to deduct from their bonus?”

“There are no human rights in Chinese companies,” a comment from Jiangsu Province says. “A worker’s dignity is as worthless as dust.”

Public humiliation is far from new in China. During the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s, intellectuals and officials were criticized and often physically attacked, sometimes fatally, in rallies known as “struggle sessions.” Current Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s father Xi Zhongxun became the subject of one of these sessions after he was labeled an “anti-party element.”

W ostatnich latach, humilation has been revived for capitalist pursuits. W czerwcu, za wideo went viral online after an agricultural bank in Shanxi Province hired a consulting coach to publically spank employees who performed unsatisfactorily in a training session.

Other companies have taken punishments outdoors. W lipcu 2013, male sales representatives of a gym in Foshan, a city in the southern province of Guangdong, were forced to run through the streets dressed only in their underwear while shouting “Complete the mission,” the state-run Yangcheng Evening News reported.

Saleswomen in Chongqing crawl on the ground as punishment for their poor performance. (via People’s Net)

The run became a daily slog for some salesmen who couldn’t hit their previous day’s targets. This was only one of multiple possible punishments, including the consumption of raw bitter melon, compulsory begging on the streets, or having their heads shaved.

Female employees are not immune to penal humiliation, either. In May 2013, saleswomen at a cosmetics company in Chongqing were made to crawl in their red uniforms and high heels through the city’s busy business district while shouting “we can make it!” reported People’s Net, the online edition of state mouthpiece People’s Daily. A male colleague led the procession while waving a red flag.

Workers grovel while shouting gratitude for their employers in Shenyang. (via Guncha)

Humiliation isn’t only for punishment. In September 2015, the owner of a hot pot restaurant in Shenyang, capital of Liaoning Province in the northeast, decided that being grateful was corporate culture. In a public stunt reported by the Shanghai-based website Guncha, his employees were ordered to get on their knees and kowtow to the restaurant’s executives, while shouting their gratitude for letting them work for him.

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Deng Xiaoping's son (L) Deng Pufang talks to general Tian Xiusi at Great Hall of the People on Nov. 8, 2012. Tian has recently been placed under investigation for violation of Party discipline. (Goh Chai Hin/AFP/Getty Images)Deng Xiaoping's son (L) Deng Pufang talks to general Tian Xiusi at Great Hall of the People on Nov. 8, 2012. Tian has recently been placed under investigation for violation of Party discipline. (Goh Chai Hin/AFP/Getty Images)

Tian Xiusi, the former political chief of the Chinese Communist Party’s airforce, enjoyed a series of connections to elite political figures that allowed his career to prosper. His only problem was, they were the wrong figures.

With a July 9 announcement that he was under investigation, Tian is the latest retired military official to be purged for his association with a political faction that has opposed Party leader Xi Jinping.

Tian, 66, will now been handed to the People’s Liberation Army’s internal disciplinary unit on suspicion of corruption, according state mouthpiece Xinhua. His wife and secretary were also taken away, according to Beijing Daily, a semi-official Chinese publication.

Tian’s most recent occupation, after his retirement from the military last August, was deputy director of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress, the regime’s faux legislature.

Tian is one of the highest ranking former Chinese military officers to be investigated for corruption since Xi Jinping took office in 2013. Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou, both former vice chairs of the Central Military Commission, and patrons of Tian, have also been probed and purged.

Before taking on his civilian post in the regime’s legislature, Tian was a career military man. He had spent over 40 years in the Lanzhou Military Region in west China before being made political commissar of the neighboring Chengdu Military Region in 2009. (The Lanzhou Military Region and Chengdu Military Region have since been modified in a recent military reform.)

Then in October 2012, Tian was promoted to political commissar of the People’s Liberation Army’s air force—an unusual appointment at the time because Tian only had experience commanding ground troops.

It appears that Tian had secured his promotions through bribery, according to a recently published book by a former official who worked in a department linked with the old Lanzhou Military Region.

Chen Xi, the author of “The Autobiography of Guo Boxiong,” wrote that Tian had paid former military vice chair Guo Boxiong 50 mln juanów (o $7.5 milion) w 2012 to be the air force’s political commissar, według Radio France International. Tian had also bribed Xu Caihou, the other military vice chair, to get the Chengdu job. Both Guo and Xu oversaw all promotions and appointments in the Chinese military during their tenure as vice chairs of the military.

Guo has been expelled from the Party for corruption in July 2015, and is currently awaiting trial. Xu passed away from bladder cancer in March 2015, but otherwise would almost certainly have been prosecuted.

Tian Xiusi also appears to have been something of an ally of Bo Xilai, the ambitious former Politburo member and chief of southwestern megapolis Chongqing.

After Tian’s investigation was announced, popular Chinese news website Netease declared in a headline that the former air force political chief had “frequent meetings” with Bo, though the report itself did not elaborate.

Overseas Chinese media offer more detail of the Tian-Bo connection. While Tian was still the political commissar of the old Chengdu Military Region in 2012, he issued an article that was widely interpreted to be supportive of Bo Xilai’s “red” political campaign in Chongqing, according to the Chinese language edition of Deutsche Welle.

Tian’s article was issued in April that year, merely two months after Bo’s former ally Wang Lijun attempted to defect to the United States Consulate in Chengdu spilling details of what is believed to have been a coup plot featuring Bo Xilai and then security czar Zhou Yongkang.

W 2015 przemówienie, Party leader Xi had implied that Bo Xilai, Zhou Yongkang, Xu Caihou, and two others had “carried political plot activities” to “wreck and split” the Communist Party. These disgraced elite cadres are known to be part of a rival political network grouped around former Party chief Jiang Zemin.

Given Tian Xiusi’s connections to Jiang’s loyalists, it would appears that his purge is part of Xi’s attempt to root out Jiang’s influence in the military and the Party, and consolidate his control over the regime.

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Ling Jihua, an aide to former Party leader Hu Jintao, was sentenced to life imprisonment on June 7, 2016. (CCTV)Ling Jihua, an aide to former Party leader Hu Jintao, was sentenced to life imprisonment on June 7, 2016. (CCTV)

Ling Jihua, an aide to former Chinese Communist Party leader Hu Jintao and director of the Party’s secretive General Office, was sentenced to life in prison, according to state run media.

W lipcu 4, Xinhua News Agency reported that Ling was found guilty by the Tianjin No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court on June 7 of taking bribes, illegally obtaining state secrets, and abuse of power. State mouthpiece China Central Television ran footage of a grey-haired Ling in a white shirt in the courtroom.

Ling and his family had accepted bribes totaling 77.08 mln juanów (o $11.6 milion), Xinhua reported. He had also obtained large amounts of classified documents while serving as head of the United Front Work Department, the regime’s political subterfuge and espionage organ, and vice chair of the National Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a political advisory body.

Huo Ke, Ling’s former aide at the General Office, had furnished his ex-boss with the classified documents, according to Xinhua.

This February, the Washington Free Beacon zgłoszono, że Ling Wancheng, the older brother of Ling Jihua, is in possession of the over 2,700 classified documents in Ling’s possession.

Given Ling’s highest official position was analogous to the White House chief of staff, he is one of the most elite Party cadres to be jailed in recent decades.

Ling pled guilty and said he would not appeal the sentence.

Ling’s downfall can be traced to the suspicious death of his son in a Ferrari accident in Beijing in March 2012. He was investigated for corruption in December 2014, and formally arrested on July 20, 2015.

Party leader Xi Jinping had in a recent speech accused Ling, former security czar Zhou Yongkang, former military vice chair Xu Caihou, and former Politburo member Bo Xilai of having “carried out political conspiracies to wreck and split the Party.”

molwa, Zhou, Xu, and Bo are known allies of former Party chief Jiang Zemin. Since taking office, Xi has been dismantling Jiang’s political network and consolidating his own power.

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Luo Zhijun spoke at a political meeting on Jan. 27, 2010. Luo was moved from his powerful post as Party Secretary in Jiangsu to a figurehead role at the regime’s rubber stamp legislature. ( Zhijun spoke at a political meeting on Jan. 27, 2010. Luo was moved from his powerful post as Party Secretary in Jiangsu to a figurehead role at the regime’s rubber stamp legislature. (

Luo Zhijun, the former Party Secretary of China’s coastal province of Jiangsu, is the latest member connected to ex-Chinese Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin’s political network to be suddenly moved from a top office recently.

State mouthpiece Xinhua reported on June 30 that Luo was being replaced by Jiangsu governor Li Qiang due to age reasons. Two days later, Luo was sworn in as vice chairman of environmental and resources protection committee in the regime’s rubber stamp legislature in an official ceremony.

Although Luo will hit the official retirement age of 65 this November, it is irregular for provincial level Party cadres to be suddenly moved out of a post with executive power to a figurehead role—in this case the deputy director of Environmental Protection and National Resources Committee in the National People’s Congress—in the final leg of their career.

Luo’s transfer is, jednak, in line with a recent trend of high-ranking officials from Jiangsu Province getting ousted. Ji Jianye, former mayor of Nanjing in Jiangsu, Zhao Shaolin, former provincial standing committee member and secretary general, i Yang Weize, former Party Secretary of Nanjing, were purged in 2015. This May, former Jiangsu deputy provincial governor Li Yunfeng was investigated for “severely violating Party discipline”—a catch-all phrase for malfeasance or political rivalry.

Party leader Xi Jinping’s purge of Jiangsu appears to be aimed at diminishing the influence of former Party leader Jiang Zemin. China’s eastern central province of Jiangsu is both Jiang’s birthplace and one of his power bases. Xi has been steadily uprooting Jiang’s political network since taking office in 2013.

Luo seems to be aware of this context, given his remarks following his demotion.

“I strongly support the decision made by Party Central,” Luo told Jiangsu officials, according to People’s Net, the online version of state mouthpiece People’s Daily. “All accomplishments made in Jiangsu in recent years were the result of strong leadership by General Secretary Xi Jinping.”

But three years ago at a book launch ceremony for Jiang Zemin’s book in his hometown of Yangzhou, Luo had instead offered the following praise for Jiang: “Comrade Jiang Zemin was supported and beloved by the Party, wojsko, and people from all ethnic backgrounds,” Luo said, and added that Jiang’s new book would “urge all cadres and masses in the province to continue to struggle,” reported Xinhua.

Luo had a good reason to be supportive of Jiang. According to overseas Chinese news publication Bowen Press, former General Office head Ling Jihua had promised Luo the position of Ministry of Public Security chief if a coup against Xi—that Ling was planning with the disgraced former Politburo member Bo Xilai and former security czar Zhou Yongkang—was successful. molwa, Bo, and Zhou are firm allies of Jiang Zemin.

In a speech last year, Xi Jinping accused Ling, Zhou, Bo, and other fallen elite cadres for having “carried out political conspiracies to wreck and split the Party.”

Of a piece with his factional affiliation, Luo Zhijun is also involved in the brutal persecution campaign against the traditional Chinese spiritual discipline Falun Gong that Jiang Zemin ordered in July 1999.

The World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG), a nonprofit research organization based in the United States, has confirmed at least 13 deaths during Luo’s tenure as mayor and Party Secretary of Nanjing, and at least 48 deaths during his time in Jiangsu.

WOIPFG holds Luo accountable for the death of Wu Di, a former employee of the Suining County Farming Machinery Factory in Jiangsu.

For refusing to renounce Falun Gong and give up the practice, Wu was fired from her job, forced to divorce her husband, and injected with nerve-damaging drugs while she was incarcerated at a psychiatric ward in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province in 2001, according to an account on, a clearinghouse of information about the persecution.

Wu Di was arrested again in 2002 and imprisoned until 2007. On Nov. 10, 2008, Wu suddenly went missing following months of repeated harassment by local security officials, and was later found to have drowned in river in Jiangsu’s Suining County.

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Qiang Wei attended a meeting at the Great Hall of the People on March 6, 2013. Qiang was recently removed from his post as Party Secretary of Jiangxi Province. (People’s Net)Qiang Wei attended a meeting at the Great Hall of the People on March 6, 2013. Qiang was recently removed from his post as Party Secretary of Jiangxi Province. (People’s Net)

A Chinese provincial Party Secretary connected with a political faction that Party leader Xi Jinping is dismantling recently left office under unusual circumstances.

According to state mouthpiece Xinhua, Qiang Wei, the Party Secretary of Jiangxi Province in southeast China, was replaced by the province’s governor, Lu Xinshe, due to age reasons.

At the age of 63, jednak, Qiang still has two years to go before reaching the mandatory age of retirement. It is also the norm for Party officials in Qiang’s position to finish their careers while still in office.

The unexpected replacement of Qiang Wei was in fact inevitable with the anti-corruption campaign going on in China, according to Heng He, a political analyst with the New York-based New Tang Dynasty Television (NTD). NTD and this newspapers are subsidiaries of Epoch Media Group in New York.

“From the perspective of driving out corruption, the elements of powerfully corrupt and conspiratorial factions are definitely key targets,” Heng told NTD in an interview.

Overseas Chinese language media have long reported on Qiang Wei’s personal corruption and political ties.

W marcu 2015, Bowen Press reported that Qiang’s younger sister profited from real estate developments in Beijing with the help of Ling Jihua, the former head of the Party’s secretive General Office.

When Qiang was Party Secretary of Qinghai Province from 2007 do 2013, he had allegedly helped Zhou Bin, the son of disgraced former security czar Zhou Yongkang, secure lucrative contracts and large-scale projects, according to Insider Magazine, a publication carried by Mingjing News. Mingjing News is known to trade in high-level political information, of varying degrees of veracity, from Party factions.

Insider Magazine also reported that Zhou Yongkang and Ling Jihua had promised Qiang the position of Public Security Bureau chief after their foiled coup against Xi Jinping in 2012.

Xi has hinted at the coup attempt in a speech last year where he denounced Zhou, molwa, and three other purged officials for having “carried out political conspiracies to wreck and split the Party.” These “ambitious figures and conspirators” belong to the influential political network of former Party leader Jiang Zemin.

Heng He, the political analyst, said that Qiang Wei’s political rise and sudden downfall is linked to his obeying Jiang’s orders to persecute practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice that was marked for brutal suppression since July 20, 1999.

Qiang was the head of Beijing’s Political and Legal Affairs Commission—a small but powerful Party organ—from 1996 until he was moved to Qinghai Province in 2007. W 2013, Qiang became Party Secretary of Jiangxi.

The World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG), an international human rights nonprofit, found that Qiang had overseen the persecution of Falun Gong in Beijing, Qinghai, and Jiangxi. Na przykład, the 246 practitioner deaths and most of the over 9,350 detentions in Beijing took place under Qiang’s tenure as the security and legal chief of China’s capital.

WOIPFG considers Qiang responsible for the persecution of Wang Zhiwen, a former engineer with China Railway Materials Commercial Corporation. Wang was arrested at the beginning of the persecution and only released from prison in October 2014. Prison guards once broke his collarbone during a particularly severe beating, and drove toothpicks under his fingernails, before standing atop the fingers.

When Qiang Wei visited Taiwan in 2014 for an official visit, Falun Gong practitioners in Taiwan lined the streets along his travel route and held up banners condemning his persecution. Taiwan Falun Gong practitioners also filed a lawsuit against Qiang for genocide with the High Court of Taiwan.

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Former President Jiang Zemin attend the closing session of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China on Nov. 14, 2012, w Pekinie, Chiny. Names of Jiang was absent from a mourning list of dozens of high level leaders and retired officials, hinting a fading power of Jiang. (Feng Li / Getty Images)Former President Jiang Zemin attend the closing session of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China on Nov. 14, 2012, w Pekinie, Chiny. Names of Jiang was absent from a mourning list of dozens of high level leaders and retired officials, hinting a fading power of Jiang. (Feng Li / Getty Images)

News Analysis

The former Chinese Communist Party leader responsible for ordering the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners and the harvesting of their organs has become the target of current leader Xi Jinping’s purge of the Party.

Jiang Zemin was forcibly removed from his residence by Chinese paramilitary troops in the early morning of June 10, according to a source in a security detail assigned to retired senior cadres.

Jiang was last seen in the custody of senior military officers and persons in plain clothes in a Beijing Military Region compound. The order to seize Jiang was issued by the regime’s top military governing body and was executed with extreme secrecy, according to the source.

At the time, it was Chairman Jiang. There was an instruction to start this thing, organ transplantation.

— Bai Shuzhong, Former minister of health of the People’s Liberation Army General Logistics Department

If this report proves to be accurate, the arrest is the culmination of a more than three-year anti-corruption campaign that has systematically uprooted the sources of Jiang’s power. Even if the report is somehow premature—perhaps Jiang was just brought in for a “chat”—the targeting of Jiang Zemin is nonetheless clear.

Recently, the anti-corruption campaign has zeroed in on those closest to Jiang. Jiang’s elder son is under house arrest, and this spring the Party’s internal disciplinary agency conducted a massive sweep of Shanghai, Jiang’s longtime power base, targeting institutions that have ties to Jiang and his two sons. All along, Jiang’s allies and their cronies have continued to be purged.

Bloody Hands

W lipcu 20, 1999, Jiang Zemin ordered the regime’s security forces to “eradicate” the practice of Falun Gong. “Ruin their reputations, bankrupt them financially, and destroy them physically,” the police were instructed, according to many accounts from Falun Gong practitioners who heard these words firsthand.

When Jiang found that the practitioners held firm to their faith in the face of brutal torture and abuse, he devised a kind of “final solution.”

“At the time, it was Chairman Jiang. There was an instruction to start this thing, organ transplantation,” said Bai Shuzhong, the former health minister of the General Logistics Department, to undercover human rights investigators last year in a telephone call. Bai, speaking at a time of political upheaval, had been led to believe that he was speaking to internal Party investigators.

Jiang “gave an instruction … to sell kidneys, do operations,” Bai recalled, and “after Chairman Jiang issued the order, we all did a lot of anti-Falun Gong work.”

Harvesting the organs of Falun Gong practitioners appeared to be the ideal fix to satiate Jiang’s blood lust—the persecution had already disenfranchised and demonized Falun Gong practitioners, and their incarceration in the hundreds of thousands guaranteed Chinese hospitals a steady supply of fresh organs to generate profits from.

Having taken this course, jednak, Jiang couldn’t let go of power. If he was found guilty of issuing an order that ended in the murder of thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, and then finally millions of his fellow countrymen, he could face charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

But if those whose hands were also stained with blood held the reins of power, Jiang could still hope to see Falun Gong destroyed, and he could enjoy impunity for his crimes.

So Jiang promoted those who perpetuated his persecution, played at Party godfather after relinquishing all official titles, and remained the de facto power in China.

Political Control

Jiang Zemin and his faction dominated the 10-year reign of his successor Hu Jintao.

Hu presided over a Politburo and its Standing Committee that was stacked with Jiang’s loyalists. Men like former security czar Zhou Yongkang and Central Military Commission vice chair Xu Caihou became power centers unto themselves.

Hu’s orders and directives frequently failed to be heard beyond the gates of Zhongnanhai, the official residence of the Party elite, according to reports in overseas Chinese-language media. Operating virtually under Jiang’s thumb, Hu appeared wooden and stilted to foreign observers.

The Falun Gong issue could serve to breach the Jiang Zemin problem because he can’t escape responsibility this way.

— Xin Ziling, Former Chinese defense official

Because Xi Jinping appeared to be cast in the same mold as Hu Jintao—pliant and nonthreatening—Jiang agreed to his succeeding Hu in 2012. The plan was for Xi to serve as an interim head until Bo Xilai, a Politburo member and Party chief of the southwestern megalopolis Chongqing, was able to take the top position.

In Jiang’s eyes, Bo was the perfect character to rule the regime.

“You must show your toughness in handling Falun Gong … it will be your political capital,” Jiang once told his political client Bo, according to veteran Chinese journalist Jiang Weiping. Under Bo’s five-year rule of Chongqing, there were over 700 Falun Gong persecution cases (given the difficulty of getting information out of China, that number is likely to be very understated), według, clearinghouse dla pierwszej ręki informacji o prześladowaniach.

In the early 2000s, Bo Xilai was governor of northeastern China’s Liaoning Province, which researcher Ethan Gutmann has described as the “epicenter” of forced organ harvesting in China.

W 2006 in a suburb of Liaoning’s capital Shenyang, the first credible reports of forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners emerged. Dodatkowo, businesses that plastinated—preserved by replacing body fluids with plastic—the organs of executed prisoners for sale or display grew up in Liaoning during Bo’s rule.

Bo’s ambition proved to be his downfall. Wang Lijun, Bo’s ally and former Chongqing police chief, after he failed to defect at the U.S. Konsulat w Chengdu, disclosed to Party Central a plan by Bo and security czar Zhou Yongkang to unseat incoming Party leader Xi Jinping in a coup.

Jiang’s cronies forced Xi into a position of “you live, I die,” and upon taking office in November 2012 he began moving to uproot Jiang’s power.

Recentering Power

As the anti-corruption campaign launched by Xi Jinping swept through the Party’s political organs and economic sectors, thousands of cadres connected to Jiang Zemin’s political network were arrested.

While Xi ripped out the sinews of Jiang’s power, a pattern emerged—many of the top officials investigated by the Party’s internal disciplinary police had, like the disgraced Politburo member Bo Xilai, showed “toughness in handling Falun Gong.”

Li Dongsheng, the former public security deputy minister and head of the “610 Office,” an extralegal organization founded on June 10, 1999, to oversee the persecution of Falun Gong, was one of the first persecutors to fall.

Next to be purged were “untouchable” characters like Zhou Yongkang, former General Office and United Front Department head Ling Jihua, as well as Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong, the former vice chairs of the regime’s top military governing body.

Near the end of May, overseas Chinese media announced the arrest of close associates of two military generals deeply involved in persecuting Falun Gong.

When Xi’s forces have moved against high-profile targets in the past, they quietly detained them first and only brought charges against them when the moment was judged ripe. If the handling of Jiang Zemin’s case follows this pattern, public charges may be months away.

Changing China

Up until now, Xi’s political interests have been served by taking down those responsible for the persecution of Falun Gong. When Jiang Zemin is charged, Xi will face a moment of truth—whether to end that persecution.

The most obvious reason that Xi Jinping can use to take down Jiang is the crimes he committed against Falun Gong practitioners.

“The Falun Gong issue could serve to breach the Jiang Zemin problem because he can’t escape responsibility this way,” said Xin Ziling, a former defense official with connections to elite cadres with moderate leanings.

“On the issue of persecuting Falun Gong, Jiang Zemin has no support in the Party; not in the National People’s Congress, nor in the State Council,” Xin stressed. “He will be held accountable for the matter.”

Whether Xi will end the genocidal persecution of Falun Gong is not clear, but there are signs that he has opposed it.

W styczniu 2014, Xi closed the regime’s labor camps, key sites used to persecute Falun Gong practitioners.

Under Xi’s leadership, the regime’s highest prosecuting body has accepted over 200,000 criminal complaints by Falun Gong practitioners against Jiang Zemin; two practitioners who filed legal complaints against Jiang during his reign were subjected to cruel torture, and one died from his injuries.

When the former public security minister Li Dongsheng was arrested, his role as 610 Office head was publicized, the first time the regime officially acknowledged, in such a prominent manner, the existence of this secretive organization.

The arrests or legal actions against key members of Jiang’s clique or their families also appear to be announced on or near dates that are significant to Falun Gong.

Na przykład, security czar Zhou Yongkang was prosecuted on June 11 last year, while Jiang was said to be removed from his residence this June 10—the very date from which the notorious 610 Office got its name.

This April, Xi made three reconciliatory gestures near and on the anniversary of April 25, the date in 1999 Jiang revealed to the Politburo his intentions to suppress Falun Gong following a peaceful petition in Beijing by 10,000 practitioners.

Once the power of the Jiang Zemin faction is ended, China will enter a new era, and Xi, no longer burdened by factional opposition, can freely choose a new direction. If he ends the persecution of Falun Gong, this will be an unprecedented change in communist China. The Chinese people, free from the fetters of the Party, will finally enjoy liberty of conscience.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping (C-L) and his Serbian counterpart Tomislav Nikolic (C-R) pass by Serbian army Honor Guards upon Xi's arrival to Belgrade, Serbia, w czerwcu 17, 2016. (Serbian Presidential Press Service via AP)Chinese President Xi Jinping (C-L) and his Serbian counterpart Tomislav Nikolic (C-R) pass by Serbian army Honor Guards upon Xi's arrival to Belgrade, Serbia, w czerwcu 17, 2016. (Serbian Presidential Press Service via AP)

SMEDEREVO, Serbia—China’s President Xi Jinping said Sunday his country’s relations with Serbia should serve as an example for other nations in central and southeast Europe where the Asian power is seeking to boost ties.

Xi was touring the Zelezara Smederevo steel plant at the end of his three-day visit to Serbia, before leaving for Poland. He was cheered on by flag-waving workers at the plant, which was recently bought by a Chinese steel giant.

Xi’s trip reflects China’s efforts to increase its presence in the region and in Europe. China is interested in energy, infrastructure and other big projects to fuel its economy at a time when labor costs are rising at home.

In Poland, Xi will ink deals on finance, lotnictwo, science and education. Poland has sought to develop trade and business ties with China, which it sees as a large market and a counterweight to strictly regulated business ties within the European Union.

Xi will wrap up the trip in Uzbekistan.

China and Serbia have signed a strategic partnership deal and 21 other agreements in trade, infrastructure and other fields as officials pledged to further improve ties.

“Let the Chinese-Serbian cooperation set a good example for cooperation with other nations of central and eastern Europe,” Xi said in Smederevo, a town on the Danube river. “Serbia holds an important, strategic position.”

Serbia’s cash-strapped economy is desperate for foreign investment following years of international isolation during the wars in the 1990s. The Balkan country is a candidate for European Union membership and Xi has supported the bid.

China’s Hebei Iron and Steel Group signed a 46 million euro ($52 milion) deal in April to buy the loss-making Zelezara Smederevo plant from Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel. The deal was closely watched by the EU amid concerns about overcapacity in the steel sector, which European steelmakers blame partly on a glut of cheap Chinese steel.

Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said Sunday that Chinese investors will turn the plant into “the best European steelworks.”

One of the employees, Sasa Jakovljevic, hailed Sunday as a “historic day” for him and his family.

“We expect our steel plant to start working normally. We expect the town to revive and things to get much better," powiedział.

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Liu Yunshan, the propaganda chief and Politburo Standing Committee member, attends the opening ceremony of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 5, 2016. 
(Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images)Liu Yunshan, the propaganda chief and Politburo Standing Committee member, attends the opening ceremony of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 5, 2016. 
(Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images)

News analysis

Very little has changed on the propaganda front in China fifty years from the start of the Cultural Revolution it seems—overly “red” songs are sung in prestigious ceremonial hall in Beijing, outspoken critics of the communist regime are silenced, and the Party leader appears to be establishing a personality cult.

The Party’s internal disciplinary agency, jednak, isn’t amused by the latest efforts of Politburo Standing Committee member and propaganda chief Liu Yunshan.

The Propaganda Department’s leadership lacks political awareness, said Wang Haichen, the head of the discipline inspection team, in a June 3 raport. The inspection team’s two-month probe of the Party’s pen also uncovered discrepancies between Party central’s instructions and what the department carries out, substandard hiring practices, a lack of robust checks against corruption, and a department that operates in an overly formal and bureaucratic manner.

The explicit indictment of the Propaganda Department by the Party’s internal police is the latest in a series of pushbacks by Xi Jinping against Liu Yunshan this year. The indictment, and recent political developments and rumors, suggest that Xi is looking to sideline Liu in the near future.

The June 3 report is an omen that a “huge political earthquake” would shake the top Party leadership, wrote the Chinese-language version of the BBC in its description of the news. “Xi Jinping’s political hindrance could be removed from his post.”

“This is a signal that the elite Chinese leadership isn’t happy with the Central Propaganda Department’s work, and that there will be a rectification of the department,” BBC wrote in the article, citing overseas commentary.

Xi has been in damage control mode ever since subtle propaganda efforts set out to besmirch him beginning in about February.

After the annual lunar new year gala hosted by China Central Television (CCTV) became an out-and-out propaganda drive that also glorified Xi, he publicly toured the headquarters of CCTV, Codzienne Ludowej, and Xinhua, the regime’s three main mouthpieces. Analysts say that Xi’s tour was an attempt to regain control over the Party’s pen.

In end February, the Propaganda Department-controlled internet authorities deleted the social media account belonging to retired tycoon Ren Zhiqiang after he made barbed remarks against regime policies. The internet authorities also issued a lengthy statement explaining their censure, an unusual move which suggested that serious action would be taken against Ren.

Foreign observers slammed Xi Jinping for clamping down on free speech. But the Party’s internal disciplinary agency merely handed Ren, a Party member, a year-long probation in May. Earlier this month, Ren returned to form in criticizing polluting Chinese firms at an environmental forum—and incurred no rebuke.

If the above dynamics can be attributed to a tense back-and-forth between Xi Jinping and recalcitrant elements in his own administration, his enemies appeared to have gone too far last month. In the wake of a Cultural Revolution-themed concert held at the Great Hall of the People that juxtaposed Xi’s image with that of Mao Zedong, Xi seems to have gone on the offensive.

In May, People’s Forum, a supplement to the People’s Daily, the official Party mouthpiece, prominently displayed on its website a Ankieta that sought to explain the concept of “gaojihei,” a term of the internet age. The phrase refers to a kind of sophisticated means of undermining the reputation of someone by damning them with fulsome praise. Days later, za Chinese internet blogger famous for fawning over Xi and churning out nationalistic pieces with Maoist tones got censored.

Xi even banned the Propaganda Department from calling him “Xi Dada,” or Uncle Xi, according to Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao, possibly because the term, especially when used ad nauseum, casts him as a Mao-like figure.

There are two ways to understand Xi Jinping’s recent pushback. One is that he is simply attempting to prevent his political opponents from undermining him by painting him in the image of Mao; the other is that he has no choice but to seize control of the Party’s pen, command the Party’s military, and maintain a grinding anti-corruption campaign, merely to stay one step ahead in a “struggle of life and death” with a rival Party faction.

Propaganda chief Liu Yunshan is a known loyalist of Jiang Zemin the former Party boss. Before Xi took power, Jiang allowed his loyalists in the Politburo Standing Committee—military vice chairs Xu Caihou i Guo Boxiong, and security czar Zhou Yongkang, to name a few—to have the final say on their respective portfolios. In turn, Jiang’s loyalists are committed to protecting their patron because it allows for the continuation of the political order that he oversees.

Xi seeks real control over the Party, and the only way to do that is by dislodging the Jiang power nexus. He has already purged many of Jiang’s top allies, and assumed control over the Party’s gun through a sweeping military reform. The other key Party organ, the Propaganda Department, seems to be next.

Overseas Chinese-language media have recently carried rumors that Liu Yunshan could be purged, and his Propaganda Department reconstituted.

Wang Huning, a devoted adviser to three Party leaders, has reportedly gathered four other Politburo members to demand an investigation be launched against Liu Yunshan, according to Hong Kong political magazine Chengming. Wang and the others claim that Liu had overseen “irregular organizational activities,” and failed to properly perform his duties.

W międzyczasie Mingjing, a Chinese language publication that is known to traffic high-level political news, claims that Xi Jinping is looking to reorganize, and even rename, the Propaganda Department at an important leadership political conclave in 2017.

And according to sources in China, the internal Party disciplinary agency has placed Jiang Mianheng, the elder son of Jiang Zemin, under house arrest. This move is of a piece with longstanding moves by Xi Jinping against Jiang Zemin and his loyalists.

These developments, coupled with the open criticism of the Propaganda Department, do not bode well for Liu Yunshan.

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