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China’s leadership provoking conflict with India as diversion, says former Communist Party school professor Cai Xia

Chinese President Xi Jinping.   | Photo Credit: AP

The border clash between India and China was a result of the Chinese leadership “thinking of ways to divert the attention of the Chinese public”, a former professor at the elite Central Party School in Beijing has said.

Cai Xia, who was on Monday expelled from the Communist Party of China (CPC) after a recording of her remarks criticising President Xi Jinping surfaced this summer, had previously served as a professor at the school for years.

The Central Party School is the most important institution in Beijing that trains CPC officials. Mr. Xi served as the school’s president for more than five years until 2013. The current president, Chen Xi, is a member of the Politburo, and past presidents include former leaders Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi and Hu Jintao.

Outspoken views

Ms. Cai, 68, has been known for her outspoken and liberal views, but her explicit criticism of the Party leadership is rare for an insider who worked within the system for decades.

In the recording, she “called on the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee to replace a top leader” and “called for an overhaul of a wide range of domestic and foreign policies,” the South China Morning Post reported. Ms. Cai was then expelled for making speeches “with serious political problems” that “seriously violated the political discipline of the party”.

On Tuesday, Ms. Cai reiterated her criticism of the leadership in an interview with The Guardian, speaking from the U.S., where she currently is. “You can see the confrontation between China and the U.S.,” she said. “[Mr. Xi] has made the world an enemy... Whether it is a domestic or international issue, it is very difficult for others to restrict him. It is inevitable that his judgment and decisions will be mistaken.”

She said the emphasis on wanting “to consolidate his own position and authority” had led to “provoking conflict” with other countries, including India.

“Considering domestic economic and social tensions, as well as those in the party of the last few years, he will think of ways to divert the attention of the Chinese public, provoking conflict with other countries, for example encouraging anti-American sentiment and the recent clash between China and India,” she said.

On her expulsion from the CPC, she said, “My speech is free from any constraints. Now I am responsible only for my own conscience and principles.”

‘Unchecked powers’

Ms. Cai was particularly critical of Mr. Xi abolishing term limits in 2018, which she saw as a turning point for the country’s politics.

“When no one can oppose him, that means that his power is unchecked,” she said. “Since people don’t tell him the truth or hide it from him, he doesn’t necessarily know the truth... Because people cannot speak the truth, Wuhan’s epidemic spread across the country and the whole world and everyone has been harmed. Chinese citizens have borne the brunt and among Chinese people, people in Wuhan suffered the most.”

Stricter disciplinary codes that the CPC adopted in 2016, she added, had further constricted the freedom of expression. “As long as you express a different opinion, you are in violation of party discipline,” she said. “Before, you could still speak out and you would be subjected to enormous pressure, but they couldn’t prevent you from speaking.”

Ms. Cai said a growing number of people within the political elite in China were concerned at recent trends. “I think within [the Party] 70% and among middle and high level officials the proportion may be even higher,” she said. “For many of these cadres, their thinking was most deeply affected by the reform era under Deng Xiaoping. When China joined the World Trade Organization, we fully entered the global economy. Those within the party have experienced the last 20, 30 years and they understand in which direction is right and which is a dead end. We are among a group of cadres who took up our positions after reform and opening. So that is why I say everyone is very clear about what is happening.”

At the same time, China’s relatively quick emergence from the pandemic, coupled with continuing troubles in the U.S., has for others burnished the position of Mr. Xi and the CPC and deepened anti-American sentiment. Fang Fang, a popular writer in Wuhan who chronicled the trauma suffered by the city in a diary recording the early stages of the pandemic, subsequently faced backlash online for supposedly giving ammunition to China’s critics.

Ms. Cai may soon encounter the same response. “When the U.S. is aiming an offensive against the Communist Party,” Hu Xijin, the editor of the Party-run Global Times was quoted as saying, “she should not, objectively speaking, stand on the side of the attacker.”

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 3:43:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/chinas-leadership-provoking-conflict-with-india-as-diversion-says-former-communist-party-school-professor-cai-xia/article32387622.ece

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