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Chinese president turns his back on political reform 25 years after Tiananmen Square
Publication Date : 05-06-2014
Wednesday marks the 25th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen incident, an armed crackdown on student-led pro-democracy protests by the Chinese Communist Party.
The incident which claimed the lives of several hundred people—was labelled a “counterrevolutionary riot” by the Communist Party, which not only imposed media restrictions but also exhaustively suppressed any subsequent attempts to reevaluate the incident.
In the run-up to the key anniversary commemorating a quarter century since the incident, the administration of Chinese President Xi Jinping tightened controls further over such activities as paying tribute to the victims who perished in the armed crackdown.
In May, authorities detained five people including a lawyer for participating in a study session about the incident. They also detained journalists and others for investigation and are continuously obstructing information-gathering activities by foreign reporters—a situation we must say is alarming.
China is also thoroughly monitoring and imposing ever-tightening restrictions over information on the internet about the events that took place on June 4, 1989. It is apparently alarmed by the notion that the spread of talks about the incident through assemblies and on the internet could stoke a new wave of antigovernment movements.
China achieved rapid economic growth by introducing a bold market economy, on the back of hopes that the distribution of “fruits of development” to the people would prevent the public from becoming alienated.
On the political front, the nation has placed priority on the stable maintenance of the Communist Party’s monolithic rule through its repression of pro-democracy movements.
The Communist Party has forbidden educational institutions from teaching the Tiananmen incident, which is essentially a cover-up of an “inconvenient history” by authorities.
That the Chinese leadership has boosted its mainly anti-Japanese patriotic propaganda and education since the incident is aimed at appealing to nationalistic sentiments, thereby upholding the administration’s power to bring people together under its leadership.
But public dissatisfaction has been running high after various problems that include economic disparity, corruption and environmental destruction were brought to the fore on the back of China’s economic development. Confrontations with ethnic minorities, such as the Uygur, continue to intensify more than ever before.
In a speech he delivered in April, Xi declared China would never copy political systems from other nations, in what was taken to mean that he believes China does not need democracy—thereby reaffirming his intention to retain monolithic party rule.
If he turns his back on political reform and disregards the rule of law, the Xi administration’s confrontations with the public will intensify further. The spread of group protests, which reportedly number about 200,000 a year, show that China’s high-handed governing style is approaching its own limitations.
China is also escalating its showdowns with its neighbors in the East and South China seas. It is feared that the country may take even more hegemonic approaches in dealing with other countries in an attempt to skirt criticism from its people.
The Japanese government should take concerted efforts with the United States and Southeast Asian nations to maintain vigilance over China’s aggressive actions.