Chinese media have been ordered to spread fake news about Belarus, and a campaign has been launched stressing that the CCP and Xi Jinping should be obeyed unconditionally.
by Massimo Introvigne
Once upon a time, there was the Soviet Union, presiding over a Communist Eastern Europe. Xi Jinping is part of a generation of CCP leaders whose dreams are haunted by the ghost of the Soviet collapse. What if the same happens in China? The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was persuaded that its power will last forever. That Party does not even exist any longer. The CCP continuously studies how this was possible, and how it can preserve its power and prevent Communism from going downhill in China, as it did in the Soviet Union and its satellite countries.
Two weeks ago, the CCP was taken by surprise by what happened in Belarus. Although President Lukashenko’s reasons for this privileged relationship may be more pragmatic than ideological, he has consistently supported the CCP, including when it came under fire for its human rights violation, and has been called an “exceptional partner” of China. Rightly or wrongly, Chinese ideologues have proclaimed Belarus the only European country still faithful to its Socialist past.
This loyalty to Socialism, according to how the CCP reads European history, should guarantee stability, but in fact the contrary is happening. Voices from inside China describe the upper leadership of the CCP as deeply concerned and even paranoid about events in Belarus. It is as if the ghosts of the fall of the Berlin Wall and of countries such as Poland, the Baltic States, or Hungary joining the European Union are suddenly haunting the nights of the CCP leaders again.
There have been two quick reactions to these unexpected developments. First, Chinese media have been ordered to spread fake news about Belarus. By doctoring images and videos, they claim that massive demonstrations support Lukashenko, outnumbering the events organized by the opposition, even if the contrary is obviously true. The army of CCP trolls is active spreading these fake news on social media both in China and internationally. This time, however, adding to the concerns of the CCP, not even the Chinese believe the lies, and there are reactions on Chinese social media ridiculing the official coverage of events in Belarus.
The second reaction is to reinforce the propaganda about the urgent need to obey the CCP without conditions, and avoid any hint of criticism. This campaign is not due to Belarus only. It was probably prepared before the events in Minsk, and is also an answer to the activism of former CCP ideologue Cai Xia, who is in the United States and is multiplying the interviews calling for the Party cadres to get rid of Xi Jinping and his personality cult.
On August 20, the Section “Theory” of the CCP organ People’s Daily published several articles stressing the need to obey the CCP and its leader without conditions. Jiang Jinquan, deputy director of the CCP Central Policy Studies Office, wrote in the leading article that, “we must firmly maintain the authority of the CCP Central Committee, with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, and centralized and unified leadership, and ensure that the entire party act in unison”. Jiang quoted Marx: “A single fiddler directs himself, but an orchestra needs a conductor,” Engels: “Without authority, there can be no concerted action,” Lenin: “In history, no class can achieve a dominant position without selecting its own political leaders and advanced representatives, who are good at organizing and leading movements,” Mao: “The whole party obeys the Central Committee,” and Deng Xiaoping: “The Central Committee must have authority.” Based on these Communist luminaries, Jian concluded that, “Without the authority of the Party’s Central Committee and a centralized and unified leadership, all would say their own things and manage their own affairs, and nothing can be done.” All CCP members should regard as their duty “the resolute implementation of the Party’s Central Committee’s decisions, and absolutely avoid what is prohibited by the Party’s Central Committee. The implementation of the CCP Central Committee’s decisions and indication should be carried out without conditions, without compromise, and without making changes.”
This is, the CCP believes, the way to avoid repeating in China what is happening in Belarus. But words are not enough. Bitter Winter reported last month that the CCP had announced a remake of Mao’s Yan’an Rectification Campaign (整風 運動), one of the bloodiest internal purges in the Party’s history. The purge is advancing speedily. On August 18, Chen Yixin, secretary-general of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission and director of the National Political and Legal Affairs Team Education and Rectification Pilot Office, announced that the first stage of ‘study and learning’ (学习学习教育环节) of the neo-Yan’an “Rectification Campaign” has been completed, and the second stage of ‘investigating and correcting problems’ (自查自糾環節) has started. It is well possible that the fall of Gong Daoan, Shanghai’s police chief since 2017, who is now being investigated for “serious violations of the discipline and the law,” is part of what promises to be a much larger purge.