China turns to police, cabdrivers to enforce orderly transition in power

McClatchy, By Tom Lasseter

BEIJING — As the United States ends its political season, China’s is beginning, and Beijing would like to keep things in order. That means red banner slogans strung along roadsides, flurries of propaganda-as-news and, of course, a police crackdown.

In the coming week, officials here will trumpet the 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party as an event confirming that, as one state news item recently put it, “democracy with Chinese characteristics is improving.”

Much about the meeting will be a reminder, however, that China remains an authoritarian state that often requires a certain amount of willing suspension of disbelief when it comes to public politics.

The congress of 2,270 delegates is set to exercise “intraparty democracy” in electing a new central committee for the party. After the congress, which starts Thursday and expected to last a week, the new central committee will convene a meeting at which the politburo and its standing committee are chosen. The seven or nine standing committee members – the new total isn’t yet known – form the nucleus of ruling power in China..

A small level of competition in voting is expected for full members of the central committee, now just above 200 seats, and, though the prospect seems slim, Reuters cited unnamed sources Tuesday as saying that the same could be true for the 25-person politburo as well. But the all-powerful standing committee almost definitely has been determined through factional jockeying behind closed doors.

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A story Monday by the Xinhua news wire reported that a senior security official had recently been “inspecting a security ‘moat’ project created in areas encircling Beijing for the congress’ smooth holding.” There was apparently no water involved, just a lot of police.

The story quoted Zhou Yongkang, a standing committee member who oversees domestic security, as urging authorities in Beijing and surrounding regions to form a “solid defense . . . thus creating a safe, orderly, auspicious and peaceful environment for the successful holding of the 18th National Congress.”

Amnesty International released a statement last week that gave an idea of what that might mean: More than 100 activists have been rounded up so far.

“The police have placed dozens of activists under house arrest, forcibly removed individuals from Beijing and have closed down the offices of community groups in attempts to suppress peaceful dissent,” the group said. “Scores of activists are believed to be held in ‘black jails’ across the country. . . . Hotels, hostels, basements of buildings and farm centers have all been reportedly used as black jails.”

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1 comment to China turns to police, cabdrivers to enforce orderly transition in power

  • adrena

    China’s elite have a finger in every pie.

    Deutsche Welle, By Markus Rimmele

    Nothing much is known about China’s political elite, except that those in power and their relatives are extremely rich. They have shared out the economic pie between themselves and are unwilling to give it up.

    It’s an open secret in China that those in power live in luxury. A taxi driver tells me as he drives past a big coal mine in Shijiazhuang outside of Beijing that it belongs to the relatives of Li Peng, who was prime minister until 1998.

    “Who are the rich in China?” asks Li Weisen, a Shanghai-based economist. “Not the small private companies in the country but those in power and those close to them. Power provides the path to money. And that’s because the power structures are not balanced.”

    Nobody has profited more from three decades of economic boom in China than the power elite and its clans. In the 1990s, many public assets were transferred to private hands.

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