Chinese state media revealed recently, in a typically opaque manner, that the Party Secretary of the Shandong Political and Legislative Affairs Committee (PLAC) had been replaced. Shandong security officials are responsible for the treatment of human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng, who escaped from his heavily guarded home in Linyi county in that province in April.
No announcement was made of the leadership change, but on May 29 the name of 58-year-old Cai Limin did not appear among a list of PLAC officials in a state-media report. The meaning was clear.
Then on June 5, in a report by Xinhua, the state mouthpiece, former vice-governor of Shandong Province, Cai Limin, appeared in the media as the Secretary of PLAC in Shandong. The changeover was complete.
Cai Limin’s background is not in the security forces. This makes the switch in Shandong part of a parallel trend in the staffing of the PLAC around China, where hardliners who rose up through the powerful and secretive security forces are being replaced with generalist cadres.
Chen Guangcheng’s daring escape in late April was enormously embarrassing for China’s security forces, and was also a blow to Zhou Yongkang, the Politburo Standing Committee member in charge of the PLAC.
According to Canyu.org, a dissident website, on May 16 an anonymous Linyi City official said that Zhou Yongkang personally went to Linyi to oversee the monitoring and suppression of Chen Guangcheng. He reportedly ordered that netizens and supporters who try to visit Chen should be “punished as severely as Falun Gong” practitioners.
When Chongqing’s former top cop, Wang Lijun, fled for his life to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu on Feb. 6, he set in motion a political storm that has not subsided. The battle behind the scenes turns on what stance officials take toward the persecution of Falun Gong. The faction with bloody hands—the officials former CCP head Jiang Zemin promoted in order to carry out the persecution—is seeking to avoid accountability for their crimes and to continue the campaign. Other officials are refusing any longer to participate in the persecution. Events present a clear choice to the officials and citizens of China, as well as people around the world: either support or oppose the persecution of Falun Gong. History will record the choice each person makes.
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