Since the beginning of this month, the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) state-run media have run editorials one after another that advocate “struggle” and encourage communist cadres to “stick to principles and dare to struggle.” Then, on Sept. 13, the CCP’s military outlet re-emphasized “Party discipline,” and even cited the execution of a communist cadre 80 years ago to give a vivid example of “Party discipline.”
The first batch of “struggle” articles were based on Xi’s Sept. 1 speech at the Central Party School, in which he emphasized that young communist cadres must be loyal to the CCP, adhere to principles, and dare to fight.
Subsequently, People’s Daily ran an editorial on Sept. 13 which quoted Xi’s speech extensively, stating that “yes man philosophy” must definitively be denounced and that “struggle” is the right path, because, as the old saying goes, it is always the brave one who wins.
In Chinese language, “yes man” or “nice guy” is a derogatory term, referring to those who always try to make peace or please others, without considering if something is ethically right or wrong.
On the same day, China’s military outlet published a 4,300-word article to emphasize strict Party governance and disciplines. It declared that the Chinese army must “listen to the Party and follow the Party,” and quoted Mao Zedong’s words, “it is the Party that commands the gun,” not the reverse.
The article also mentioned the punishment of four former military tycoons: Guo Boxiong, Xu Caihou, Fang Fenghui, and Zhang Yang. In addition, it cited the execution of Xiao Yubi in the 1940s when issuing the stern warning of “strict Party discipline.”
Guo and Xu are former Vice Chairs of the Central Military Commission, Fang is the former Chief of Staff of the Central Military Commission, and Zhang is the former Director of the Political Department of the commission.
Most notable was the mention of Xiao Yubin, a low-level communist cadre who was executed 80 years ago.
A peasant’s son born into poverty, Xiao joined the Red Army in 1933 and was once acclaimed as a hero, because he was a brave soldier and had 87 gunshot scars on his body from the battles the Red Army fought against the Kuomintang army. He was promoted to director of a county tax bureau in Shaanxi Province. Xiao took advantage of his position to embezzle funds, accept bribes, and made money by secretly selling locally produced food and oil to the Kuomintang army. After he was arrested, he wrote a letter to Mao Zedong, stressing his contributions in the past to seek a pardon. However, Mao gave a verbal instruction to the local court, saying that he agreed with the court decision on Xiao’s case: death penalty. Xiao was executed at the end of 1941.
CCP Top Echelon Infighting
Professor Jiang Youlu, 85, a well-known Chinese dissident living in France and a retired engineer of the Chinese Academy of Metrology, believes that the CCP’s series of article are a manifestation of Beijing’s high-level infighting. On the one hand, Xi Jinping must defeat his political enemies; on the other hand, he can’t afford to let the general public figure out that infighting is going on.
“These articles that advocate struggles are meant to put pressure on the Jiang Zemin faction,” Jiang Youlu said. “The trouble for Xi Jinping is that he has many enemies within the CCP, especially inside the military. Xi has to find ways to buttress his power.”
Some commentators noted that Xi is following the old path of Maoism. Jiang says he disagrees.
According to Jiang, Mao indeed had absolute authority and prestige in his time, but nowadays Mao has no place in the hearts of most Chinese people. Xi simply wants to become a new Mao Zedong, in that he hopes to strengthen his rule.
On Sept. 9, the 45th anniversary of Mao Zedong’s death, the CCP did not organize any commemorative activities, nor did the Party’s mouthpieces publish any commemorative articles. Analysts who are familiar with China’s political environment believe this is an indication that Xi’s real purpose is to not bring back Mao’s ideology.