Chinese President Xi Jinping is looking to further cement his position by doubling down on an ultra-nationalist agenda, indefinite one-man rule and ideological conformity.
In an op-ed article written by Simon Tisdall for The Guardian, China has been enveloped in a ring of fire due to Xi's authoritarian and expansionist policies, ever since becoming the President and Chinese Communist Party chief in 2012-13.
Coupled with increasing vehemence of the Xi administration, China is locked in conflict and confrontation from Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong, South China Sea and Taiwan.
"A leader bound by conventional political and institutional checks and subject to public scrutiny might be expected to pause and take stock at such a moment. But in regimented, censored and heavily surveilled one-party China, Xi faces few such constraints. Instead, he is doubling down on an ultra-nationalist agenda, indefinite one-man rule and ideological conformity, as defined by him," Tisdall said.
According to the writer, it is rumoured that the Chinese President might declare himself as "Chairman Xi" soon.
Battered by the coronavirus, China's manufacturing heartlands are recovering from the pandemic at a faster rate. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), 1.2 per cent of growth is predicted for this year and above 5 per cent annually thereafter, well placed ahead of other major economies.
However, there exists an increasing rich-poor divide, which is symbolised by Xi, whose unaccountably large personal fortune is put at USD 1.5 billion. There is evidence that a widening wealth gap is weakening social cohesion. With the pandemic originating in Wuhan last year, China's reputation abroad has been severely hit.
Recently, Xi instructed his party cadres in Tibet to build an "impregnable fortress" to guard against "splitism" and ensure frontier security. Outlining his hardline approach towards the ethnic minorities, he called on further subjugating Tibetan Buddhism to socialist principles.
Oppressive measures and actions practised in Tibet were applied against the Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, Tibetan activist Kelsang Dolma said.
"Chen Quanguo, then a rising star, arrived in Tibet as the new (Chinese Communist) Party secretary in 2011 and rapidly transformed Tibet into one of the most pervasive police states in the world. In 2016, Chen became Xinjiang's party secretary ... bringing techniques practised on Tibetans to Xinjiang," Dolma wrote.
Up to a million Uyghurs and other minorities have been incarcerated in detention camps in Xinjiang for "extremist" activities like praying. Reports emerged in June regarding a campaign of forced sterilisation, contraception and abortion aimed at reducing the birth rate of Uyghurs.
Also, testimony on state-ordered hysterectomies on Uyghur women was broadcast on television. Such repressions amount to crimes against humty, said Tisdall.
Xi's obsession with conformity, security and total obedience led to protests against the move to curb the teaching of Mongolian language in schools in Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region in China. Students in Hohhot shouted slogans, "Mongolian is our mother language! We are Mongolian until death!" students shouted. Inner Mongolia became an independent republic in 1945, which lasted for just two months.
"As in Tibet and Xinjiang, Mongolian unrest reflects wider hostility to the attempted absorption of ethnic minorities into dominant Han Chinese culture, a central tenet of Xi's pursuit of a common national identity. Yet it also suggests that despite all the coercive tools at his disposal, his ruthless methods are stimulating rather than reducing domestic resistance," Tisdall wrote.
In Hong Kong, massive protests erupted against China's move to introduce a draconian national security law, which "effectively threw down a gauntlet to the UK and the international community".
Shifting to Taiwan, which Xi considers the self-governing island as a "renegade province", China is steadily building its military presence in the region. The Chinese President has warned of seizing Taiwan by force.
"Some dismiss this as sabre-rattling. But encouraged by the west's tame surrender of Hong Kong, Xi may yet dump Beijing's failing policy of gradual, peaceful reunification. He may calculate instead that Donald Trump's chaotic America, busy fighting itself, will not come to Taiwan's defence. That could bring calamity," Tisdall wrote in The Guardian.
The author noted that as China rises to become a global superpower, he perhaps fears genuinely for the nation's unity and internal security.
Recently, Cai Xia, a Beijing professor, was expelled from the Communist Party for lashing out at Xi and compared him to a mafia boss.
"Under the regime of Xi, the CCP is not a force for progress for China. In fact, it is an obstacle to China's progress," Cai was quoted as saying by South China Morning Post last month.
"I believe I am not the only one who wants to leave this party. More people would like to withdraw or quit this party. I had intended to quit the party years ago when there was no more room to speak and my voice was completely blocked," she had said.
( With inputs from ANI )
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