China’s Communist Party revises history to glorify Xi

China’s ruling Communist Party on Tuesday released the full text of a pivotal resolution on the country’s modern history, with expectations solidifying that President Xi Jinping will serve a controversial third term as leader.

The resolution on the major achievements and historical experiences of the party during its 100-year history touted Xi’s accomplishments since he became its leader in 2012, while highly evaluating his policies on Taiwan and Hong Kong.

The document, which was adopted at a four-day sixth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee through last Thursday, also identified the quashed pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989 as a “political disturbance.”

The latest resolution is the first such declaration in 40 years and only the third of its kind since the party was founded in 1921. Its full text was issued hours after Xi held his first virtual meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden.

A similar resolution was first adopted in 1945 under Mao Zedong, who founded the People’s Republic of China in 1949, and the second came in 1981 under Deng Xiaoping, who advanced a policy of reform and opening-up in the socialist state.

With the Communist Party’s endorsement of the resolution, Xi has become a figure equivalent to other powerful leaders in China’s history, foreign affairs experts say.

In China, the ruling party decides how to interpret the history of the nation under its effective one-party rule. Chinese citizens cannot cast doubts on or take objection to the interpretation.

The nearly 100 million members of the party have been unable to act in defiance of the interpretation based on the concept that it has made achievements while overcoming failures.

In 2018, China removed from its Constitution a two-term limit for the president and vice president, which would enable Xi to hold onto power for life.

The basic logic that rationalizes Xi’s long-term rule is that the party should attain the reunification of self-ruled democratic Taiwan with the mainland, pundits said.

“Resolving the Taiwan issue and realizing the complete reunification of the motherland are one of the unswerving historical tasks of the party,” the resolution said.

“Since 2016, Taiwan authorities have been stepping up their ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist activities, severely influencing the momentum of peaceful development of cross-strait relations,” it said.

Xi has “put forward a series of important concepts and major policy propositions on Taiwan, forming the party’s overall strategy for solving the Taiwan issue in the new era,” the resolution added.

As for Hong Kong, the central government has “firmly” supported the former British colony to “stop violence and chaos and restore order,” it said.

China and Taiwan have been governed separately since they split amid a civil war in 1949. Their relations have deteriorated since independence-leaning Tsai Ing-wen became Taiwan’s president in 2016. Beijing regards the island as a renegade province.

The communist-led government, meanwhile, has recently been taking tough actions against Hong Kong since large-scale protests sparked by a now-withdrawn bill to allow extraditions to the mainland morphed into a pro-democracy movement in 2019.

While avoiding using the word “Tiananmen,” the resolution also said the ruling party safeguarded the “fundamental interests of the people” from a “serious political disturbance” in China in 1989.

To maintain its solid one-party rule, the Communist Party has justified the 1989 killing of hundreds of Chinese citizens by declaring it necessary to quell political unrest. Open discussion about the incident remains taboo in China.

Following the 1989 death of Hu Yaobang, sacked as general secretary of the ruling party two years earlier for his liberal leanings, students rallied to call for democracy. Support for the protest grew as people poured into Tiananmen Square.

The protest defied martial law, declared in late May, and inspired big rallies across China. But from late June 3 into June 4, troops and armored vehicles cleared the square by force, killing protesters and bystanders at the center of Beijing.

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