Xi Jinping’s track record on human rights is bleak across the board.
The News Lens
By: Joseph Y.S. Cheng
The mass protests of May-June 1989 – which ended with the killing of unarmed protesters commonly referred to as the “Tiananmen Square Massacre” – were, in all likelihood, the most significant grassroots challenge to Communist Party control in the 69-year history of the People’s Republic of China. Many of the concerned citizens who took the streets during those months hoped for a government that would implement political reforms, combat corruption, and embrace human rights.
Since the suppression of the Tiananmen Incident, despite soaring economic growth, little or no progress has been made on any of the protesters’ aspirations. The Party regime has introduced no serious political reforms, and China’s liberal intelligentsia have obviously given up hope on CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping, whose rule has become increasingly authoritarian. The CCP’s attempts to bury any public memory of the Tiananmen Incident are emblematic of this backsliding; many young people in China today have little idea what happened that night in Beijing, while the people of Hong Kong – who are supposed to enjoy freedom of speech and expression – were recently issued a warningagainst any public calls to “end one-party dictatorship” by former top PRC administrator for the territory.
Xi very evidently believes that absolute loyalty to the CCP is closely linked with social and political stability. As a result, he has greatly tightened state control over the Internet and social media, and demanded that official mass media swear political loyalty to the CCP, even going so far as to say that they should be “surnamed Party”. He and the CCP have used their strengthened tools of repression to target groups seeking to assert the individual’s right to justice and autonomy in the face of Party control.
Three groups in particular stand out, both in their willingness to stand against Xi’s emphasis on ideological orthodoxy, and in the consequences they have been made to suffer as a result: human rights lawyers, autonomous labor groups, and underground churches. Under the Hu-Wen administration, all three were subject to regular state harassment, but still enjoyed some space to operate. As part of the Xi administration’s crackdown on organization and expression, they have been viewed as threats to the Party regime, and treated accordingly. [FULL STORY]