Beijing’s New War on Constitution
June 09, 2013 / Minxin Pei
Wall Street Journal
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WALL STREET JOURNAL - The weekend's meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping naturally focused attention on nettlesome security issues, such as cyber espionage and North Korea, that have highlighted the fragility of U.S.-China relations in recent months. But the California summit, however useful it was, is a less important event than the ongoing ideological battle in Beijing that concerns where Mr. Xi plans to take China and what his much-touted "China dream" is really about.
Little noticed by the outside world, the Chinese propaganda machine has, since mid-May, launched a ferocious campaign against the idea of constitutional rule. Nearly all the most important official newspapers, such as the People's Daily, the People's Liberation Army Daily, and Party Construction (a journal published by the party's Department of Propaganda) , have carried lengthy articles denouncing the idea of constitutional rule as bourgeois and subversive. In the Chinese context, "constitutional rule" means no more than placing the Communist Party under the rule of the existing Chinese constitution. But even such a modest proposal seems too radical. The party's message in response is becoming clear: The Communist Party is above the constitution.
It would be a mistake to dismiss this campaign as a mere bureaucratic exercise by party functionaries eager to please their new bosses. Since Mr. Xi's installation as party chief in November, one of the most important public speeches he has delivered was the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the 1982 Chinese constitution. During that speech on Dec. 4, Mr. Xi declared that "we must self-consciously abide by constitutional principles, promote the spirit of constitutionalism, and fulfill constitutional missions." It is inconceivable that mid-level minions in the propaganda apparatus would have the guts to turn Mr. Xi's language on its head without instructions from the top.
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Minxin Pei is a non-resident senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States as well as the Tom and Margot Pritzker Professor of Government and director of the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies at Claremont McKenna College. - See more at: http://www.gmfus.org/archives/days-of-one-party-control-in-china-are-numbered