Saturday, March 10, 2018

Harmony, Above All

"Authorities are forced to detain, silence and censor critics of Xi Jinping's power grab to give it the veneer of public support."
"With Xi working to cement himself at the core of the Chinese nation, citizens that mock or joke about his rule will likely face further harassment and detentions."
Frances Eve, researcher, Chinese Human Rights Defenders

"What China is afraid of most is the division of the country."
"The unification of the country and the rule of the party is a Chinese characteristic."
Lu Caixia, National Peoples Congress delegate, Beijing
The opening of the first session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 5, 2018. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
To become the leader everlasting seems the goal of deeply ensconced and powerful leaders to whom benevolent dictatorship beckons. Of course it is entirely debatable whether any dictatorship could be viewed as a matter of benevolence; perhaps hinging on that dictator's restraint in committing mass atrocities... And once that political titan holds the reins of total leadership in a totalitarian regime benevolence is rarely on his mind, nor, particularly is the weal of the nation he leads.

Power is intoxicating and corrupting beyond measure. Certainly China's president will not be pioneering new political ground for there are those he can emulate quite  handily. Vladimir Putin chose the method of musical chairs with Dmitry Medvedev as each took turns in playing President and Prime Minister to allow Putin a return to the presidency and the opportunity to alter the constitution played right into his plans to play forever-president.

The other totalitarian striding the world stage now and upsetting the established order in the Middle East is Recep Tayyip Erdogan who manipulated Turkey's constitution as well, in a massive, controlled vote that has given him presidential powers that previously hadn't existed. Both Putin and Erdogan have roiled the international community with their bellicose belligerence and military might each posing as saviors of their nations and countrymen.

As though Hugo Chavez hadn't sufficiently advanced in his immutable name and reputation the Venezuelan presidency to make it synonymous with his great administrative powers, his replacement, Nicolas Maduro had taken up the mantle of permanence and matured the path of national destruction embarked on by his predecessor in the name of the great socialist ideal of the Bolivarian Revolution, leaving Venezuelans to starve or evacuate their country of birth.

Not to say that China's Xi has any such similar intentions. China, having grown itself to occupy the status of the world's greatest producer of consumer goods, a monolithic trade emporium and manufacturing colossus, simply wants to edge out the rest of the advanced world in its technological advantage by using any means at its considerable disposal to coopt all the scientific and technological advances pioneered by other cutting-edge countries to have preeminence in artificial intelligence and nuclear devices -- move over, Vladimir.

So as the 'debate' gets underway at the National People's Congress, prepared to rubber-stamp Xi's preeminence to establish his privilege of entitlement to overturn the restriction on two five-year terms for any Chinese president, there seems to have arisen (gasp) some stirrings of dissent, as though some in that giant nation believe they have the right to have an opinion on the matter. "I think people are overinterpreting this issue. Please do believe in the party, and the wisdom of the party", urged the chief executive of 58.com, a Chinese consumer site.

A planned vote scheduled for Sunday to abolish that pestiferous rule is underway. State media is on board casually referring to the matter as routine, emulating some of the Congress delegates who know which side their bread is buttered on. So in all likelihood, no debate will be contemplated much less tolerated and the motion simply passed as an order of business. And harmony will emerge as China most likes it; intact.

Delegates on the floor of the Great Hall of the People, some of them wearing the ethnic dress of their home districts, during the opening of the National People’s Congress on March 5, 2018. PHOTO: NYTIMES
Delegates on the floor of the Great Hall of the People, some of them wearing the ethnic dress of their home districts, during the opening of the National People’s Congress on March 5, 2018.

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