FPI, March 8, 2019
Chinese supreme leader Xi Jinping and the Communist Party are stepping up demands for political loyalty from China’s 1.3 billion people.
“Be on high alert to all kinds of erroneous thoughts, vague understandings, and bad phenomena in ideological areas,” the party warned earlier this year. “Keep your eyes open, see things early and move on them fast.”
Oct. 1 marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of Communist China. This year is also other milestones: 30 years since the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in and around Tiananmen Square; 60 years since the Dalai Lama fled from Tibet into exile.
Meanwhile, television and movie star Michelle Ye Xuan, 39, found she was banned from leaving China when she was about to board a plane in Beijing last month.
Ye was stopped at the border at around 7 a.m. on Feb. 24 in Beijing Capital International Airport when her ID matched the data on the blacklist from the social credit system, the Daily Mail report said.
In an address to legislators on March 5, Xi said “This year is the 70th anniversary of the founding of new China. Maintaining sustained, healthy economic development and social stability is a mission that is extremely arduous.”
The focus on “social stability” includes a social credit score that penalizes “untrustworthy” people. One of those who found herself grounded by the system is China-born and U.S.-raised actress Michelle Ye Xuan, who has been banned from traveling out of China due to a reportedly poor social credit score.
Since his rise to power in 2012, Xi has tightened the party’s grip on almost every facet of government and the lives of China’s residents.
Last year parliament amended the country’s constitution to remove term limits and allow Xi to stay in office for the rest of his life if he so chooses.
In late January the party again stressed loyalty in new rules on “strengthening party political building,” telling members they should not fake loyalty or be “low-level red,” in a lengthy document carried by state media.
On March 1, Xi spoke at the Central Party School, which trains rising officials, mentioning the word “loyalty” at least seven times, according to official accounts in state media.
Xi noted that whether an official is loyal to the party is a key gauge of whether they have ideals and convictions. “Loyalty always comes first,” he said.
Duncan Innes-Ker, regional director for Asia at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said China was concerned about resistance at lower levels to following party orders, the slowing economy and also about demands for political reforms as people get steadily richer.
“The desire for control is not something particular to any time period,” Innes-Ker told Reuters. “It is a fundamental tenet of autocratic governments that they are constantly paranoid about being overthrown.”
Ye, who won the Miss Chinese International competition at the age of 19, had failed to follow a court order from last year after being found guilty of defaming her then boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend on social media, The Daily Mail reported.
Ye was sued in 2017 for spreading malicious rumors about her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend on China’s Twitter-like Weibo. She was found guilty by the Shanghai Xuhui Court in April, 2018.
The court ordered Ye to stop the defaming activities, delete all related posts from Weibo, issue a written apology to the victim and give the victim a payout of around 9,600 yuan ($1,428).
According to a court statement, Ye failed to meet the court’s order by the deadline of August. The court said it put a restriction on Ye’s ability to spend money in China – which the court said the star later broke – and attempted to contact her repeatedly, but the actress did not respond.
As a result, she was blacklisted by the court and banned from leaving the country.
It remains unclear whether Ye was using a Chinese or U.S. passport at the time.
A judge of the Shanghai Xuhui Court was immediately notified. The judge contacted Ye, urging her to carry out her legal duty. The court said Ye agreed to do so at once. She deleted the required posts from her social media while still at the airport and handed the required apology to the court by noon.
Ye was also fined 80,000 yuan ($11,901) for her behavior, the court said.
FPI, Free Press International