CCP detains Maoists as economic pressures foment disaffection
The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) centenary year roundup of individuals deemed a threat to its mandated message of unity and loyalty even ensnared adherents of Mao Zedong, the late party leader and founder of the People’s Republic of China, according to media reports.
Numerous Maoists were detained ahead of the party’s 100th anniversary in July 2021, part of a countrywide smothering of dissenting voices stretching from Hong Kong to Tibet and Xinjiang.
“They are likely to create instability for the CCP regime, so the CCP is cracking down on Maoists as well as rights activists and democracy activists,” scholar Wu Zuolai told Radio Free Asia (RFA). “The stability of the regime trumps everything. They regard any kind of social movement as a disturbance once it gains a bit of momentum.”
Analysts said the CCP viewed its centennial celebrations as an opportunity to further rewrite history and airbrush out chapters of party brutality against China’s people, including the political purges and terror campaigns of the decadelong Cultural Revolution that Mao unleashed in 1966.
“There’s a lot of its history (the party) needs to forget,” Robert Bickers, a historian at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, told Reuters in late June. “It has devoted a great deal of effort throughout the course of its 100 years ensuring that there is an agreed text of a history that needs to be celebrated.”
As the CCP seeks to claim credit for China’s development as a global power, however, a slowing economy, rising housing costs, grinding working conditions and growing income disparity are combining to make the country a “fertile ground for a Mao renaissance,” particularly among disaffected teens and young adults, according to The New York Times newspaper. “In a modern China grappling with widening social inequality, Mao’s words provide justification for the anger many young people feel toward a business class they see as exploitative,” the newspaper reported in early July.
The CCP regime has responded by censoring Maoist-themed content on social media platforms. It also canceled a May 2021 conference of Maoist ideologues and organizations timed to coincide with the 55th anniversary of the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, RFA reported.
Maoism, which views society as a never-ending battle between the oppressed and their oppressors, represents a challenge to the CCP’s one-party rule. Among the Maoists detained in recent weeks was Ma Houzhi, a 77-year-old retired professor, RFA reported, citing Taiwan’s Central News Agency. Ma was released from jail in 2019 after being sentenced to 10 years for establishing a Chinese Maoist Communist Party. The CCP prohibits the formation of new political parties.
“They are very aware of growing discontent and a widening gap between rich and poor, as well as a large number of young people who have no real future,” Wu said of the ruling party. “They actually have a huge amount of data on the wealth gap, and they know that there could be a tipping point for social unrest, so they go in hard and fast.”
Like Mao before him, CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping has sought to create a cult of personality to fortify his control of the party. Centennial propaganda featured both men more than any of the nation’s other communist leaders. (Pictured: Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping waves above a portrait of the late leader Mao Zedong during a July 2021 ceremony in Beijing marking the party’s centennial.)
Almost 45 years after the death of their “great leader,” Maoists are potentially a more appealing option to the Chinese people than the CCP regime because they are transparent about their beliefs, according to Song Yongyi, a professor at California State University in Los Angeles.
As a result, “Xi Jinping is highly likely to sacrifice them” to maintain his grip on power, Song told RFA.
IMAGE CREDIT: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS