Several weeks ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a visit to CCTV and People’s Daily to tell them what a great job they’re doing. The feeling, The Shanghaiist quipped, was mutual.
The media, Xi said while making the rounds, should “reflect the will of the Party, mirror the views of the Party, preserve the authority of the Party, preserve the unity of the Party and achieve love of the Party, protection of the Party and acting for the Party.”
So what you’re saying is that it’s all about the Party?
As unequivocal as that might sound, someone at Wujie News, which is jointly owned by SEEC Media Group, Alibaba and the government of Xinjiang, didn’t get the message because on March 4, an open letter signed by “loyal Communist party members,” was published to Wujie’s website. Among other things, it accused Xi of “indulging in a personality cult,” criticized the President’s handling of the economy, and, perhaps most notably, contained threats against the Party leaders family.
"We are loyal communist. On the occasion of the "two sessions" held, we write this letter to you, asking you to resign from all party and state leadership positions," the letter reads. "Made this request, out of consideration of the Party's cause, out of the country and nation's future to consider, too, it is out of consideration for you and your family own security."
Needless to say, the letter was taken down immediately. Shortly thereafter, the “disappearances” began, starting with a 35-year-old political reporter called Jia Jia. Jia, who has nearly 100,000 twitter followers, vanished from a Beijing airport en route to Hong Kong on March 15. When he didn’t show up for a business luncheon the next day, his friends began to worry.
Jia’s lawyer Yan Xin would later confirm that his client had indeed been arrested. “There were police officers from the airport branch assisting in the case, so they could confirm Jia was taken away,” Yan said last Sunday. Jia told friends before departing for Hong Kong that he suspected he may be detained.
Today, Yan confirmed that Jia has been released by authorities.
“Jia Jia, who was taken away by police on March 15 from a Beijing airport, on Friday night informed friends in a private social media group of his safety,” AP reports. “His lawyer Yan Xin confirmed that Jia was free, had met his wife and although he was staying in a hotel could return home any time.”
"Thank you, everyone," Jia posted in the social media. "I dare not forget your concerns."
Right. And Xi isn’t about to “forget” that someone, even it wasn’t Jia, threatened his wife and, probably worse in his eyes, the Party. As AP goes on to note, the “disappearances” have continued. “The president of Watching.cn, Li Wanhui, two top editors " including Editor-in-Chief Ouyang Hongliang ", two site technicians, and nine other technicians working for a technology firm that provides support to the site are all reported missing.
That’s not all. “A New York-based Chinese Internet activist said on Friday that China's authorities have detained three members of his family in connection with an open letter calling for the resignation of President Xi Jinping,” Reuters reports, adding that “in an interview in New York where he lives, Wen Yunchao said his parents and younger brother were ‘taken away’ by the authorities on Tuesday and have disappeared, days after the government ‘harassed’ his family to investigate his suspected involvement in distributing the letter.”
"There is no reasonable excuse for them to take away my parents and my brother, no matter how you look at it," Wen said. "I've told them very clearly I'm not the author of the letter, I did not aid anyone in broadcasting the letter, and third, that I did not post the letter on any website,” he added.
But Xi isn’t buying it. Or if he is, he’s not buying that Wen doesn’t know who’s ultimately behind the publication of the lengthy missive. “Wen said his parents told him by phone earlier this month that the authorities promised to stop harassing them if Wen disclosed to the government who wrote the letter and how it was published,” Reuters goes on to recount.
In other words: "Just tell us who we should shoot and we'll give you your family back."
The problem for Xi and the Party here is that this comes at a particularly sensitive time. The public is already restless over the threat of a severe economic contraction and millions of layoffs loom large on the horizon as Beijing looks set to eliminate excess capacity in the industrial sector by winding down and/or restructuring the country's collection of inefficient, elephantine SOEs. Those job losses are already creating social unrest and just about the last thing Xi needs is for the public to rally behind a political martyr. Amnesty International isn't helping the politburo by making statements like this: "The authorities should call off the political hounding of those suspected to be behind the open letter and release all those detained in connection with it."
So stay tuned to see who ultimately gets the blame for this and how the Chinese media - which, as you can see from the image shown above, are absolutely terrified of thrilled with Xi - convey the story to the increasingly disaffected masses.
For those who missed it, the letter at the center of the controversy is reprinted below in its entirety. While we're reasonably sure the politburo is no match for Tyler Durden, if we turn up missing, you'll know who to blame...
* * *
Xi Jinping, hello.
We are loyal communist. On the occasion of the "two sessions" held, we write this letter to you, asking you to resign from all party and state leadership positions. Made this request, out of consideration of the Party's cause, out of the country and nation's future to consider, too, it is out of consideration for you and your family own security.
Xi Jinping, you since 2012 since the party's "eighteen" was elected the new general secretary of the Central Committee, determined to fight corruption tiger, party corruption and other malpractices improved. You personally served more than one team leader of the Central Leading Group for comprehensive deepening reform, but also a lot of work for economic development, got some people's support, which we see in the eyes.
However, Xi Jinping, we have to point out that it is precisely because this way you will be fully caught up power into their own hands, direct decision-making in all areas of political and economic ideology and culture, have caused unprecedented problems and crisis.
Politically, you abandoned the party's fine tradition, in which the most significant is to have leaders at all levels to support your position as the core, abandoned the democratic system as the core set of the main principle of collective leadership of the Standing Committee, excessive concentration of power. You strengthen the functions of the NPC and the CPPCC Council committee at the same time, weakening the independence of the national authorities of each, including Premier Li Keqiang and other comrades, including the terms of reference has been greatly affected. Meanwhile, the Central Discipline Inspection Commission departments and units stationed in the patrol group and state-owned enterprises has become a new system of power, leading to unclear responsibilities party committees at all levels of government decision-making chaos.
Diplomatically, you abandoned Deng Xiaoping's "low profile" consistent policy of blind shots, not only failed to create a good surrounding international environment, but also to the DPRK successfully conducted an atomic bomb and test missiles, forming a huge threat to China's national security; also the United States successfully return to Asia, with South Korea, Japan, the Philippines and Southeast Asian countries formed a united front to jointly contain China. In dealing with Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan issues, fails to comply with Comrade Deng Xiaoping wise "one country two systems" concept, dilemma, leading Democratic Progressive Party won power in Taiwan, Hong Kong and the rise of independent forces. Especially in the issue of Hong Kong, in an irregular way back to the mainland to Hong Kong booksellers, on the "one country two systems" pose a direct injury.
Economically, you pass the Central Financial and Economic Leading Group, directly involved in the formulation of macro and micro-economic policies, leading to a huge upheaval China's stock and property markets, hundreds of thousands of people of wealth vanished, devastated. Supply-side capacity to reform and policy, resulting in a large number of state-owned central enterprises laid off workers; private business failures blunts, large numbers of people unemployed. "Along the way" strategy, large foreign exchange reserves into chaos countries and regions, but no return. Excessive consumption of foreign exchange reserves, the depreciation of the RMB into the cycle, everyone's confidence in a decline in the national economy is about to collapse into a situation, people wanted change.
On the ideological and cultural, you stressed that "the media surname Party", while ignoring the people of the media, the whole nation was stunned; you support lower Zhou Xiaoping Hua Qianfang this level of people to become the representative of the literary front, so many writers and artists chilling; you condone singing the praises of cultural institutions directly to you, your wife Peng Liyuan sister CCTV Spring Festival Gala served as producer, director, so that we would have loved to be your personal Spring Festival a propaganda tool.You condone these cult of personality, and not to "jump Yee central", to engage in "a party statement" approach, let those of us who experienced the "Cultural Revolution" can not help but secretly worried - our party, the state and the nation can no longer afford new Shinianhaojie! .
Xi Jinping, you carry out anti-corruption high pressure, to correct unhealthy tendencies in the party's helpful role, but because there is no supporting measures to keep up, the objective, but also led to the current government at all levels slack phenomenon, officials do not act timid, people complaining It has further exacerbated the deterioration of the economic situation. We also see that the current anti-corruption, target only focus on the struggle for power. We fear that this practice intensified power struggle within the party, also may give you and your family bring risks of personal security.
Therefore, we believe that Xi Jinping, you do not have to lead the party and the country into the future ability, no longer suitable for the post as general secretary. We ask you for the Party cause, for long-term stability and security for you and your family, resigned from all positions of the party and the country, so that the CPC Central Committee and the National People's alternative elite, aggressive lead us into the future.