“One Sunday morning, when the animals assembled to receive their orders, Napoleon announced that he had decided upon a new policy. … The four young pigs who had protested … were promptly silenced by a tremendous growling from the dogs. … Napoleon … announced that he had already made all the arrangements.” (George Orwell, Animal Farm, p. 66 – 67).
This coming Sunday will be important for the Chinese President Xi; as important as that Sunday for Napoleon. In Beijing, the opening session of China’s annual meetings for its top legislature began this Monday with familiar pomp and circumstances. However, this Sunday, the National People’s Congress is expected to vote to give Xi the right to remain in office indefinitely, overturning a 35-year-old constitutional rule that has limited presidents to two five-year terms.
Since last year, the Chinese propaganda media started to create the atmosphere that President Xi is the core of the Chinese Communist Party, and without Xi, the Chinese people would suffer and China would be doomed to perish. Finally, Xi’s followers unveiled their proposal for ending the two-term limits on the presidency. Chinese citizens who protested this motion have been promptly silenced.
Ms. Huang was arrested this month in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. Her crime was a one-minute video she made and posted online, showing a group of people pulling a man in a chair backward as they cried, “backing up.” The video was made to suggest that Mr. Xi’s move would set China back in history. With Xi working to cement himself at the core of the Chinese nation, citizens that mock or joke about his rule are facing harassment and detentions.
Just a couple days before the official gathering in Beijing, Mr. Shen, a former prosecutor in the eastern province of Anhui, was taken away from his home by about 10 policemen. His crime was criticizing the decision to end term limits on social media. The police confiscated his computer and mobile phone. Mr. Shen was questioned for over 20 hours for his “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble.”
Amid fallout from the decision to allow Xi to be president for life, censors also crack down on letters, phrases and George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Recently, at Tsinghua University, students celebrated an unofficial girls day – the day before the International Woman’s Day, and jokingly hung banners that read “Loving you has no time limits,” “If there were, they would be deleted.” The banners were swiftly removed. The images of the banners were first posted online, and then blocked permanently.
In China, the word “disagree” is banned on internet. All the interviewed delegates to the People’s Congress responded to the foreign reporters that the constitutional change would be beneficial to the stability of the nation. “The unification of the country and the rule of the party is a Chinese characteristic.” This unanimous answer cannot be “disagreed” with.
Ostensibly, the gathering of the Communist Party in Beijing is a show. The aura of conformity is merely a smokescreen to pave the way for Xi to become president for life. Like Napoleon, Xi “intended to take the whole burden upon his own shoulders.”
No doubt, Xi will end his speech with his usual cry of “Long live the Socialist Democracy with Chinese characteristics!” and after the singing of Arise, all those who do not want to be slaves, the delegates will be dismissed… back to business as usual, but now, with a president for life “unanimously” approved by show of hands. Ah… the intricacies of “Chinese democracy!”