The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General-Secretary Xi Jinping’s big moment is here. He is getting where every Communist in power wants to reach- a Stalinist ‘Great Purge’ which involves curbing dissent and bringing down or killing those who refuse to abide by the leader’s line. And this is the perfect opportunity for Jinping to purge. He is facing allegations of ‘killing’ the country, from within the CCP, and also a mutiny-like scenario in the PLA.
China’s ‘Great Purge’ might have already started with the Wall Street Journal quoting a senior Jinping ally as saying that it was time to “turn the blade inwards and scrape the poison off the bone”. Xi Jinping’s proponents call this purge an “anti-corruption campaign”. Recently, 21 judicial and police officials were put to an investigation, while dozens were also removed.
Xi Jinping is purging anyone who seems like a challenge to his political hegemony. A senior Shanghai police official being investigated for ‘corruption’, for example, has no charges of financial impropriety and all he is accused of “serious violations of party discipline and law”.
How great a Communist leader the incumbent CCP General-Secretary turns out to be is essentially depended upon the number of people he purges because this is how Communism works. And with rising anti-Xi Jinping sentiment in China, both within and outside the CCP over the Pandemic, China’s many wars, vagrancy and artificial floods, dissent from local authorities and signs of mutiny in the PLA, Jinping has the perfect opportunity to purge as many officials as he wants.
Communism has a great affinity for purges- the biggest of them, of course, being Stalin’s Great Purge of the 1930s when one of the greatest Communist political dictators ever born had executed an estimated 7,50,000 dissenters between 1936 and 1938. Yet another million had ended up at forced labour camps known as Gulags.
Stalin’s bloody, ruthless ‘Great Purge’ was a way of sealing his position after Lenin’s death in 1924. Stalin believed that anyone having ties to Stalin’s Bolsheviks was a dissenter and therefore was supposed to go (read ‘die’).
The Chinese Communist Party has had its share of purges, with the earliest one getting orchestrated by Mao Zedong, the CCP founder who killed or purged the most amongst all Chinese Communist leaders till date and therefore remains the greatest Chinese Communist till date.
Mao Zedong had launched the 1942 ‘Yan’an rectification campaign’, which mandated that only those could stay within the CCP who could ‘unify their thinking’ and toe to Mao’s line.
Xi Jinping himself orchestrated a big purge after coming to power. During the first five years of his tenure as the CCP General-Secretary, a mind-boggling 1.34 million officials were targeted as a part of Jinping’s massive “anti-corruption campaign”. And this is only the official Chinese data, which tends to be grossly underreported.
Among those who were disciplined or punished was Sun Zhengcai, one of the most popular politicians in China tipped to be Jinping’s successor. Jinping does not want rivals within the party and therefore Zhengcai was handed a life sentence as a part of Jinping’s “anti-corruption” campaign.
A brutal purging campaign was launched within the PLA too and several high-profile Generals were taken down and investigations were launched against 13,000 officers. Fang Fenghui, a former PLA Joint Staff chief too was handed a life sentence on the same corruption charges.
However, Xi Jinping is escalating things even further now. According to Financial Times, officials within China have now insisted that Xi Jinping’s “anti-corruption” drive must channel the spirit of the “Yan’an rectification movement”. Wu Qiang, a Beijing-based independent political commentator said, “It’s preparation to establish Xi’s total authority over the party.”
Xi Jinping has already ended term limits on his post as the CCP General-Secretary. Now, it is being believed that he might ultimately assume the title of CCP Chairman which hasn’t been taken by anyone since Mao. Ling Li, a scholar of Chinese politics at the University of Vienna said, “The title would provide a mechanism to extend Xi’s tenure because there [has been] no term limit set for party chairmanship in the past.”
Cai Xia, a professor at China’s Central Party School that trains CCP officials is one of those who were purged by Jinping’s ruthless regime. Fortunately, Xia managed to migrate out of China. Dissecting, Jinping’s upcoming ‘Great Purge’ she said, “Eventually he will have purged everyone and put in place new people, but after a time he won’t trust them either.” She added, “That’s the psychosis of being the highest leader in an authoritarian system.”
Xi Jinping wants to be a great Communist leader, maybe even bigger than Mao and for that, he needs a Stalinist-styled campaign. It seems that the process has already started. As long as Jinping stays in power, he will keep purging everyone who seems like a dissenter within the CCP, PLA, local bodies, police and the judiciary.