Monday, February 16, 2015

In China’s Year of the Sheep, Slaughtered Lambs a Laughing Matter

China's Xi (r) with Purgemaster Wang Qishan.  Necktie jokes are off-limits.
Rachel Lu, in Foreign Policy, writes about Chinese President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on party and government graft and corruption. Personally, if I lived in a dictatorship where the top man had nearly unlimited power to decide who was or was not corrupt, I’d be utterly terrified. We are talking Soviet-style purge here, a reign of terror.

Xi’s campaign, Lu tells us, has claimed
ex-security czar and Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang, previously thought to be untouchable because of [his] position and connections.   .   . Even organizations shrouded in secrecy, like the People’s Liberation Army and the intelligence service, seem to be fair game after army leader Xu Caihou and spymaster Ma Jian became disgraced by graft charges. Nowadays hardly a week goes by without news of another high-ranking cadre being questioned by the party’s disciplinary commission by Xi’s close ally, Wang Qishan.
But Lu catches a modern-day twist to the purge: Xi’s party is so eager to cast the anti-corruption campaign as a monumental achievement that the annual Chinese New Year Gala, “the country’s most watched, most talked-about, and most analyzed television program,” will include jokes about the anti-corruption campaign’s victims.

Lu adds:
The irony — that political satire had to be commissioned by the party – has not been lost on the social media chattering class. One advertising copywriter wrote on microblogging platform Weibo, “Pushing the envelope? That’s arranged by the party.” One Internet user commented, “They are following orders from party officials when they make fun of party officials.”
Laugh, or else.

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