Attack on Western values sparks fears over prospects for political reform

Beijing seen as trying to tighten ideological grip as magazine warns of avoiding 'devil's road'

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 June, 2013, 4:37am

A flagship Communist Party magazine has denounced Western values in a move seen as a further attempt by Beijing to tighten its ideological grip, triggering concerns that the prospects for political reform remain dim.

A commentary in Qiushi (Seeking Truth) yesterday said the party and the nation would lose vitality if they rigidly stuck to old thoughts. But it also warned that adopting Western ideas would push the nation into a dead end and dash hopes for realising the "Chinese dream", a phrase often used by party chief Xi Jinping .

"The party and the nation will embark on the devil's road with Western thoughts," the commentary said, adding that only socialism with Chinese characteristics could unite the Chinese people.

"Only with a strong core leadership can China be united to realise its great dreams. That core leadership is the Communist Party of China," it said.

Another party magazine, Dangjian (Party Building), said in a commentary last week that calls for constitutionalism were aimed at "abolishing the leadership of the Communist Party and overthrowing the socialist regime".

"Constitutionalism should not be our political directive and ideal," it said.

Other commentaries in the state media and other party mouthpieces even called on the government to learn from imperial practices when tackling rampant corruption.

Chen Ziming , a Beijing-based political commentator, said the recent rhetoric by party mouthpieces indicated that momentum for reform was weak.

"It is not only moving backwards to the era of former president Hu Jintao , but to the pre-1989 period," he said. "It reflects the leadership thinking that there will be progress if they can get things under control."

Guangzhou-based dissident writer Ye Du said the propaganda showed the new leadership in Beijing was more determined to tighten its grip and protect its power and status in the party and the nation.

Several key figures in the new leadership, including Xi, are the children of party elders.

"The new leadership believes they are the inheritors, and will proactively seek to tighten their control over things before they keep boiling to a level that will shake their power base," Ye said.

Also, universities have been ordered to steer clear of seven topics when teaching, including press freedom and civil rights.