18.06.2015
Adapting to a “New Normal”
№2 2015 April/June
Alexander V. Lomanov

PhD in History, Deputy Director for Scientific Work, Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow).

Аffiliation

SPIN RSCI: 2960-1628
ResearcherID: B-5068-2018
SCOPUS AuthorID: 56153472700

Contacts

E-mail: [email protected]
Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences,
23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation
Tel.: +7 499 128-8974
E-mail: [email protected]

Xi Jinping Strengthens Power and Ideology for the Sake of Reforms

Many people in China and abroad in informal conversations describe Chinese President Xi Jinping as a follower of Mao Zedong’s leftist policy and, at the same time, as a successor to Deng Xiaoping’s policy of far-reaching economic reforms. Such political mixture seems impossible to foreign observers and prompts them to predict the country’s collapse or its inevitable choice between Mao-style policies and a Deng Xiaoping-style economy. At present, however, Chinese policies cannot be convincingly explained as a clash between “reformers” and “dogmatists,” as was the case in the 1980s-1990s. The history of Chinese reforms shows that a combination of seemingly incompatible components (from the point of view of the Western model of development) – a one-party political system and a competitive market economy – can be successful.

DENG’S AUTHORITARIANISM GETS A SECOND WIND

Professor Xiao Gongqin of Shanghai Normal University has proposed an interesting description of the present Chinese policies. In his view, Xi is creating “neo-authoritarianism 2.0.” The previous “version 1.0” of the early 1990s was the work of Deng Xiaoping. Both versions have similar goals – bringing the country to a point where no one would dare challenge the Chinese Communist Party’s rule, and when political stability is achieved, carrying out reforms in the interests of economic development.

The need for the version 2.0 has been prompted by the shortcomings of Deng’s model that surfaced over the last two decades. This model has ensured economic growth, but it has also begot interest groups that can increase their benefits using connections with the authorities. Xiao Gongqin believes that the conservation of this model will increase the gap between the rich and the poor, reduce the effectiveness of the public sector of the economy, provoke corrupt behavior, and allow uncontrolled spending of budget funds by functionaries.

Deng fought hard against attempts to challenge the Communist Party’s rule. After the events of 1989, he marginalized the rightwing Westernizing trend. In 1992, he dealt a blow to the opponents of reforms, who adhered to the traditional interpretation of socialist ideology, and thus paved the way to China’s “neo-authoritarianism” which means reforms carried out by an iron fist, struggle against challenges from the left and the right, emphasis on economic development, and improvement of people’s wellbeing.

The system created by Deng fostered economic growth, but its costs caused discontent and provided fertile soil for opposition sentiment. Xiao Gongqin believes that political radicals defeated by Deng have recovered strength, gained popularity and are again ready to challenge the existing order. On the one hand, the far left call for a “new cultural revolution,” condemn capitalism and propose returning to the order that existed under Mao. On the other hand, the far right are ready to organize a “Jasmine Revolution” under the slogan of freedom and democracy, demanding the introduction of a multiparty system and competitive elections. These two political programs differ in content, but have one common feature: they are both self-sufficient ideologically and present complex problems as simple slogans. Their ideas are attractive to the masses and can produce a politically mobilizing “mob effect.”

From this perspective, Xi is neither “politically left” nor “economically right.” It would be more correct to say that he continues the policy of “iron-fisted reforms.” This policy includes greater anti-corruption pressure on the bureaucracy, tighter control of the Internet, and enhanced ideological work. The authorities are trying to heed people’s sentiment and prevent radicals from using public discontent.

Two governing bodies, established by the 3rd Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee in November 2013, are institutional elements of “neo-authoritarianism.” These are the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms and the National Security Commission, both headed by Xi. Their emergence reflects two major features of “neo-authoritarianism” – continued economic reforms and comprehensive security solutions, including in regard to the Internet and culture. “State security and social stability are preconditions for reform and development,” the Chinese leader said, explaining the Plenary Session’s decision. “China is facing two pressures: internationally, the country needs to safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interests; domestically, political security and social stability should be ensured,” said Xi, adding: “The variety of predictable and unpredictable risks has been increasing remarkably.”

The Chinese leadership intends to give more freedom to the “invisible hand” of the market, without giving up the “visible hand” of power, though. The policy of assigning the decisive role to the market in allocating resources goes hand in hand with measures aimed at consolidating state power and reforming pubic administration. To create conditions for a marked improvement of the market environment, the government will have to take tough measures to overcome the resistance of interest groups that emerged under Deng Xiaoping’s authoritarian model. At the same time, it is important to prevent these processes from spilling over from the elites to the whole of society, for this can spur radical sentiment and provoke political destabilization.

Xiao Gongqin hopes that Xi’s policy will weaken radical attitudes. To this end, China will have to move from a “semi-open bureaucratic market economy to a mature market economy,” and from the current “strong state with a weak society” to a balance between them. According to the scholar, in ten to fifteen years, when radicalism subsides and the middle class strengthens, China will be able to move towards democracy on the basis of public consensus about the idea of a “middle way.” But these distant hopes go beyond Xi’s tenure, as the Chinese rules oblige him to step down as party leader in 2022, leaving it for his successor to look for ways to democratize “neo-authoritarianism 2.0.”

WHO WILL LEAD THE FEELING  OF AN ELEPHANT

The notion of “authoritarianism” is absent from the standard Chinese political lexicon, yet representatives of the ideological mainstream point to a link between large-scale reforms and efforts to strengthen stability. Han Qingxiang, Deputy Director of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee and an expert in Marxist theory, explained the essence of Xi’s “new rule” through the now vogue notion of “a new normal,” which the Chinese leader coined in 2014 with regard to the economy. Xi said that China needed to adapt to a “new normal” in the pace of growth. This “new normal” cannot be counteracted by artificially maintaining previously high growth rates: 7 percent a year, instead of the 10 percent before, will be enough for China if it carries out structural reforms to ensure sustainable economic development.

In a broader sense, Xi’s “new rule” is aimed at creating “a new normal” in all spheres of life in the country, with emphasis placed on the modernization of public administration. China has already accomplished many of the development tasks set at the beginning of the reforms. Now it is to find an answer to the difficult question of where to move further, a challenge Deng Xiaoping warned about years ago. These problems continued to concern him even after he retired in the 1990s. The “architect of reforms” foresaw an aggravation of the situation over social polarization caused by inequitable distribution, and proposed thinking in advance of ways to broaden democracy in response to citizens’ growing demand for political participation. Han believes that this stage has already come and the government should find ways to reasonably meet people’s demand for protection of their rights, democracy and social justice. The old system of a “steering government” is not fit for this. The country needs new mechanisms for joint work in local governmental bodies, party committees, enterprises, and public organizations.

The Chinese leadership is seeking to strengthen its position as the main interpreter of the policy of reforms. In May 2014, Editor-in-Chief of People’s Daily, Yang Zhenwu, wrote an article in which he proposed taking a holistic view of the reforms and, in particular, of the decisions adopted by the 3rd Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee. He said there were many unilateral approaches to this issue: some people spoke only of the role of the market but not of the need to improve the role of the government; others discussed only a mixed economy but not the creation of a modern system of state-owned enterprises; and still others only thought about how best to “divide the pie” of social wealth, but not about how to create it. Similar problems also arise in public administration reform, when the policy prioritizing the rule of law is pursued separately from the development and improvement of socialism with Chinese characteristics. This leads to a situation described in a Chinese parable about blind men and an elephant. To determine what an elephant looked like, they began to probe different parts of the elephant’s body. One of them touched a tusk and said the elephant was solid and cold. Another one touched a leg and said the elephant was like a pillar. The problem is that hidden behind biased interpretations of the reforms are political preferences, and the government can no longer establish the “right view” using former propaganda methods because in the era of the Internet and new media everyone has his own microphone.

For example, influential liberal Chinese economists lauded the decision of the 3rd Plenary Session to increase the role of the market as it was consonant with their fundamental commitment to reducing the role of the state. However, their voices angered the advocates of China’s socialist development. In October 2014, the 4th Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee adopted a decision on “major issues concerning comprehensively advancing the rule of law.” The decision sent ripples of disappointment on the Internet by reiterating the party’s primacy over the legislative mechanism. The constructive steps to strengthen the authority of the constitution, enhance professionalism and independence of the judiciary, and increase the government’s accountability, which in informal communications remained undervalued.

In response, the authorities are trying to “restore order” on the Internet and consolidate the party’s position in the information space. Nowadays officials in China speak not so much of “ideological struggle,” which implies the presence of an enemy with an alternative system of views, as of “the struggle for the public opinion” which may represent diverse but not necessarily hostile points of view. At the same time, after Xi’s speech at the National Propaganda and Ideology Work Conference in August 2013, the official media began to call on their readers “not to be afraid to show swords” in ideology.

Xi is trying to turn cadres into ideological fighters ready to actively uphold the Communist Party’s policy. Over the past decades of calm market reforms, the bureaucracy has forgotten how to do that and feels confused in the face of heated discussions on the Internet. The Chinese leader emphasizes that the elites and the nation as a whole should be more confident in themselves and their country, and this confidence should help them uphold their ideals and retain the right to a say in crucial matters. One aspect of this policy is the creation of a Chinese discursive system that would be free of “foreign dogmas” and that would allow the Chinese reality to be described without using Western clichés. For example, the Plenary Session that discussed a law reform in 2014 provoked debates about whether or not China can borrow the Western version of constitutionalism.

Simultaneously, the authorities are trying to take the edge off ideological debates and offer a compromise. In January 2013, Xi said that the pre-reform period and the period of reforms in China were closely related and that “these two periods should not be [arbitrarily] cut off one from the other – and one period should not be used to negate the other.” In other words, one cannot praise social equality under Mao Zedong to denounce the income inequality brought about by Deng’s reforms. On the other hand, one cannot use positive assessments of the reforms to criticize Mao for the troubles experienced by the country in the past, because this would erode the ruling party’s legitimacy.

Although at first glance this formula seems neutral and directed against both the left and the right, it was liberal critics who were angered by it the most in the context of disputes of the last few decades. Many of them believe that China cannot move forward until accounts are fully settled with the “cultural revolution” and Mao’s other “crimes,” above all with millions of victims of mass starvation caused by failures of the Great Leap Forward policy. Former Chinese leaders tried to circumvent these issues, creating the illusion that the settling of accounts was postponed for the future. However, Xi has made it clear that he will not allow rampant “historical nihilism” which led to the fall of the Soviet Communist Party and the collapse of the Soviet Union. This means that Beijing will never allow criticism of Mao as it may undermine the historical foundations of the Communist Party’s rule.

Deep at heart, Chinese liberals are ready to accept “neo-authoritarianism 2.0” hoping that Xi will stop the growing popularity of leftist ideas as uncompromisingly as Deng did in 1992. In reality, the slogan of “non-opposition between the two periods” implies the creation of historical synthesis, in which supporters of reforms will have to recognize China’s achievements in the 1950s-1970s and therefore Mao’s achievements in creating prerequisites for the development of modern China.

STRUGGLE WITHOUT CLASSES

In September 2014, a fierce discussion erupted in China over the country’s political system and especially the issue of class struggle. The discussion was triggered by an article written by Wang Weiguang, the president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), and entitled “There’s Nothing Wrong With Adhering to the People’s Democratic Dictatorship.”

The fundamentals of the teachings of Marx, Lenin and Mao on the state and dictatorship and dialectical relations between “democracy for the people” and “dictatorship for the enemies”, retold in simple terms, would have hardly attracted any attention if the author had not applied them to China of today. “The democratic dictatorship of the people is a wonder drug, which socialism with Chinese characteristics should never stop using,” Wang wrote. “Today our state of socialism with Chinese characteristics is going through a historical era described in the classical works of Marxism – this is an era of a deadly battle between the two perspectives, the two paths, the two destinies, the two great forces of socialism and capitalism. In this era, the class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, between socialism and capitalism, permeates all spheres of life. Class struggle cannot be extinguished either in the international sphere or inside the country. Against this international and domestic background, the people’s democratic dictatorship cannot be abandoned; it should be carried on and strengthened. Otherwise, it will be impossible to counter plans of foreign reactionary forces to Westernize, divide, privatize and capitalize China. It will be impossible to suppress internal hostile forces playing a destructive role in cooperation with foreigners. We must build and strengthen the army and security and law enforcement forces, and defend the peace, defend the people and defend socialism by means of the people’s democratic dictatorship.”

Formally, China has not abandoned the concept of class dictatorship, which still is codified in the Constitution. However, the authorities did not mention it often as they sought to build a “harmonious society” devoid of differences. Scholars followed suit and switched from analyzing struggle between classes to studying the diversity of “social strata.” Wang’s unusually straightforward judgments about “external reactionary forces” and their accomplices inside the country caused a stir in society, which was further amplified by the author’s high position and the fact that the article appeared in Hongqi Wengao (“Red Flag Manuscript”), which is published under the auspices of Qiushi (“Seeking Truth”), the main theoretical journal of the Chinese Communist Party.

Judging by the highly emotional public reaction, influential bloggers saw the article as an omen of a more active policy to “nationalize” the intellectual elite. Wang was accused of a “criminal attempt to split China with class struggle” and of trying to bring the country back to the times of the “cultural revolution,” rehabilitate Mao’s dictum that “class struggle is the key link,” and justify new repressions. However, attempts to link the CASS president to “anti-party conspiracy” of the radical left, who allegedly seek to harm Xi, looked like an outright absurdity.

Wang, previously a professor and deputy rector of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, is an authoritative exponent of mainstream views in the Chinese political ideology. In his speech in July 2014, he called for strict discipline in the Academy: “CASS is not a loose group of ‘freelancers;’ it is an important propaganda front led by the party, an important structure of science and theory, and an important basis of ideology.” It is hard to imagine that his article was an unauthorized move by a “freelancer.” Rather, it reflects tendencies that have emerged after Xi came to power: non-denunciation of Mao’s political legacy and its partial use in the interests of reforms, the revival of the authority of Marxism, and emphasis on the threat to China’s stability stemming from “external forces.”

The influential newspaper Global Times (run by the party’s main mouthpiece People’s Daily) joined in the discussion with an editorial entitled “Debate over Class Struggle Not a Political Signal.” It emphasized that “talking about class struggle is not equal to calling for it.” The newspaper targeted its criticism at proponents of Western political views who verbally oppose the class struggle thesis but in fact seek to achieve their own goals: “if there are people advocating ‘class struggle as the key link’ in China now, it is them.” The newspaper concluded that class struggle is not an outdated notion and that studying it can enrich scientific methodology and improve the understanding of social processes. At the same time, it went on, those who denounce class struggle and use it for their own purposes should rethink their view and be cautious, as it is them who stir society. If they could restrain themselves, it would help prevent an aggravation of class struggle in China.

A couple of days later, the Party School’s weekly Xuexi Shibao (“Study Times”) published an article criticizing the slogan of “class struggle as the key link.” Its author, a history professor at East China Normal University, Han Gang, had previously studied the history of the party at the Central Committee’s research department. The article said that class struggle had brought many hardships to China. They began in the 1950s, in the years of the Great Leap campaign, and peaked during the “cultural revolution.” The credit for stopping the havoc and restoring order belongs to Deng Xiaoping, who turned the country towards modernization and who promised that the main policy would not be changed for 100 years. The publication in Xuexi Shibao was viewed as a manifestation of an ideological split and the beginning of intra-party polemics.

Subsequent publications, however, were directed against those who opposed any mention of class struggle. They were criticized for pinning labels on people, that is, for using methods of the “cultural revolution.” It was argued that, when scientists discuss class struggle, there is no reason to accuse them of trying to return the country to the times of Mao Zedong. The slogan of “class struggle as the key link” is wrong, but this is no reason to attack the people’s democratic dictatorship. Attempts to justify the renunciation of the class struggle doctrine by referring to Deng’s policy were described as unfounded, as during his historic tour of southern China in 1992 the “architect of the reforms” spoke not only of the need to continue the economic reforms, but also of the importance of the dictatorship: “It is right to consolidate the people’s power by employing the force of the people’s democratic dictatorship. There is nothing wrong in that.” Wang Weiguang used the words “nothing wrong” in the title of his article as an unambiguous claim to be a successor to Deng’s ideas.

Gradually, the discussion moved from the issue of class struggle to the need to protect the political system from attacks of hostile forces which seek to impose “universal values” on China in order to change the nature of political power in the country in the interests of international capital and “internal compradors.” In early November 2014, the former head of the CPC Central Committee’s Party Literature Research Center, Pang Xianzhi, told a seminar in Beijing that the struggle between Marxism and anti-Marxism in China was not over and that, although Deng Xiaoping denounced delusions of the leftists, this thesis had been emphasized for so long that people forgot about struggle against right-wing movements. As a result, the label “left” has become pejorative and is used as a pretext for political attacks: those who speak of Marxism and revolutionary traditions are immediately labeled “left” so that they “do not dare raise their heads.” Pang called on people sharing his views to “maintain a high degree of unity with the Central Committee led by Comrade Xi Jinping,” because under the new leader the party’s work has become more determined and based on Marxist beliefs.

In late November 2014, Hongqi Wengao published an article by the former head of the Central Committee’s Organization Department, Zhang Quanjing, entitled “To Promote Red Culture and To Gain Initiatives in Ideological Work.” The article gives a remarkable classification of opponents of Chinese socialism. The first group includes open enemies of the Communist Party’s leadership and the socialist system. The second group embraces those who, dressed in “legal garb,” secretly attack the party and the political system. The third group bases its attacks on individual cases in history and reality, distorting the whole picture. And the fourth group lumps together scientific and political problems, while actually palming off “reactionary ideas.” The author writes that while some opponents lean on their own views, others receive secret support from “Western hostile forces.”

The emergence of such typology indicates heightened emotions in political discussions in China. Attacks on the official ideology worry the authorities and cause them to step up propaganda and educational work. These actions provoke negative reactions from society, which Internet users do not hide. And this, in turn, convinces the authorities of the need to use the “glittering sword” even bolder in the struggle for public opinion guidance.

CATCH UP AND OVERTAKE BROOKINGS

China’s “neo-authoritarianism 2.0” seeks to strengthen the intellectual base of its politics. Soon after Xi came to power, he proposed creating a “new type of think tanks with Chinese specifics,” which would not only provide policymaking consultancy services but would also help to enhance China’s international influence using soft power instruments. In November 2013, the 3rd Plenary Session of the CPC Central Committee set the task of “invigorating the construction of a new type of think tanks with Chinese characteristics and establishing a solid policymaking consultancy system.”

In October 2014, the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms met to discuss ways to implement this task. Xi complained that Chinese think tanks “are lagging behind developments” and that “the discrepancy problem is becoming increasingly noticeable.” First of all, China “lacks think tanks of a higher quality, of international renown and of relatively high influence.” The Chinese leader emphasized that the tasks of the reforms were becoming more and more complex and therefore they required stronger intellectual support. He recommended developing think tanks in the context of creating a system of scientific democratic policymaking, and linking these efforts with the reform of the governance mechanism. He said think tanks should adhere to the party’s leadership, grasp the correct orientation, and fully embody Chinese characteristics, Chinese styles and Chinese airs. Xi also proposed creating a comprehensive, well-coordinated system that would unite party and state structures, CASS, party schools, administrative colleges, universities, as well as military, scientific, technical, and public think tanks. In conclusion, he called for putting emphasis on the creation of think tanks of global influence and for being attentive to their professionalism.

The strategy of building up China’s “soft power” has reached a new, higher level. During the previous decade, under Hu Jintao, Beijing focused its efforts on the international promotion of the Chinese language and basic knowledge of Chinese culture. It followed the example of the British Council and the Goethe-Institut and opened hundreds of Confucius Institutes around the world. Now China has set its eyes on the Brookings Institution and RAND Corporation as new enticing models to follow. This time, however, the matter at issue is “piece goods” and the much more complex sphere – the production and dissemination of ideas.

China needs think tanks because the incumbent authorities suggest that the strategic planning of reforms should be done “from above.” The situation has become so complex that former methods of development by “walking on underwater stones” are gone to never return. The government is no longer “omniscient,” it needs professional knowledge from think tanks, which are becoming part of the public administration system. Think tanks cannot become open opponents of the authorities as they are intended to assist with policymaking and their activity is paid for by the state, as a rule.

CASS and the State Council’s Development Research Center, established at the beginning of the reforms, have made a great contribution to the formulation of the reform concept. Chinese scholars emphasize that no American think tank can compare to them in this respect. However, this does not guarantee that Chinese think tanks will automatically become world leaders. The new policy has raised many questions: How to combine competition between think tanks with their commitment to the party’s line? How to support and encourage their development? How to bring their international influence to the level of the leading American think tanks? The desire to catch up with the Americans does not imply copying them. Chinese think tanks should have an image of their own.

Chinese experts often refer to University of Pennsylvania’s report, published in January 2014, on the global development of think tanks. It says there are 6,826 think tanks in the world. The United States is leading with 1,828 think tanks, and China ranks second with 426. It would seem that this is quite an achievement for China, which corresponds to its status in global economic rankings. The real problem, however, is in acquiring the required quality – only six Chinese think tanks feature among the top 100 influential think tanks in the world, listed in the report. In fact, there are about 2,500 think tanks in China, of which 2,000 were not considered by University of Pennsylvania researchers at all.

Chinese analysts emphasize that think tanks in the U.S. are linked with various political parties and interest groups and serve to convey their positions to the authorities and society. In a one-party political system, it is believed reasonable to preserve the existing mechanisms of direct interaction between research institutions and the authorities. Chinese scholars believe that U.S. think tanks are independent in research but not in politics. For example, the Heritage Foundation supports the Republicans, while Brookings is close to the Democratic Party. China does not need polarization between ideas proposed by different think tanks, because they should serve the interests of the whole nation, not competing political forces. Equally problematic would be using the Western “revolving door” practice where high-placed officials from a party that has lost elections join think tanks and return to politics after their party wins. Apart from the fact that only one party rules in China, Chinese politicians emphasize the value of gradually accumulating experience at all levels, starting from the bottom. This approach makes irrelevant the idea of a sudden transition of think tank employees to the middle or upper echelons of the government.

Chinese think tanks compete for money from government funds, with state and semi-state organizations being in an advantageous position. This is understandable, as they are linked with the authorities and it is easier for them to obtain the required information and participate in policymaking. China has not yet developed effective mechanisms to finance private think tanks from the state budget through a competitive system of government orders. In addition, officials often are reluctant to enlist the services of private think tanks for fear that they may prove to be too independent.

This situation has a direct impact on intellectual tendencies in China. As the leading think tanks seek to win favor with the authorities and get the funding, researchers working in them naturally take the side of the ideological mainstream and distance themselves from political radicalism. Financial incentives promote voluntary stabilization and consolidation among researchers and cause them to demonstrate their professionalism and loyalty to the state. Radical ideas do not disappear, they are now voiced by “network intellectuals” who become renowned not by writing good analyses but by publishing sharp and controversial materials on the Internet.

Cheng Xiaonong, a researcher of modern China who now lives in the United States, wrote that almost all studies in social sciences in China are done for the “bosses,” therefore all universities and institutes in the country can be regarded as think tanks. The scholar wrote about his work in the 1980s in a group of economists close to then-Premier and General Secretary of the Communist Party Zhao Ziyang. Things were different then: analysts did not hesitate to criticize the authorities’ decisions. For example, this group opposed the theory of “complex balance” in the planned economy, proposed by then-influential conservative politician Chen Yun. This was possible only due to rivalry within the Chinese leadership and the rise of the social movement before the tragic events of 1989. The Chinese authorities now do everything possible to prevent a recurrence of such a situation. Realizing this, Cheng wrote that China should first change its political system and only then create think tanks of a democratic state, so that researchers do not have to worry that they may offend the president and lose their jobs.

The Chinese authorities view the situation differently. They have set the task of developing think tanks to cope with new challenges in the process of reforms and prevent the change of the political system. The processes of professionalization, “nationalization” and re-ideologization of the intellectual elite are developing in parallel. At the beginning of the year, CASS, a think tank of international renown, established the Academy of Marxism, which will admit a hundred talented young doctoral candidates every year, who will later form the core of a new generation of researchers of Marxist theory. Researchers are provided with comfortable conditions for work, paid high salaries, and offered help with buying new housing and arranging for their children’s education. At the same time, they are often reminded that they must be on the side of the party and the people. In June 2014, addressing the personnel of a CASS institute, Zhang Yingwei, the head of the Discipline Inspection Group sent to CASS by the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and a member of the party members’ group of CASS, criticized scientists for “putting on a cloak of academia, creating a smokescreen; creating cross-border concocted sophistry via the Internet; entering into illicit collusion during a sensitive period; and accepting infiltration by foreign forces.”

Although the authorities demand that CASS scholars not turn into “freelancers” and “network intellectuals,” this does not mean that they should keep away from the Internet. What they should not do is indulging in self-promotion or trying to increase their own popularity. People’s Daily wrote that under the guidance of the CASS party organization, researchers in their articles, books, lectures, interviews, and blogs should criticize Western “constitutional democracy,” “universal values,” “civil society,” neoliberalism, “historical nihilism” and other erroneous ideas, thus helping the people and the whole of society separate truth from falsehood.

Xi Jinping’s policy is aimed at ensuring continued reforms. Major changes are planned in the economy and public administration. But ideological liberalization is not on the agenda. On the contrary, the ruling party seeks to strengthen its control over public opinion, leaving no room for spontaneous growth of opposition sentiment. The intensification of ideological and theoretical work is accompanied by serious efforts to create a professional and efficient mechanism for providing policymaking consultancy services by think tanks.