BEIJING (Reuters) - China must build defenses against “erroneous” ideas involving Western-style democracy, a top government official said in comments published on Sunday, shooting down recent calls by dissidents for political reform.
China’s ruling Communist Party has stepped up efforts to stifle dissent and protest ahead of politically sensitive anniversaries this year, and amid concerns that rising unemployment in a slowing economy could fuel broad social unrest.
Jia Qinglin, China’s fourth-most senior official, demanded officials throw their weight behind the one-party state in an essay in the Party’s main ideological journal “Seeking Truth” (Qiushi), which was reproduced on major web portals on Sunday.
“Build a line of defense to resist Western two-party and multi-party systems, bicameral legislature, the separation of powers and other kinds of erroneous ideological interferences,” said Jia, who is also head of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a largely toothless parliamentary advisory body.
“Consciously abide by the Party’s political discipline and resolutely safeguard the Party’s centralized unity,” Jia said, calling on CPPCC members to strengthen “ideological unity.”
The essay comes weeks after hundreds of scholars, dissidents and former Party officials signed “Charter 08,” a petition campaign calling for open democratic elections and an independent judiciary.
Authorities have since detained prominent Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo and other rights activists over the manifesto, and earlier this month launched a crackdown on Internet pornography and other “vulgar” online content.
China’s Communist Party leadership faces a number of politically sensitive anniversaries this year, including the 20th anniversary of the brutal crushing of student-led pro-democracy protests centered on Tiananmen Square in June, 1989.
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Valerie Lee