China’s domestic security forces are three-metres strong. But they are facing one of the biggest purges in recent history. It has been incoming as Xi Jinping is increasingly cracking down on officials who are corrupt or deemed ‘insufficiently loyal’ to the party and its leader. Jinping is coming down hard and fast on the dissenters. After ridding Jack Ma of his influence majorly due to his close ties with Jiang Zemin and CCP’s rebellious Shanghai faction, Jinping is consolidating control by systematically purging those who do not have sufficient loyalty not just towards the CCP but towards Xi himself as he feels threatened that his power might be waning.
On February 27, the Communist Party announced the launch of a long-awaited purge of its ranks. It will entail “turning the knife-blade inward” to gouge out anyone considered corrupt or insufficiently loyal to the party and its leader, Xi Jinping. After more than eight years of Xi’s dictatorial rule, the party appears to be questioning whether a key pillar of its power is fully trustworthy.
The Chinese state-controlled media has termed it as an action reminiscent of the period of the early 1940s. To consolidate his power, Mao staged a sweeping and ruthless purge of the party’s ranks. The party tried to clear the “dense miasma” covering the security apparatus, cure it of “chronic illness,” and keep it a “surnamed Party,” as many heads were severed.
It is surprising that such a campaign is considered reasonable. Xi took over as China’s leader in 2012 and immediately launched the country’s biggest anti-corruption campaign in decades. Hundreds of thousands of officials, including prominent people with security backgrounds, were sentenced to prison.
In recent months, the party’s anti-corruption body has arrested many high-ranking security officials. The sacking of Gong Doan, the former Shanghai police chief and one of the city’s deputy mayors, was the most famous among them. At the beginning of 2020, he became the third police officer with a rank equal to that of a vice-minister to be investigated. Gong’s job was taken away from him the next month.
On March 1, the Chinese government revealed that he had been arrested on charges of power abuse, corruption and a failure to adhere to party lines and that his case had been referred to prosecutors.
During the forthcoming purge, such allegations would almost certainly be levelled at more police chiefs. According to an official report from a meeting of party bosses that kicked off the nationwide campaign, security agency allegiance “directly affects the party’s place at the helm of state and the continuation of political unity.”
But Xi’s purge of the security forces is not just aimed at those who do not adhere to party lines. He has been cracking down on dissenters and opposition especially those who were becoming too big for the party, cue Jack Ma.
Alibaba Chief Jack Ma owes his success in totality to former Chinese President Jiang Zemin, who, under the ‘Three Represents’ principle allowed the private sector to hop on the driving seat and play a crucial role in the rise of China. It was under Zemin’s rule that Jack Ma made it to the Chinese Communist Party ranks, a development whose mere thought before Jiang Zemin’s presidentship would have been considered sacrilegious.
Since Jack Ma’s infamous speech criticising the CCP’s grip on the market, Xi Jinping has brought the hammer down on him and the Ant Group. The ordeal led to Jack Ma’s disappearance and ultimately a big chunk of his wealth dissolved into thin air and he no longer remains the richest man in China.
Jack Ma owes his success to former President Jiang Zemin and his foul mouthing of CCP policies underlined where his loyalties lie making him the biggest target for Xi Jinping to quell any opposition to his leadership.
Xi Jinping is consolidating power. His feud with Jack Ma and now the massive purge underlines that Xi is threatened that he might lose control of the CCP chairmanship and thus needs to quell any opposition.
Jinping has been putting down a simmering rebellion within the CCP, led by Jiang Zemin and his family. Jack Ma’s downfall was precipitated by his proximity to Jiang’s family and his notorious outburst against the CCP.
The purge will once again underline Jinping’s rule with an iron fist as he hounds the domestic security forces for their commitment not just to the party but to Xi himself. Any failure to do so will result in disciplinary action and dissenters will be charged under Chinese law. With Jinping’s Mao-era reforms to consolidate power, China will again witness several heads severed as the Chinese President aims to quell opposition and dissent however low it might just be.