An essay written by China’s former premier has been perceived as a veiled critique of President Xi Jinping. In the essay, Wen Jiabao, who served as China’s Premier of the State Council from 2003 to 2013, called for ‘fairness and justice.’ Jack Ma who is close to Wen Jiabao has been under immense pressure from Chinese President Xi Jinping. Ever since Ma dissented against the CCP market regulations, Ma’s fortune and those of the Ant Group have taken a downturn. Jiabao’s son is one of the investors in Alibaba, using the connection it seems Jack Ma is flexing some of his political muscles.
What former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao wrote in the article, has ignited debate on the mainland about President Xi Jinping’s leadership style, that China should be a nation that upholds equity, justice, and humanity.
“In my mind, China should be a country of fairness and justice. It should always respect humanity, people’s hearts and the nature of human beings. It should always have youthfulness, freedom and a fighting spirit,” Wen wrote in the fourth article published last Thursday.
Wen made the comments in a four-part series published in the Macao-based Jornal Orientacao de Macau between late March and this month. The majority of the series honours Wen’s mother, Yang Zhiyun, who died last December, with the former premier explaining how Yang’s teachings influenced him and how he used them during his 28 years in China’s top power circle.
The article has prompted some on the mainland to reflect on how far the country has strayed from Wen’s vision, with some suggesting that the series be featured on the front page of the state-run People’s Daily newspaper. Some internet users say that the articles have already been removed from the mainland social media website WeChat.
According to Hong Kong-based commentator Willy Lam, the mention of independence may have violated mainland censorship laws. Wen’s papers, on the other hand, did not seem to be a political threat to Xi Jinping’s leadership, partially because the former premier no longer had any real political influence, according to Lam. The papers were strangely published in the Macao weekly, but Lam speculated that this was done to avoid any comparisons with an assault on Xi’s governance style.
Another veteran China columnist, Johnny Lau, told Apple Daily that it was too early to say whether Wen’s articles were linked to any real political movement to challenge Xi Jinping because the former premier’s views did not align with mainland public opinion. He said it was also unclear whether further related papers or political moves would follow.
Wen was a relatively liberal leader among China’s top leaders, and the ideals he explored in his article mirrored the views of former President Hu Jintao, for whom Wen served as the premier. Moreover, his connection to Jack Ma and given that his son was arrested in 2018, Jiabao seems to have criticised the Chinese President.
Jack Ma and Ant Group’s fortunes took a giant hit when the CCP blocked the IPO of the Ant Group. Since the group has been regulated and fined for violating Anti-trust laws and the pressure became so immense that Ma went into hiding. But since his return, while Ma has been quiet about the whole incident, he has emerged at a lot of places with people which could influence Jinping’s domestic fortunes such as Russian President Vladimir Putin.
With Wen Jiabao at his side, Jack Ma has finally started to hit back at Xi Jinping in a signal that this battle is not over yet.
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