‘He killed a party and a country’: a Chinese insider hits out at Xi Jinping
For years, Cai Xia, a former professor at China’s elite Central Party School, has watched the ruling Communist party decay from the inside. Now she is out.
On Monday she was expelled from the party, two months after an audio recording of her describing the country’s leader, Xi Jinping, as a “mafia boss” was leaked online.
In an interview with the Guardian in June, Cai went even further in her denunciation of Xi, discussing what she considered to be his mistakes as a leader and why she believed a democratic transition would take place one day. Then she asked that her comments not be published because of threats that she and her family had received.
Now that she has been expelled and is outside of China, Cai says she is free to speak. “My speech is free from any constraints. Now I am responsible only for my own conscience and principles,” she told the Guardian on Tuesday.
The following is an edited transcript of the June interview, Cai’s first after the audio recording was published.
Q: In your speech you said Xi forced through the amendment of China’s constitution to abolish term limits in 2018, giving him the ability to stay in power indefinitely. Why was that such a turning point?
He forced the third plenum of the national congress to swallow it like dog shit. He first completed it and then forced everyone to accept it. This is obviously going backwards politically. Even with these two major issues, no one came forward to oppose it.
That shows that the Communist party of China has become a political zombie. The party has no ability to correct errors. So he singlehandedly killed a party and a country, showing that even when confronted with such a major question of altering the constitution, the party has no power to stop him.
Q: What do you mean he killed a party and a country?
When no one can oppose him, that means that his power is unchecked. Under the Chinese system, starting with Mao, no one can restrict or limit the power of the highest leader. That is why you had disasters like the Cultural Revolution.
Q: Do you think a disaster like the Cultural Revolution could happen again?
Not just something like the Cultural Revolution. You can see the confrontation between China and the United States. He has made the world an enemy. At home, all these big issues are left to him to decide. Whether it is a domestic or international issue, it is very difficult for others to restrict him. It is inevitable that his judgment and decisions will be mistaken.
Q: What benefit is there to making China an enemy of the world? Why would he do that?
There are several factors. Among them is that he wants to consolidate his own position and authority. Considering domestic economic and social tensions, as well as those in the party of the last few years, he will think of ways to divert the attention of the Chinese public, provoking conflict with other countries, for example encouraging anti-American sentiment and the recent clash between China and India.
Q: Why is it inevitable that he would make mistakes?
Because of the power he holds, he can punish whoever he wants so no one dares to give him different opinions and no one dares to report the real situation to him. Since people don’t tell him the truth or hide it from him, he doesn’t necessarily know the truth. So it is inevitable that he will make wrong decisions.
It is a vicious cycle. After a wrong decision is made, the result is not good. But those below are too afraid to tell him and wrong decisions continue to be made until the situation is out of control. In this vicious cycle, there is no way to stop the country from sliding toward disaster.
Q: In what ways is the country moving toward disaster?
Because people cannot speak the truth, Wuhan’s epidemic spread across the country and the whole world and everyone has been harmed. Chinese citizens have borne the brunt and among Chinese people, people in Wuhan suffered the most.
We have so many people dead, including people like Li Wenliang who should not have died. About the number of deaths, up to now China has not even said a real death number. Actually, the disaster for Chinese people has already begun. There is large-scale unemployment, soaring commodity prices, and the people at the bottom cannot survive.
Q: So you think the epidemic started because Xi did not receive the real information?
At the beginning he did not get the real news, but he said in a meeting on 7 January that the situation was under his personal command. If he knew on 7 January, why did it take until 20 January to announce the outbreak? Officials at all levels hide the truth and report only when they cannot cover up any more. But when he knew the situation on 7 January, he did not make it public or mobilise resources. So shouldn’t he bear responsibility?
Q: Why do you think the party has no power to stop Xi?
The system itself has meant that many party members and cadres have corruption issues. Therefore if you are not clean, you don’t dare object. Secondly, even if you are not corrupt, he will make up corruption charges. If he says you are corrupt, you are corrupt.
Third, the disciplinary code for party members [adopted in 2016] contain a measure that says you cannot distort the policies of the party. As long as you express a different opinion, you are in violation of party discipline, and he can use that to deal with you. Before, you could still speak out and you would be subjected to enormous pressure, but they couldn’t prevent you from speaking.
Q: You said in your remarks that many people in the party “know what is going on in their hearts” and that there must be reform. How common is this view?
I think within the CCP 70%, and among middle- and high-level officials the proportion may be even higher. For many of these cadres, their thinking was most deeply affected by the reform era under Deng Xiaoping. When China joined the World Trade Organization [in 2001], we fully entered the global economy.
Those within the party have experienced the last 20, 30 years and they understand in which direction is right and which is a dead end. We are among a group of cadres who took up our positions after reform and opening. So that is why I say everyone is very clear about what is happening.
Q: You said that after changing the constitution to abolish term limits, the Chinese Communist party (CCP) would die a death without a burial. What do you mean by that?
China is bound to go through political transformation, toward democracy, political freedom, rule of law and constitutionalism. This is the inevitable trend of modern human political civilisation. China will enter this stage sooner or later.
Because the CCP has been in power since 1949, they have made many mistakes and even crimes. Between 1959 to 1961, nearly 40 million people starved to death. The anti-rightist movement of 1957 and the Cultural Revolution hurt almost all Chinese elites and intellectuals. Also the Tiananmen protests in 1989 when the CCP used its army to shoot the people. No matter what, this is unacceptable to Chinese people. It is the People’s Liberation Army, right? It is the people’s country.
Yet we see corruption within the party and the growing gap between the rich and the poor. In the future when China transitions to a democracy, all of these will be seen as the major mistakes or the sin of the CCP.
Q: Why are you so sure China will go through this democratic transition?
Sooner or later we must go in this direction. Democracy, freedom and the rule of law, are the most basic values and expectations of human. People yearn for freedom and freedom is only possible when people’s rights are protected, right? To protect these rights you need a system based on democracy and rule of law. Only when human rights are protected, can people be free, and freedom is human nature.
Q: When do you think this could happen?
I am not a fortune teller. I can only say that this trend is inevitable. History is long and within that five, 10 years is nothing, even 100 years is short, passing by almost in a flash.
Q: You say that civil society in China has been destroyed. What can people who want to push for change do?
Now it is completely impossible for people to organise. WeChat groups are shut down every day. The CCP is using epidemic prevention as an excuse to increase high-tech surveillance of people. They can imprison you for any little thing.
So the first is to knock down the Great Fire Wall and topple the information blockade. Once more people know what is really going on, you can’t stop them and everyone will want to speak out. Actually, I think the international community can do more to fight China’s authoritarian system in terms of human rights by pushing for the first and most basic human right – freedom of speech.
Q: What about on an individual basis? What can people do?
Everyone should work to get real news and information. Do not let yourselves be deceived and do not lie to yourselves. This is very important. As long as there is real information, people will begin thinking.
Secondly, everyone must defend their right to speak and use whatever ways possible to express their opinions. If everyone can defend their own rights, if every person can speak for themselves, overcome fear, defend their rights and express themselves – when each of us can be human beings and not slaves to compromise – then social change will happen as quickly as is possible.
By Lily Kuo
Chinese professor Cai Xia calls CCP ‘political zombie,’ Xi ‘mafia boss’
Audio has surfaced from a former professor of China’s Central Party School in which she described the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as a “political zombie” and Chairman Xi Jinping as a “mafia boss” that will drive the country’s economy into “complete collapse” if he is not ousted.
On June 3, an audio recording of retired Central Party School professor Cai Xia appeared on YouTube. China Digital Times confirmed the veracity of the recording and translated the transcript into English on June 12.
Although she never mentions him by name, Cai makes it clear from the beginning that the individual she is referring to is Xi. She says that China’s political system is broken and must be abandoned because Xi has turned CCP members into his personal minions.
She asserts that the revision of China’s constitution at the Plenum Session of the 18th National Congress in 2018 illustrates why the CCP is a “political zombie.” She pointed out that not a single party member dared to oppose Xi’s motion to remove term limits, adding that it was like “stuffing dogshit down their throats.”
Cai describes Xi’s control of “the knife handle” (police) and “gun barrel” (military) as his keys to power. She added that the CCP’s own major faults — internal corruption, lack of human rights, nonexistent legal protections — paralyze the organization and tighten his grip on power.
The professor points out that Xi has converted CCP members into his own “slaves” and “tools” to be used for his own personal gain. When he finds the CCP useful, he makes use of it; when he no longer has need of a party member, he can label them corrupt and dispose of them, said Cai.
She then claims that Xi has become a “mafia moss” who can punish party members for any perceived infraction. Like zombies, Cai says that party members only march in lockstep and that no one dares challenge Xi.
A key first step to resolving the situation in her opinion would be to replace Xi. However, even though the Central Standing Committee meetings are supposed to be situations in which the majority makes the decisions, Cai laments that Xi prevents any sort of consensus from being built against him.
Cai believes that if Xi is removed from power, “the external environment will start to relax.” She said that if China could depose Xi, foreign nations would see that it was “moving in a different direction,” and external tensions could be alleviated.
Instead of continuing to implement policies, she called on China to take a step back and stop repressing its citizens. She called on the government to “stop deleting WeChat accounts, stop punishing speech.”
Due to deteriorating conditions on the ground, Cai said that many wealthy Chinese have fled the country with their assets. As a result, she said China is now left with “blood-sucking red elitists” and poor working-class people who have no means of escape.
She called for an end to “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics,” which she described as “nonsense.” She pointed out that the tenets of these theories do “not even make sense logically” and that the CCP and Chinese people have become the “laughing stock of the world.”
Cai blamed Xi for shattering Chinese society “into scattered sand” and turning the country into a police state that is monitoring its society to “the point of death.” She urged Xi to “step down with dignity” to enable the country to “correct past mistakes and set things right.”
The professor warned that “if we don’t get rid of this person” the political system will go into free fall and the society will disintegrate. She predicted that by the end of this year or by the first half of next year, “the economy will completely collapse.”
However, Cai predicted that economic collapse would not be sufficient to lead to an overthrow of Xi “because there is still money to squander.” She suggested that once Beijing’s coffers finally empty out and domestic conflict reaches a boiling point, Xi may face a reckoning.
Cai closed by predicting that China will undergo another “period of major chaos” with an uncertain ending. She warned that such a chaotic situation could breed “ruthless characters,” as seen in previous unstable periods of Chinese history.
By Keoni Everington, Taiwan News
TRANSLATION: FORMER PARTY PROFESSOR CALLS CCP A “POLITICAL ZOMBIE”
Two major issues–ones that we must dig up from the root–can help explain how we got to where we are today. The first is our system, and the other is our theory. From the perspective of the system, Xueqin [historian Zhu Xueqin] said a long time ago: the system used by Mao Zedong to engage in the Cultural Revolution was used by Deng Xiaoping to carry out reforms. After reform and opening up, the market economy was used as a technical tactic to rapidly grow the economy.
But the market economy that we are talking about is two-tiered, one is the factor market and the other is the commodity market. Reforms involving factor markets have, to this day, not really moved forward. Therefore, the commodity market that you have cannot be a real commodity market economy. Prices are always controlled and resources are always monopolized because the factor market has not reformed. Why? It has to do with power.
So we have not solved the [main] problem—that is, our system. With this system, we’ve made it to where we are today, we’ve chosen this individual [ruler]—or, I should say, those at the top propped such a person up to the leadership position. What does this tell us? This tells us that this system is going nowhere. It is useless to try and change it. Fundamentally speaking, this system must be abandoned. As for the reform we are talking about, it is no longer about changing within the framework of the current system. This is my primary point. Some people might think when they hear this that we will need to fight a revolution once we abandon this system. That is not the case. This is my first point.
The second point is that our theory is fundamentally problematic. Putting aside whether it was correct or not for the Chinese Communist Party to have accepted Marxism-Leninism at the outset–this we are not yet discussing. The fact is, much of this theoretical stuff needs to be uprooted. Let’s say, for example, that at the time of our 4000-person congress, if Deng Xiaoping hadn’t stopped the Party from reflecting on the Cultural Revolution—not only politically denying it but also theoretically abandoning it—then we wouldn’t still be here trying to reverse the verdict on the Cultural Revolution.
Because the thing about politics is that it changes over time, it can be overturned one way, and then the other. But if you dig out the theory from its roots, destroying the ideological foundation underneath, then it would be very difficult for this Cultural Revolution business to come back. I therefore feel that, since reform and opening up, we have not solved these two most fundamental problems. One is the system, and the other is the theory. So what do we do now? My personal opinion, how should I put this… If we were to talk about the situation, we should start from the revision of the constitution. From that we would be able to see that the Party is actually already a political zombie.
The constitutional amendment is clearly illegal in terms of internal Party procedures. He took the [last] Plenum Session of the 18th National Congress of the CCP hostage. Two days before the [final plenary] session, he rushed to throw out the term limit system. He forced everyone at the [plenum] to swallow the revision like he was stuffing dogshit down their throats. So many Central Committee members were at the session, yet not one dared to raise this issue.
So, the Party itself is already a political zombie. And this one person, a central leader who has grasped the knife handle [police apparatus], the gun barrel [military], and faults within the system itself—that is: one, corruption among the officials; and two, the lack of human rights and legal protection for Party members and cadres. With these two grasped in his hands, he has turned 90 million Party members into slaves, tools to be used for his personal advantage. When he needs it, he uses the Party. When he doesn’t need it, Party members are no longer treated as Party members. He can easily put you somewhere and label you as a corrupt official.
Just take a look at our current situation, at those leading Party cadres who have been dealt with by the National Supervisory Committee recently. I’m not judging whether these people are guilty or not, but that even if they were innocent they will be charged with something. What’s more, the system itself has already corrupted many. The problem is that you should at least check those charges against existing national laws and Party regulations to find out what actions count as violations, and only punish people based on that. Those that are stipulated by national laws—for example, if the crime can be punished under the criminal code—then you can say that so and so has been guilty of this or that crime. Nowadays, not supporting the real economy is a crime, being defiant against the Party is a crime, being dishonest towards the Party is a crime. Where is rule of law? What kind of political party is this? He has become a total mafia boss who can punish his underlings however he wants. That’s why I say that this Party is already a political zombie.
In the current state of affairs, it is impossible for anyone to remedy this dangerous situation, not to mention that he [Xi] is determined to continue down this path until the end. No matter who speaks, it won’t work. I’ve thought about this problem. When he first came to power, he both covertly and overtly wanted to fan his personality cult in order to improve his prestige. But it didn’t work. Sister [Ma] Xiaoli, you may remember, in May of 2016, there was that performance planned at the Great Hall of the People. You took the lead and resisted, and the whole thing blew up. The performance was then halted.
Next, see what happened in November of 2016? Defiance against the Party was put into the Party disciplinary code of the Sixth Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee. After that, the “four consciousnesses” were made into a part of correct political speech, what we call standard political speech. What “four self-confidences,” “four consciousnesses,” and “two maintenances?” Especially the “two maintenances,” about the whole Party revolving around one person. Can you even still call this a political party? It is no longer a political party, and hasn’t been one for a long time. It is just a tool in the hands of a mafia boss.
Therefore, this party has become a political zombie. Right now, it is impossible for anyone to come forward and to change it. If it is possible to replace the person, that would be the first step. I think the best solution is of course to replace the person. As a matter of urgency, I think that is the first step. But you can see what he is doing now: holding military power in his hand, holding the entire Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission and the police in his hands. Putting everyone under surveillance using high-tech tools. Who can come out and say “let’s solve this problem”? It’s impossible. Even at the Central Standing Committee meetings, we say majority rule, but does the majority actually rule? No.
That’s why I think with this current situation, if [there is majority rule] that would, of course, be a good thing. Let me start by saying that if there is a collective resolution from the Standing Committee, with the minority obeying the majority, that you are not doing a good job, that you can’t lead 90 million party members and 1.4 billion people to a dead end to be buried with you, that is not okay. With that said, if these people in the Standing Committee still have a sense of responsibility to the Party, and to the country and the people, then I think these seven Standing Committee members should meet to make a resolution, and just change the person in power. In fact, by changing the person in power, the external environment will start to relax, because this is a signal, telling the outside world that we are moving in a different direction. As long as this person is still in charge, that environment will only get worse, it will not ease up on us. But if you change the person in power, external tensions will then be capable of being alleviated, because you would then have done a thing that shows that you are able to turn around without having to say a word. This would, I think, be the best thing to happen.
But does any member of the Standing Committee have that sense of responsibility to the Party and people? No. Right now, these people can’t even be considered politicians, I think they are just slaves under the command of one person. Of course, my words might suggest that the likes of Wang Yang and Li Keqiang are also included. Actually, they are in a tough spot.
They have been doing whatever they can in their positions to minimize losses and alleviate the crisis, we’ve all seen this. In terms of the Party, I wonder whether–be it retired senior cadres or current Standing Committee members–it can rise up once again for the sake of this country and its people and make a majority resolution to ask this person to step down? Save face, resign from duty, and retire. Don’t intervene anymore. Then, our Party may turn things back around. If this person doesn’t go, then our Party has no chance.
This is the first point I wanted to make. That is, as long as we replace him, external pressure will be eased. Second, if replacing him is a possibility, then right now we shouldn’t be thinking about how to move forward, but rather we should prioritize what to stop doing, what are the things we should not continue. We don’t need to implement new policies, we just want you to stop. For example, we should stop deleting WeChat accounts, stop punishing speech. You can stop doing these things, right? This is how I see this.
Take entrepreneurs as another example, jailing them at the drop of a hat. Not to even mention the arrest of Ren Zhiqiang, the two leaders of Alashan were also arrested. Dong Guoqiang has disappeared for days, and there has been no news at all. They then arrested Qian Xiaohua just a few days ago. On what grounds was this done? It is easy for you to arrest someone, but you have scared away a large group of entrepreneurs. That’s why what we see now is that very few Chinese private enterprises still talk about making money, everyone is first and foremost concerned about their safety. To protect their livelihoods, those who have the means to flee outside of China and move their assets offshore have already done so. Those with money have already left, those who are capable have left. What are we left with? We are left with just the blood-sucking red elitists and a large number of poor working people who would never have the means to emigrate. That’s why I think these are the only two groups of people left here, everyone who can leave has already left. Is there still hope for this country? There is no hope.
That’s why I say that after his removal, we just need to stop [these absurd policies], it’s not about what we need to do going forward. We need to correct past mistakes and set things right–this is a step we must take. Just like when the Cultural Revolution ended, we corrected past mistakes and set things right. But the clean-up this time has to be done from the root. We must completely abandon the theories of the so-called New Era of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. They are nonsense. For something that does not even make sense logically nor read with any sense of flow, it is preposterous that we are making the entire Party study them as if they were some kind of a divine text. I am saying all this with disdain. But we simply cannot be blind to the fact that the Party, this enormous Party, and the country is using these lies to indoctrinate 90 million Party members, and hold 1.4 billion Chinese people hostage. It has let Chinese people become the laughing stock of the world, with its 7 billion people laughing at the so-called members of the Chinese Communist Party.
This is a sign, presented before the whole world, indicating that the Party is moribund. I believe we must correct our mistakes and set things right. If there are a few things that we can do, the following are some that can actually be done quite easily. Because we have to believe that the vast majority of Party members know in their hearts what is right and what is wrong. They have had no choice but to go along with him. I have been thinking about the Party’s political zombies, why is it that officials nowadays are always talking about “required actions”? What “voluntary actions”? No one can perform “voluntary actions.” Everyone is performing “required actions.” Why? Because of the notion that one must toe the line and remain completely loyal. As a result, no Party members or cadres dare to make policies based on local realities. How can you when they can easily find a pretext to label you as disloyal, or defiant of the Party. The Party and the country have been put to death.
That’s why I think Party members know what is going on in their hearts. As soon as we ask that person to step down with dignity, we can correct past mistakes and set things right. There should be no resistance from within the Party. In Mao’s era, quite a few senior Party comrades needed to be persuaded, but that’s not the case now. Everyone knows in their hearts what’s going on. The key is whether our high-ranking officials have the political courage to be accountable to the Party and the people. Whether they have the courage to take that step.
We are just here talking. We are talking because we have no power to change the system. We can only entertain ourselves, and say things that make us feel better, and that is all, isn’t that right?
Because right now society can’t be counted on, he’s already atomized the entire Chinese society into scattered sand. All of civil society and the capacity for self-organization have been shattered. Running the country with the police, violently monitoring the people. Society itself is at the point of death.
Under the current circumstances, the person who comes into power would without a doubt be a devil incarnate, a ruthless character. That’s why I think we still need to talk about whether these people in the Party are capable of saving themselves, of redeeming themselves. I think this is the case. [In terms of] what we are saying about abandoning the system, and about China using the term “reform” to move forward, then hope still lies in the large number of mid and upper-rank members of our Party, or those within the Party, so to speak, because you cannot count on the bottom rung of society. This is what I want to say. If we have this person replaced, what are the things we need to do, what are the things we need to stop doing. *
The fact is, Chinese society is not without vitality. It’s not that we lack energy or talented people. Society is being devastated, the ability to think is being devastated, the Party is being devastated. If this threat can be lifted, I believe everything will get better. Just like in 1976, after Mao’s passing, many believed that was the end for China, yet we’ve come through. That’s why we need to believe in this nation—it is resilient and alive. However, the problem is that this person has blocked the path forward for the country and the Party.
With this current situation, If we don’t get rid of this person, we will witness the political system in free fall. We will wait for a hard landing, for society to collapse, and then start over. I think there is a large likelihood that that is going to happen. I personally think that by the end of this year, or the first half of next year, the economy will completely collapse. When that time comes, we will see what becomes of this country. Although we are feeling a lot of external pressure at this moment, he can probably still weather the storm for a while, because there is still money to squander. But when there is no more money to squander, when he can no longer bear it, when domestic conflicts boil over, then we shall see.
So I think during the lifetime of our generation, within five years, we will witness China go through another period of major chaos. It is difficult to tell how this chaos will end. Chaos breeds ruthless characters. And then we’ll walk that former path all over again.
So much misfortune for the Chinese people. Maybe it’s fate.
By Cai Xia
Translation by Digital Times