søndag 4. mars 2018

Xi Jinping’s power play: from president to China’s new dictator?

Yao Shuping has understood the perils of one-man rule ever since teenage fanatics came for her mother in the summer of 1966.It was “Red August”, and as Chairman Mao plunged China into a decade of carnage, Red Guards stormed He Dinghua’s home, ransacking the apartment, shearing off her hair and pummelling her with a nail-studded plank. Finally, they slit the housewife’s throat, condemning her to the mortuary of Beijing’s Number Six People’s Hospital where, days later, her daughter found her corpse as it was carted off for cremation.

“She left this world … her feet bare and blue, her heart filled with terror,” Yao, then 26, recalled in a written account of her mother’s ordeal at the start of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. “It never once occurred to her that she would be sent to her death by the ruthless struggle launched by the great man she worshipped.”

Memories of those murderous years have resurfaced with the shock announcement that China’s current leader, Xi Jinping, is seeking to set himself up as ruler for life by abolishing presidential term limits. These rules were written into China’s constitution in 1982 – six years after Mao’s death – precisely to guard against the kind of personality-led lunacy that destroyed Yao’s family, and so many others.