Are ‘Whisperings’ in China the Beginning of a Backlash Against the Cult of Xi?

Are ‘Whisperings’ in China the Beginning of a Backlash Against the Cult of Xi?
Chinese President Xi Jinping leaves after addressing a joint press conference with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa at the government’s Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa, July 24, 2018 (AP photo by Themba Hadebe).

Editor’s Note: China Note is WPR’s new China newsletter. Every week, WPR’s newsletter and engagement editor, Benjamin Wilhelm, curates the top news and analysis from China written by the experts who follow it.

In China, anyone who strays from the Communist Party line assumes a precarious position. Take rights activist and retired economics professor Sun Wenguang. Last Wednesday, the noted critic of the Chinese government appeared on Issues & Opinions, a Mandarin-language program for Voice of America, to do a telephone interview. His segment, however, featured several surprise guests when Chinese security officials broke into Sun’s house in Jinan, in eastern China, and shut the interview down.

After criticizing China’s development projects in Africa in front of the security officials, Sun can be heard on audiotapes exclaiming, “What are you doing? Let me tell you, it’s illegal for you to come to my home... I have my freedom of speech!” With that, the phone connection was lost.

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