As CMP director Qian Gang made clear yesterday in his analysis of the emerging leadership phrase “public opinion struggle,” or yulun douzheng (舆论斗争), these are politically turbulent times in China. We must keep a careful eye on developments, and Chinese media offer us some of the most revealing glimpses.

Yesterday, again, we have another important sign — the first open criticism of constitutionalism in the Party’s official People’s Daily since the anti-constitutionalism wave began last spring.

Readers may remember Qian Gang’s analysis on September 2 in which he showed that the attack on constitutionalism had not yet reached core official Party media. While there were important pieces appearing online, and in less representative (of the central leadership) publications like the overseas edition of the People’s Daily, nothing had yet appeared in either the People’s Daily or the Party journal Seeking Truth.

That has now changed. In a piece called “Leaders Must Enhance the Strength of Their Political Convictions” (领导干部必须增强政治定力) run in yesterday’s edition of the People’s Daily, Yuan Chunqing (袁纯清), the top leader of Shanxi province, directly criticized liberalism, democratic socialism, universal values and “Western constitutionalism and democracy.” These ideas, he said, “are wrong ideas intended to throw China off the track of socialism and break it away from the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.”

Yuan Chunqing
Shanxi province Party Secretary Yuan Chunqing, the man who now has the dubious honor of bringing the CCP’s “struggle” against constitutionalism formally into the Party’s flagship People’s Daily

The term I have translated “political conviction” is zhengzhi dingli (政治定力). In his piece, Yuan defined it this way:

So-called political conviction is the throwing out in one’s ideas and politics of various interferences, and the elimination of various perplexities, so that one can uphold the correct position and has the ability to maintain a correct orientation. . . A leader’s political conviction is principally expressed in his unshakable faith in Marxism and communism, and his determination to struggle against various incorrect ideas.

And there it is again, the spooky new reference to the “struggle” in the ideological sphere.