BEIJING (Reuters) – Members of China’s ruling Communist Party have a duty to follow orders from the central leadership lest the country stray into anarchy, the country’s top newspaper wrote on Friday, warning against those who put themselves above the party.
President Xi Jinping has amassed power since taking office five years ago, tightening party control over all aspects of life and locking up rights activists and dissidents on subversion charges.
Xi has also gone after competing power bases by jailing opponents for corruption, including the powerful former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang and the popular one-time party boss of Chongqing, Bo Xilai.
The party under Xi’s leadership has repeatedly warned that it will not tolerate dissenting voices, and the official People’s Daily struck a firm note in pressing home that message against a phenomenon it termed “de-centralism”.
“De-centralism is a way of thinking and behaving where each goes their own way, with only freedom and no discipline, only thinking of acting alone and ignoring everyone else,” the paper wrote in a commentary.
“It is an extreme expression of individualism, and in its essence it’s anarchy,” it added.
The government has previously accused some of its disgraced former top officials, including Zhou and Bo, of seeking to establish “independent kingdoms”. Both men are currently serving life terms for corruption.
Bo was well-known for his populist policies, including a high-profile crackdown on organised crime, investments in flashy infrastructure projects and quasi-Maoist practices like organising mass sing-alongs praising the party.
Chongqing, one of China’s most important cities and located in the country’s southwest, has remained a hotbed of intrigue. Another former party boss, Sun Zhengcai, is currently awaiting trial in his own corruption scandal. He too is accused of paying lip service to orders from Beijing.
The People’s Daily said that some party officials were too “free and undisciplined” in their thinking.
“Add to that is the encroachment of individualism, hedonism and the worship of money. A small number of these people slip into the morass of de-centralism and cannot extract themselves,” it said.
Party members must do as they are told, as that is the only way to guarantee the authority of the central leadership, the paper added.
(This story has been refiled to fix typo paragraph two)
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry)