In China, Signs of 'Absolute Political Totalitarianism'

Citizens face up to 3 years in prison for mocking national heroes
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 2, 2021 9:40 AM CDT
In China, Signs of 'Absolute Political Totalitarianism'
An employee wearing a face mask and a shield to help curb the spread of the coronavirus stands watch near a billboard bearing the words "Glorious cause, Communist Party of China," on display outside a museum in Beijing on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

There's a rumor that the son of Chinese Marxist leader Mao Zedong was killed in a US airstrike during the Korean War because he lit a stove to make fried rice. Referring to that rumor, a man wrote online last month that "that fried rice was the best thing to come out of the whole Korean War." And for that, he was arrested. He's not the only one. In March, shortly before its 100th anniversary in July, China's Communist Party, long known for quelling dissent, amended a law making it a criminal offense to discuss what "were once subjects of historical debate and research, including Mao's rule itself up to a point," reports the New York Times.

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) gives 10 examples of questions that, if voiced, could warrant up to three years in prison on a charge of slandering the country's martyrs and heroes. These include: "During World War II, did the Communist Party avoid confronting the Japanese army directly?" and "Was the Korean War not fought in self-defense?," in addition to questions about Mao's son giving away his position, per China Digital Times. The law—accompanied by hotlines for citizens to report violations, the Guardian reported in April—has already been used "at least 15 times to punish slights to party history," per the NY Times.

The CAC oversaw the banning of comics site Baozou (one of its comics inspired the Netflix film Next Gen) from social media site Weibo in 2018 over a video that appeared to mock Communist Party war hero Dong Cunrui, per the Verge. But this new law allows for individual persecution. For instance, a 27-year-old woman was sentenced last month to seven months behind bars for suggesting that misogynistic men view themselves as Dong Cunrui, per the NY Times. Others have reportedly been arrested for mocking a scientist who developed high-yield rice strains, in what Chinese political analyst Wu Qiang sees as "a sign of the establishment of an absolute political totalitarianism." (The party is also cracking down on celebrity culture.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.