A retired Chinese professor at China’s elite Central Party School has accused President Xi Jinping of “killing a country”, revealing that the leader is facing widespread opposition within his own party.
Cai Xia, who had taught democratic politics at the school, was expelled from the party after an audio recording of remarks she made that were critical of Xi was leaked online in June. She is no longer in China.
The school said in a notice that Cai, a professor at the party school since 1992, had made comments that “damaged the country’s reputation” and were full of “serious political problems”.
However, in an interview, Cai said that she was “happy to be expelled”.
“Under the regime of Xi, the Chinese Communist party is not a force for progress for China. In fact, it is an obstacle to China’s progress,” she said.
“I believe I am not the only one who wants to leave this party. More people would like to withdraw or quit this party. I had intended to quit the party years ago when there was no more room to speak and my voice was completely blocked,” she added.
She is the third prominent figure in recent months to be disciplined after criticising the country’s government and its leader.
Cai further went on to say that there was widespread opposition within the party but few dared to speak out, afraid of political retaliation in the form of internal party discipline and corruption charges.
According to her, in this environment, Xi’s “unchecked power” and hold on all major decision-making had led to inevitable mistakes such as in the handling of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Beijing has blamed the suppression of information about the outbreak in Wuhan on local officials. Chinese health officials said on 20 January that the virus was contagious, weeks after it had emerged in December. But a speech published by the party magazine Qiushi showed that Xi met the politburo and gave instructions on the needed virus response on 7 January, almost two weeks before the public was warned.
“If he knew on 7 January, why did it take until 20 January to announce the outbreak? In other words, the fact that people were concealing the news from him is the result of the system,” said Cai.
“But when he knew the situation on 7 January, he did not make it public or mobilise resources. So shouldn’t he bear responsibility?”, she asked.
Cai, who said she had wanted to leave the party since 2016, also blamed the country’s international problems on Xi.
“When no one can oppose him, that means that his power is unlimited,” she said.
“He has made the world an enemy. At home, all these big issues are left to him to decide. In other words, whether it is a domestic or international issue, it is very difficult for others to restrict him. It is inevitable that his judgment and decisions will be mistaken.
“It is a vicious cycle. After a wrong decision is made, the result is not good. But those below are too afraid to tell him and wrong decisions continue to be made until the situation is out of control. In this vicious cycle, there is no way to stop the country from sliding towards disaster,” she said.
Cai said she believed that discontent within the party was widespread, especially among her generation as well as among middle and higher-level officials who came up through the party during China’s reform era under Deng Xiaoping, and later as China fully integrated into the global economy following its entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001.
“Those within the party have experienced the last 20, 30 years and they understand which direction is right and which is a dead end,” she said. “We are among a group of cadres who started in our posts after reform and opening. So that is why I say everyone is very clear about what is happening.”
China has cracked down on dissent in recent years. In July, a law professor at Beijing’s Tsinghua University who criticised Xi and the party was detained by police and then fired. The professor, Xu Zhangrun, is seeking to clear his name by overturning a prostitution charge brought against him by police.
Also, Ren Zhiqiang, who had been the influential chairman of a state property company, was ousted from the Communist Party after he called Xi a ‘clown’.