China wants to push itself into the future while also maintaining the status quo. Such contradictions are not only a quality of the population but of its leaders. President Xi Jinping recently called for greater tolerance of “well-intentioned” online criticism against officials and government activities, marking a small opening after his national press tour requesting absolute “loyalty” to the party.
Xi’s words, however, were censored. Excess of zeal? Xi also promised “to accept online criticism of the Communist Party, the government and officials, as long as they are ‘well-intentioned,’ no matter how unpleasant they may be to hear.”
Hours after these statements, Xinhua, the state news press agency, began to post the salient points of the speech on its Weibo account, but those who clicked on the comments section of the post got a message saying the article is closed to comment, according to the English-language Hong Kong daily, the South China Morning Post.
This is not the first short circuit in the Chinese censorship machine. Years ago, then Prime Minister Wen Jiabao traveled to the United States and mentioned the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, implying some openness about those events from the Communist Party. Even then, his statements abroad were blatantly censored at home.