Visitors walk past Communist party flags at the Museum of the Community Party of China in Beijing. (AP Photo)
Op-Ed

China Weakens Itself by Suppressing Civil Society and Independent Voices

March 9, 2023

EXCERPT

Chinese leaders aspire to global economic, political, and even spiritual leadership. But unless the Chinese Communist Party relaxes its suffocating restrictions on civil society, Chinese citizens won’t be able to fulfill their creative and human potential. Without independent assessments of the utility and moral integrity of its policies, no government can understand its errors and make changes, and keep its own power in check.

Free access to information strengthens society, but in 2017, Chinese leader Xi Jinping explained that “the [CCP] manages the media by putting all media at all levels under the leadership of the party.” 

Censorship disadvantages the Chinese people in comparison to their counterparts in democratic societies. They are deprived of full access to scientific facts, historical and social scientific research, and the humanistic contributions and political debates that broaden our thinking and allow informed reflection on the challenges and possibilities of life in society.  Instead, most of the Chinese people have access only to what the state allows.  All public information and opinion are shaped in ways that putatively ensure the stability of the regime, not reflecting the objective reality of events.

Aaron Rhodes is a senior fellow at Common Sense Society and president of the Forum for Religious Freedom-Europe. Cheryl Yu is a senior researcher in China and human rights at Common Sense Society.

Originally published in Radio Free Asia.

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