The Winter Olympics will soon bring the spotlight back to Beijing. The contrast will be striking with the conquering celebrations of the 2008 Summer Olympics in the same city. The authorities, however, wanted to repeat their coup. Under the rule of supreme leader Xi Jinping, in power since 2012, the ambition was to display the strength, even the superiority of the Chinese development model. But the Covid-19 pandemic will keep the thousands of participants under wraps. Exchanges with the population will be almost nil. The “zero Covid” strategy will add to the obsessive control the Communist Party exercises over society. The country has indeed fallen into the clutches of a dictatorial regime which intends to reign over everything and everyone, including minds.
Censorship, electronic surveillance via artificial intelligence, social credit rewarding or penalizing the inhabitants, indoctrination, patriotic re-education … Xi Jinping wants to pull the country on a forced march towards an uncontested superpower status and to reconnect it with a past presented as glorious. He took direct control of the main levers of power, reasserted the Communist Party in an absolute leadership role, hardened Marxist ideology while cultivating nationalism, and suppressed all dissent. Civil society is blocked, the media are muzzled, cyberspace is crisscrossed by snitches, references to human rights or democracy are considered subversive and hunted down. The “Chinese dream” he invokes, the rebirth of a nation heir to a grandiose multi-thousand-year-old civilization, is only achievable, according to him, if China masters its base of references and pushes back the values of a West only he wants to supplant and discredit.
This iron will also applies to religions, explains a recent work on the subject (1). Claude Meyer, its author, shows that Xi Jinping intends to “sinise” Christianity, assimilated to Western imperialism. Here too, the Communist Party is responsible for taking control. Its monopoly must be exercised over spirits, even souls. Its role is to “Guide the adaptation of religions to Chinese socialist society”. Since 2018, each of those officially recognized has had to adopt a five-year adaptation plan “Chinese characteristics”. For Christianity, a project for a new annotated “translation” of the Bible aims to make it theologically more in line with the fundamentals of the regime. Claude Meyer describes a demiurge Communist Party which would have to meet the spiritual needs of the people and of“Root out faith in God to replace it with faith in the Party”. Oppression towards Muslim Uyghurs and Tibetan Buddhists goes as far as planning the eradication of their culture.
Happy observation: this relentless strategy does not seem to meet the expected success. Religions are showing resilience, even resistance, and Claude Meyer does not hesitate to consider that in 2030, China will be the country with the largest number of Christians in the world! Even more elusive than the Covid, the spiritual spark does not want to be extinguished.