KUALA LUMPUR: More than 10 people were reportedly missing after a letter, whose authorship remains unclear, calling for President Xi Jinping’s resignation was published by Chinese news portal’s publication on the eve of China’s legislative session in early March.
Signed by “Loyal Communist Party members,” it criticized Mr. Xi for excessively centralizing power, paralyzing the bureaucracy with his anticorruption campaign, for an adventurous foreign policy and for insufficient attention to China’s economic slowdown. It has triggered a hunt for those responsible, in a sign of Beijing’s anxiety over bubbling dissent within the Communist Party, according to the Wall Street Journal, Sunday .
“Since then, at least four managers and editors with Wujie Media—whose news website published the missive, and owned by the government—and about 10 people from a related company providing technical support have gone missing, according to their friends and associates, who say the disappearances are linked to a government probe into the letter,” it said.
“Wujie Media hasn’t published any original news content since mid-March, while its social-media accounts have also gone silent. Many among its more than 100 employees worry that the company may soon be shut down, according to a Wujie employee and two people familiar with the situation,” the paper reported.
Asked about the letter this month, the State Council Information Office, an arm of China’s cabinet, said on its official Twitter account: “Never heard of that. Such gossips are meaningless.”
Analysts said the incident highlights the party’s concerns over the letter and a broader pushback against Mr. Xi’s domineering style of leadership.
According to WSJ, since taking office three years ago, Mr. Xi has concentrated more power in his hands than his recent predecessors, upending the consensus-driven, collective leadership that prevailed for two decades. In recent months, the effort to unify the party and the country behind Mr. Xi has intensified.
Mr. Xi has increasingly called on officials, academics and journalists to demonstrate allegiance to the central leadership, while the party commission that led a crackdown on corruption has widened its purview to enforce discipline on the rank and file. State media and other outlets have stepped up portrayals of Mr. Xi as a strong and caring leader, it added.