Cracks appear in Xi Jinping's control over the Chinese Communist Party | The end of China

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A former professor at China’s elite Central Party School has issued an unprecedented rebuke of the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, accusing him of “killing a country” and claiming that many more want out of the ruling Chinese Communist party.

Cai Xia, a prominent professor who taught at the school, a higher education institution for top officials, was expelled from the party on Monday 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”.

The comments from someone once firmly part of the establishment – several of China’s leaders such as Mao Zedong and Hu Jintao, as well as Xi were head of the Central Party School – are remarkable and potentially dangerous for the Chinese leadership. Cai is the latest prominent public intellectual to be punished for criticising Xi.

Cai initially spoke to the Guardian in June after the recording was first released. On that occasion she went further in her denunciation of Xi, blaming him for making China “an enemy” of the world, in comments that will reverberate across the party and the country, where such public criticism from within the party establishment is extremely rare.

She said 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. 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, according to Cai.

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.

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.

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