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China Reform Monitor - No. 1319

Official propaganda hits the silver screen;
New anti-corruption commission takes shape

Edited by Joshua Eisenman
March 8, 2018

February 8:

Controls on rural land and housing rights will be "moderately relaxed" so people who move to cities can lease their land and/or homes, according to the Number 1 policy document released by the Office of the Leading Small Group on the Rural Work led by Wang Yang,
the official The Paper reports. The short-term objective is to encourage people to urbanize while maintaining an income stream from their rural rental property. About 60 percent of China's population is urban, and more urbanization is central to the government's growth plans, which include the development of large-scale agriculture. "If this round of land reform turns out to be successful, it will change the landscape of rural China greatly in terms of forms of employment, agricultural organization and even social structures," said Dan Wang of the Economist Intelligence Unit in comments carried by Reuters. But, Wang warned, if farmland is appropriated for industrial use reforms intended to revive rural agriculture and ease poverty would be undermined.

February 13:

China will select 5,000 movie theaters to screen propaganda films and boost their bottom lines with group sales, discounted tickets and other support,
the Japan Times reports. A recent notice issued by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television said Beijing would promote specific movies to create a "people's theater front," that will "guide thought and educate the people." The Communist Party promotes patriotic productions and exercises control over scripts and shooting permits. To subsidize domestic productions, authorities limit the number of foreign films that can be shown, and routinely manipulate ticket sales and movie release dates. China, the world's second-biggest film market, saw movie ticket sales rise 13.5 percent last year to more than $8.6 billion. Domestic movies, led by the nationalistic action thriller "Wolf Warrior 2," made up 54 percent of ticket sales.

February 14:

Due to overcrowding, Qincheng prison – where former high-ranking officials above the rank of vice-minister are jailed – has cancelled visits and associated meals for all inmates for two weeks before and after the Lunar New Year. The prison had allowed inmates over 60 to have a New Year's meal in jail with a few family members. But with nearly 100 new "tigers" in residence – including Zhou Yongkang, Bo Xilai and his former deputy Wang Lijun, and ex-railways minister Liu Zhijun – the jail is at full capacity for the first time since the Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s. There are now more than 20 people per block, up from six before the crackdown,
the South China Morning Post reports. Qincheng is the only jail in China run by the Ministry of Public Security, not the Ministry of Justice.

The National People's Congress (NPC) will approve the National Supervision Commission, a new "super-ministry" on par with the State Council and military commission, intended to institutionalize President Xi Jinping's war on graft. The new ministry will extend the campaign to all public-sector employees (e.g., leaders at state schools, hospitals, institutes and companies) and to non-party members. In Tianjin, for instance, those under supervision will jump from 90,000 to 600,000. Jiang Mingan at Peking University said that the party leadership does not believe suspects should be protected by criminal procedure law and legal counsel: "There are two goals for the supervision law, one is to strengthen anti-corruption, the second is to standardize the commission's behavior and prevent abuses. As I understand it, more needs to be done for the second goal." In 2013, a court found five anti-corruption officials guilty of torture after they drowned a suspect while attempting to extract a confession,
Reuters reports.

February 25:

China is revising the oath of allegiance to the Constitution taken by officials. According to a draft revision (here in English) submitted to the NPC Standing Committee, the last phrase will be changed into "to work for a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful",
reports Xinhua.  Zhang Yong, vice-chair of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee, said members of all local level supervisory commissions and those of the planned National Supervisory Commission will also be required to take the oath, and that all oath takers must also sing the national anthem. Senior NPC deputies have said the pledge is important to "the advancement of the rule of law," Singapore's Straits Times reports

Related Categories: China; China and East Asia Program

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