Strike Hard

The death of communist ideology is practically a truism these days–perpetual purchasing has taken the place of perpetual revolution. So It’s interesting to see how the trappings of a simpler, more idealistically pure time snuggle up with the flash, bang, wow of modern life.

One example that constantly rouses my sense of disconnect is the persistence of government sponsored campaigns. One that caught my eye recently is this year’s “strike hard” campaign.

Starting back in June and lasting for 7 months the government is ramping up law enforcement. The list of targeted crimes includes all the expected violent offences and human trafficking but also extends to “telecom fraud” for good measure.

Apparently this entails a massive extension of police powers and expedited judicial decisions. Given the already questionable state of China’s legal integrity I can only imagine the level to which judge, jury, and executioner are conflated.

I’m all for catching crooks, but these sorts of things seem more like pandering than real police work. A headline from the People’s Daily during a previous “strike hard” campaign in 2001 reads “Beijing Leaders Visit Show on ‘Strike Hard’ Achievements.” Was there champagne? triumphal music? Giant Inflatable Pandas?

This year’s “strike hard” is just the most recent of a venerable franchise. The People’s Daily says it is the latest of 4 since 1983, but some casual searching has turned up quite a few crack-downs given the “strike hard” title.

The result of “Strike Hard” is an array of juicy show trials and the opportunity for the government to feel a sense of accomplishment. The number of arrests made, guns seized, and drugs destroyed is carefully tallied. Prostitutes, gangs, and generally anything deviant sounding are highlighted. A spate of children murdered at kindergartens by deranged men early this year was sited as one reason for this year’s campaign.

That the manufactured absurdity doesn’t register with whoever orchestrates these things or that people could actually be swayed by such transparent pandering seems absurd to my western eyes. If this is the way the party chooses to advertise itself, I’m buying from the competition. But I guess I’m not the target audience.

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