China minister warns against seduction of values by Western nations

BEIJING (Reuters) - Western countries are trying to push their culture and political values onto others, seducing them into abandoning their own, China’s propaganda chief warned on Friday, saying the country must follow its own path.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has overseen a sweeping crackdown against civil society since assuming office five years ago, tightening control over society, media and the internet.

Xi has pledged to promote what the ruling Communist Party refers to as core socialist values, which stress patriotism, Chinese traditional culture, rule of law, harmony and prosperity among others.

Huang Kunming, who was appointed to the post following last month’s key party congress at which Xi further cemented his grip on power, wrote in the official People’s Daily that there was an intensifying “surge and collision” in the world between different values.

“There are especially some Western countries who use their technological advantages and dominance of discourse that they have accumulated over a long period to peddle so-called ‘universal values’,” he wrote.

Such countries, which Huang did not name, “are trying to seduce people into ‘beautifying the West’ and ‘being compliant with the West,’ weakening or even abandoning their identification with their own spiritual culture,” he added.

China’s special cultural traditions, unique historical destiny and national situation mean it has to protect its own values rooted in its culture, Huang said.

Only by promoting core socialist values can the Chinese people stand tall in the “forest of the world’s people”, he added.

China has long railed against those it says try to impose Western concepts on the country, such as competitive multi-party democracy or the separation of powers, and the Communist Party brooks no challenge to its power.

On the eve of the party congress, state news agency Xinhua attacked Western democracy as divisive and confrontational.

China’s constitution enshrines the party’s long-term “leading” role in government, though it allows the existence of various other political parties under what is called a “multi-party cooperation system”. But all are subservient to the Communist Party.

Activists who call for pluralism are regularly jailed and criticism of China’s authoritarian system silenced.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez