AUSTRALIAN CENTRE ON CHINA IN THE WORLD - 2015
Xi Jinping’s rule to date has been characterised by, among other
things, a return to the basics of Party rule as established by Mao.
These include a renewed emphasis on United Front 统战 work, which Mao
called one of the ‘three secret weapons’ 三个大法宝 (along with the armed
forces and Party-building) that helped the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
to power in 1949. (For an overview of the United Front, see the China
Story Yearbook 2014: Shared Destiny, pp.128–132.) The year 2015 was the
most important one since 1990 for the United Front, a collection of
strategies overseen by the United Front Work Department (UFWD) 统战部 by
which the Party seeks to strengthen its authority and legitimacy,
especially among the more marginalised, independent, and minority
sectors of the Chinese population.
Today, these include professionals such as lawyers, business
managers, and ‘new capitalists’—whose co-operation is crucial for the
success of China’s new economic policies—as well as historic United
Front targets like religious believers and ethnic minorities including
Tibetans and Uyghurs. The children of China’s nouveau riche are another
relatively new focus along with Chinese studying overseas. Xi had
previously stressed the importance of United Front work among Overseas
Chinese, huaqiao 华侨, a category that now includes Chinese citizens
living abroad (so-called ‘new huaqiao’).