Gao Zihao | Bitter Winter
He was accused of being ineffective and dishonest, and practicing “superstitious activities” himself.
On August 17, 2021, the Chinese Communist Party(CCP)’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection informed that it had expelled Peng Bo from the Party. The decision was taken “with the approval of the Central Committee of the CCP.” Peng Bo is the former deputy director of the Office of the Leading Group for Prevention and Handling of Xie Jiao Issues, i.e., one of the top bureaucrats involved in the repression of religious movements banned and included in the list of the xie jiao, a word the CCP itself translates into English as “cults” or “evil cults,” but whose meaning is “heterodox teachings.”
CCP bureaucrats rise and fell continuously, but it is not common that press releases are issued, the approval of the Central Committee is mentioned, and detailed explanations are added. In the case of Peng Bo, the press release states that, “After investigation, it was found that Peng Bo’s ideals and beliefs collapsed, he was not loyal to the Party, deviated from the Party Central Committee’s decisions and deployment of online public opinion struggles, abandoned the management of the Internet position, used public equipment for private purposes, relied on the Internet only to fight the Internet, resisted organizational censorship, and engaged in superstitious activities. He violated the spirit of the eight central regulations, visited private clubs in violation of regulations, participated in public banquets in violation of regulations; reported personal matters in violation of regulations; had no disciplinary bottom line, engaged in illegal power and money transactions, and sought benefits for relatives’ business activities; took advantage of his position to benefit others’ business operations and allow other parties to make profits, and illegally received huge amounts of property.”
Peng Bo, the document concludes, “severely violated the CCP’s political discipline, organizational discipline, integrity discipline, work discipline, and life discipline, was guilty of serious job violations, and was suspected of taking bribes.” He was expelled from the CCP, his properties were confiscated, and his file was transferred to the Procuratorate for criminal prosecution. Likely, he will end up in jail.
It is not uncommon for anti-xie-jiao bureaucrats to take bribes, appropriate properties seized from the xie jiao for their private benefit or transfer them to their relatives and friends, and exhibit a lavish lifestyle that is less and less tolerated under Xi Jinping’s appeals to sobriety.
However, what is interesting in the case of Peng Bo is that he was accused of not being able of stopping xie jiao online propaganda, and of “engaging in superstitious activities” himself. The fact that Peng was at the same time one of the highest ranking anti-xie-jiao crusaders, and the deputy director of the Cyberspace Administration of China, shows that one of the main reasons the CCP wants a tighter control of the Internet is that it is used in clever ways by banned religious groups such as Falun Gong and The Church of Almighty God. Peng is accused of “relying on the Internet only to fight the Internet,” which is obviously regarded as not good enough. The CCP wants that those disseminating xie jiao contents on the Internet are identified and arrested.
As for “engaging in superstitious activities,” netizens in China have been surprised that an anti-xie-jiao bureaucrat had been the victim of such an accusation. “But in fact this is not surprising, a source close to the central anti-xie-jiao office told Bitter Winter, many of these bureaucrats by fighting ‘superstition’ get interested in it, and start asking themselves ‘What if these things worked?’ They would certainly not join Falun Gong, but would start collecting books about qigong, feng shui, or divination, and perhaps visit themselves and even protect some esoteric master.”
We assume Peng Bo’s successors will be more careful.