A friend from China keeps up with some of the news without qualifying as a China watcher or commentator. The word is that a group of lawyers were visibly promoting liberal reforms before Xi Jinping came to power but they have been quiet on that front lately. Among that group were eight professors from the leading law schools who last year wrote an open letter deploring the activities of the Beijing local government authorities for the way they are implementing the national “clean the streets program”.
The background is that people are not supposed to live and work in Beijing without a permit but the system is porous and at any time people could move in from the country and hope for the best as street vendors, like the man who cut my hair last year and another who re-soled my shoes for next to nothing. At last report they are gone. The implementation of the cleanup is left to the initiative of local authorities down to the level of individual policemen and city inspectors. They are in a position to do what they like which can include battery of traders and destruction of their stalls and equipment. Not to mention demanding bribes to avert battery and sabotage.
The professors pointed out that these activities defied the rule of law and property rights which call for clear definitions of what activities are permitted and what are not, and allow for appeals against corrupt local officials. Good luck with that, you might way, it is bad enough in the western democracies when regulators and anti-capitalist public agencies take the bit between their teeth.
Parallel to the rehabilitation of Marx in the west there is full court press in China to promote not only Marx but also Mao Zedong. State TV ran a hagiographic documentary on the life of Marx, senior ranks of public employees did a week of training in the thoughts of Marx and just this year or last there were significant changes in school textbooks to make Mao more of a hero replacing what used to be said (in guarded terms) about the Great Leap Forward and some of the excesses of the Cultural Revolution.