“This united front work has been happening all along, and so this wasn’t out of the blue, but this time it’s clearer and more systematic,” he said.
That party officials would need to hear such a warning suggests how much China has changed politically since Mr. Xi came to power in 2012, vowing to revive the party and reinvigorate state-owned companies.
Over 30 years earlier, Deng’s generation of reformist leaders revived the private sector that Mao had largely snuffed out. In the next decades, China’s entrepreneurs grew into prosperous capitalists, such as Li Shufu, who started a small business making refrigerator parts and then motorcycle parts. He now owns Volvo Cars and has a sizable stake in mighty Daimler of Germany.
But China’s entrepreneurial class attracted suspicion from some party officials as it grew. After he came to power, Mr. Xi started a ferocious anticorruption drive that left many business owners wary of dealing with government officials. His robust rhetoric about the importance of the state sector and party dominance increasingly worried business leaders.
After business confidence shrank, Mr. Xi sought to reassure Chinese business owners in 2018 through a series of meetings and policy concessions. The latest pronouncements appear to be intended to reinforce those assurances, said Zhu Ning, a deputy dean of the Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance.
“It’s probably a real, reassuring message to private enterprises,” he said. “This is to say, ‘No, no, no, you are still part of us.’”