Chinese authorities are mounting a crackdown after an extraordinary letter surfaced on a Chinese Government website calling for the resignation of President Xi Jinping.
The open letter, signed by "loyal communist party members", has triggered a fierce response from Chinese authorities.
At least 20 people have so far been arrested and family members have being detained in a campaign of intimidation.
By Chinese standards, it is an explosive letter; openly calling for the President's resignation is unprecedented.
This is inhumane and barbarous. They're like bandits carrying out kidnapping.
Chinese blogger Wen Yunchao
And the suggestion that the letter has come from within the Chinese Communist Party is totally unacceptable.
The letter emerged on the government-backed Wujie News website earlier this month, but it is not clear who wrote it or whether party officials were involved in the letter.
It accuses Mr Xi of being a dictator and also of major economic and diplomatic blunders.
Authorities have mounted an extensive hunt for the authors, arresting at least 14 people from Wujie News including its top editors. Their friends and associates say they have gone missing in recent days.
Dissidents' relatives detained
Wen Yunchao, a Chinese dissident based in the United States, has been caught up in the crackdown.
"The authorities sense two crisis out of this letter: the first one is Xi feels a crisis about his own control and power, and the other is crisis of growing dissent within government," Mr Wen said.
Mr Wen has been accused of spreading the letter online, and last week his mother, father and younger brother went missing from their homes in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong. Since then, he has not been able to contact them.
"This is inhumane and barbarous. They're like bandits carrying out kidnapping," he said.
We're calling for the Government to immediately stop harassment or detaining anyone who is connected to this letter.
Amnesty International researcher William Nee
"This open letter has no nothing to do with my parents and my brother. And I am not involved in writing or publishing it."
Mr Wen said Chinese authorities were trying to force a confession and extract information from him.
"They threatened to abolish my brother's job. They intended to make me admit that I was involved in this case. Of course I can't accept that."
Prominent writer Jia Jia has also gone missing. He was accused of being involved with the letter and detained by Chinese police at Beijing Airport on his way to Hong Kong on March 15. He was released last Friday.
Meanwhile, another overseas Chinese dissident Chang Ping has just had three family members detained in China.
Amnesty International's China researcher William Nee said this latest harassment has hit a new low.
"We're calling for the Government to immediately stop harassment or detaining anyone who is connected to this letter, especially people who are family members of people who have commented on the letter from overseas," Mr Nee said.
"This goes against international law and standards and makes a mockery that China is ruled according to the law."
Since Xi Jinping came became President three years ago, he has concentrated power in his own hands and led a wide-scale crackdown on dissent, including jailing journalists, human right activists and lawyers.
The full text of the letter in English:
Hello Comrade Xi Jinping,
We are loyal Communist Party members. On the occasion of the national "Two Sessions", we write this letter asking you to resign from all Party and state leadership positions. We make this request out of consideration for the Party cause, out of consideration for the nation and its people — and also out of consideration for your personal safety and that of your family.
Comrade Xi Jinping, since your election as General Secretary at the Party's 18th National Congress, your determination to fight corruption by "beating tigers" has led to some improvement in the unhealthy tendency of internal Party corruption. Your personal leadership on several Central Leading Groups working towards comprehensive reform, as well as the great amount of work you've made on economic development, has received some public support, and these efforts have not been unnoticed by us.
However, Comrade Xi Jinping, we have no choice but to point out that, precisely due to your gathering of all power into your own hands and making decisions directly, we are now facing unprecedented problems and crises in all political, economic, ideological, and cultural spheres.
In the political sphere, your abandonment of important Party tradition, including most significantly the abandonment of the democratic system of the collective leadership of the Standing Committee, instead having all leaders at all levels support your position at the "core". has resulted in an excessive concentration of power. While strengthening the power of the Party Committees within the NPC, CPPCC, and the State Council, you've weakened the independent power of all state organs, including that of Premier Li Keqiang and others. Meanwhile, the stationing of Central Disciplinary Inspection Commission patrols in work units and state-owned enterprises has created a new system of power, leading to a lack of clarity at all levels of government, and confusing the decision-making process.
In the diplomatic sphere, your abandonment of Comrade Deng Xiaoping's consistent "hide your strength and bide your time" policy, has not only failed to create a favourable international environment, but has allowed North Korea to complete successful nuclear tests, creating an enormous threat to China's national security; has allowed the United States' successful return to Asia, forming a united front with South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and South-East Asian countries to jointly contain China. In handling the Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan problems, lack of compliance with Comrade Deng Xiaoping's wise concept of "one country, two systems" has created a further dilemma, allowing the Democratic Progressive Party to win power in Taiwan and letting sentiment of Hong Kong independence to rise. Of particular concern regarding Hong Kong, the irregular manner of bringing booksellers to the mainland has directly injured the "one country, two systems" policy.
In the economic sphere, as the head of the Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs, your direct involvement in the development of micro- and macroeconomic policy has created instability in the stock market and property market, allowing the wealth of hundreds of thousands of ordinary people to vanish. Supply side reforms and production capacity policies have resulted in large numbers of layoffs at state-owned firms; and the closing of private firms have also led to many layoffs. The "One Belt, One Road" initiative has put a huge amount of foreign exchange reserves into chaotic countries and regions with no return. The excessive consumption of foreign exchange reserves, and renminbi devaluation cycles, has made everyone's confidence decline, has brought the national economy to the verge of collapse. People want change.
On the ideological sphere, your emphasis of the "Media's Party surname" has disregarded the media's character of representing the people, and the entire country is stunned; your support of Zhou Xiaoping and Hua Qianfang as representatives on the literary front has left countless literary and art workers in bitter disappointment; your direct condoning of cultural units to sing your praises, and the appointment of your wife Peng Liyuan's sister as director and producer of the CCTV Spring Festival Gala, has turned the once popular Gala into your personal propaganda tool. Your condoning this cult of personality, disallowing "improper discussion" of the central government, and "one-voice Party" method make those of us who experienced the Cultural Revolution unable to not secretly worry — our Party, country, and people cannot bear another decade of calamity!
Comrade Xi Jinping, your carrying out a high-pressure anti-corruption campaign to correct unhealthy tendencies in the Party has had a helpful effect, but, since there are no supporting measures or objectives, it has given rise to an abundance of "slackness" at all levels of government, with officials too afraid to work, discontent openly voiced by the people, and the deterioration of our economy exacerbated. We also see the main goal of the anti-corruption campaign to be merely a power struggle. We are worried that this type of inner-Party power struggle may also bring risks to the personal safety of you and your family.
Consequently, Comrade Xi Jinping, we feel that you do not possess the capabilities to lead the Party and the nation into the future, and we believe that you are no longer suitable for the post of General Secretary. For the Party cause, for the long-term peace and stability of the country, and for your own personal safety and that of your family, we ask you to resign from all positions of Party and state leadership, and let the Party Central Committee and the people of the nation select a virtuous leader who can vigorously lead us into the future.
Loyal Communist Party Members