Power Struggle Within the Chinese Communist Party, Oct. 31, 2002
The 16th Chinese Communist Party Congress is about to opne Nov. 8 . This is a big event. In the past 50-plus years, whether there would be good or ill luck, good fortune or evil, all would be decided by the Party. But in fact, this has not been decided by millions of party members, nor the millions of cadres; it has not been decided by the Central Committee, which emerged from the Party Congress, but by only a few people, or even one person who decides who the leaders of the nation and government will be and what policies will be carried out in the name the entire Party.
This congress will not make any changes either; it will be exactly the same. Delegates from all over the country were not elected by party members through democratic means, but emerged with voting as a mere formality from a list of names provided by the higher authorities. Candidates for the Central Committee are basically decided by a few leaders even before the Congress is inaugurated. The highest power structure, the Politburo and its Standing Committee, should be elected by the newly elected Party Central Committee, according to the party constitution. But they were also chosen internally several months before the Party Congress.
These sorts of practices, made routine over the past several decades, have never conformed to the regulations of the party constitution. According to it, any Communist Party member should have the right to question Jiang Zemin: What part of the Constitution gives you the right to decide the list of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau before the Party Congress inaugurates? In 1989, you became the General Secretary of Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party without going through legal procedures.
Now, let us take a look at whom Jiang Zemin has squeezed into the Standing Committee of the Politburo: Huang Ju, the Party Secretary of the Municipal Committee of Shanghai, whom all Shanghai residents condemn without exception. This person is a smooth talker, but his only special talent is flattering his superiors… This person is now on the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau Committee. Another is Luo Gan. He is a professional bully, an ally of Li Peng. After Qiao Shi, he has been in charge of the public security apparatus and is known for being domineering and high-handed.
However, whether Jiang Zemin’s wishful thinking can become reality remains uncertain. Although the delegates of the 16th Communist Party Congress were not elected democratically, they do not all necessarily follow a single baton, right? One thing is that the local authorities have not been all that obedient to the central authorities since long ago. At the same time, more or less, people have started utilizing their own brains to think things over, isn’t it right? Isn’t it true that many people do not altogether approve of Jiang Zemin’s theory of “Three Represents”?
During this Congress, the final vote will be a secret ballot and this is a western capitalist practice. When it is time to vote for members of Party Central Committee, nobody can control how many negative votes or abstentions there will be. If any of his [Jiang’s] internally chosen individuals for the Political Bureau do not get elected to be members of the Party Central Committee, then nobody can find a way out. The only option left would be [for him] to glower in vain. At the 13th Chinese Communist Party Congress in 1987, this sort of thing happened. Deng Xiaoping intended to get Deng Liqun—that Leftist who opposed Hu Yaobang—into the Politburo as a Standing Committee member. But during the vote for members of Party Central Committee, Deng Liqun failed to be elected, and even Deng Xiaoping had no way to fix it.
Now, the people in China care nothing about this Communist Party Congress. The majority of the Chinese people ignore the fact of whether or not someone gets into the Politburo. This is also the reflection of a big change in these 10-odd years. This change is that the Communist Party’s control and influence on the Chinese society has already become more and more frail.
* * *
Falun Gong Protesters, Oct. 29, 2002.
President Jiang is coming to visit the United States again. This is probably his last visit [as president]. That’s why it’s a very important visit. To those Chinese diplomats based in the United States, no event is as important. They can’t guarantee that President Jiang’s visit will be successful. However, they have the responsibility to ensure that the President is happy throughout the whole trip. They will try to direct him away from the things that upset him. One of the important elements that make him happy is to have a large welcoming crowd wherever he appears. They will try to keep the welcoming crowd very big. The smaller the protest group, the better it makes him feel.
Several years ago, the most vehement protesters were the Tibetans. They asked for autonomy. After 1999, a new force has come to emerge. That is the Falun Gong group. Their voices are getting more and more prominent as time goes by. Among the Falun Gong group, the number of white people, or Westerners, is getting bigger and bigger. It’s the same situation in Asia, Europe, and America. This year, the Chinese government has slightly changed their attitude toward the independence movement in Tibet. The Dalai Lama asked Tibetans not to protest during Jiang’s visit. As a result, the Falun Gong group becomes more conspicuous.
Many Chinese students at the American universities have recently received a strange letter. The letter, written in English, was actually a contract. Let me read this letter to you:
“A certain organization invites a certain person to be a member of the welcoming group. In return, I hereby agree to abide by the rules and regulations of the welcoming group. If I cause any disturbance, or lodge a protest against the visiting Chinese President, I also agree to pay the sum of U.S. $5,000 in penalties to compensate for the damage to the group’s reputation. In addition, if other groups, such as Falun Gong, have contacted us, or we know of threats or harassment from other groups, I agree to report this to the organizers of the welcoming ceremony.”
This actually means you should spy on other groups. “We are entitled to collaborate with other groups and express our views through protests. However, as a member of the welcoming group, I have voluntarily given up my rights.” The above are from the letter that I have just mentioned.
This contract has revealed several secrets. First, it shows that it is not easy to assemble a welcoming group. That’s why they have to extend their invitation to those who are not considered reliable. Otherwise, they don’t have to threaten people with a fine of U.S. $5,000. Secondly, Falun Gong has become more popular among U.S. universities. Despite the fact that many students who have been invited have to go through the selection process, there is still the possibility that some of them can be members of the Falun Gong group. Thirdly, the contract shows that the number of students loyal to the Chinese Consulate is on the decrease. Otherwise, those students would have voluntarily come to join the crowd to welcome President Jiang, with or without getting any invitations, don’t you think?
Since there weren’t so many people who are willing to do it, they worry that a small welcome crowd will look bad. That’s why they have to recruit those whom they consider to be unreliable elements to participate in the welcoming ceremony. If these unreliable elements were in the minority, things would have been easier. All they need to do is to install a couple of loyalists beside that unreliable person and all the problems will be resolved. If that unreliable person wants to act out, the other people can easily subdue him or her. In this way, there is no need for the contract to prevent any disturbances or to use the threat of a $5,000 fine.
It’s obvious that there are quite a large number of the so-called unreliable elements around. Apparently, the ratio between the reliable and unreliable elements has not reached three to one. In other words, if there are three reliable elements and one unreliable one, things can easily get under control, even if that lone unreliable person wants to make trouble.
As you know, sending out letters like this can be risky. If someone gives this letter to the U.S. government, the person who sends the letter could be liable for legal punishment. The U.S. government is experienced in using legal means to handle the mafia. They will not allow anybody to use threats, or force other people to obey his or her will.
At the moment, the contract letter has been put out on the Internet. Don’t you think the U.S. government is aware of it? Why did the staff at the Chinese Consulate do some embarrassing and shameful things like this? This is because habit becomes second nature. When it comes to dealing with Falun Gong, they naturally use the tactics that the government employs within China. In China, if one person stubbornly clings to the practice of Falun Gong, bonuses for people at the entire company will be taken away. In this way, nobody dares to speak out. Silence becomes a form of pressure. Silence will make the Falun Gong practitioner uncomfortable. This is what we call using economic means to reach political goals. This is a popular practice inside China. Those who have come up with this idea at the Consulate or Embassy made an error. They mistakenly think the United States is like China.
* * *
Nanjing Poisoning Case, Sept. 27, 2002.
In the poisoning incident in Shenzhen, the criminal Chen Zhenping has been under arrest. Regarding his motive for committing this crime, it is said that he had some personal grudges against the owner of the diner and was filled with envy at his booming business. In terms of the big explosion happened last March in Shijiazhuang, according to the official report, what motivated the criminal Ji Ruchao was also said to be no more than his personal grudges against a few people.
These reasons, of course, need not to be questioned. These, of course, are based on the criminals themselves’ testimonies. Nevertheless, there is still a question in all of these. The criminals said that their motives of committing those crimes were simply personal grudges.
In that case, their sentences would be less harsh because their motives were irrelevant to the politics. If they were to admit that they were dissatisfied with society, or discontent with the politics, so that they released their anger by setting up an explosion or poisoning other people—in other words, that was about their hatred toward the society or the government—then they were just adding an offense on top of another. Therefore, the government, of course, is happy to see that they didn’t mention the latter motives. I am very suspicious. Of course, one or two people’s motives of committing this kind of crimes could be resulted from personal grudges…
Chinese people are certainly very much into revenge: You not only have to take revenge for yourself, but you must also avenge your parents. No matter how deep the hatred one bears, the targets of their revenge are the people who offended them. It is unlikely that they would be so cold-hearted and so cruel, which I don’t see the reason. Therefore, whether their motives are purely personal is worth conducting further research. Moreover, in addition to the conscious motives, I think other psychological elements in their deep mind are functioning. We could not forget that the history of recent decades has inevitably left their traces upon our minds.
Mao Zedong always categorized people’s mental activities as the issues of their thought or political stands. In fact, there are many activities in our minds happen in the psychological level, which I mean by a psychological definition. Those activities haven’t formed an articulated thought. One’s attitudes toward people and things are usually based on feelings and are unrelated to thought…People often fail to understand their own motives.
In recent years, studies have shown that many people are unbalanced. They occupy a pretty large proportion of our population. The number of the teenagers in Shenzhen and Shanghai in this category is higher than average. It is because, in those areas, people experience relatively more drastic social change and more competition to survive. But we have to know that the people on whom they conducted these studies didn’t experience any of the political movements in the Mao’s era and didn’t suffer any political oppression.
From this, therefore, we could imagine that during the period 1949-76, the trauma and damage that the Chinese people have suffered must be far more severe than that experienced by the teens in Shenzhen and Shanghai areas. In 1979, I went to Harbin, where I hadn’t been for more than 20 years. During my very short stay of about 10 days, I met several severely disturbed people. This shouldn’t be surprising, if you think about the fact that, during the Cultural Revolution period, a four- or five-year-old child might awaken at midnight to find Red Guards marching into his house and beating his parents—destroying his home. Could it be possible that no damage remains in the mind of that now-grown child?…
There is a farmer in Shanxi province who experienced the Cultural Revolution. Even though it has been more than 30 years, he still sings “The Red Sun Rising in the East” before he goes to sleep. If you ask him in the daytime, he cannot recall this at all. What was left in his subconscious from the Cultural Revolution still remains. Everyone who experienced this nightmarish time, I fear, is more or less abnormal. The only difference is that most of us do not show the effect. In these years, Chinese people are all seeded with hatred in their minds, but don’t understand the reasons or origins of the hatred. We often see the rudeness and barbaric attitudes—the cold-heartedness and cruelty in people’s interactions, which, I think, are all products of the history of that period. Therefore, why Ji Ruchao and Chen Zhenping would enlarge their personal grudges into such a big hatred, I may say that history has exerted its impact upon them.
* * *
North Korean Refugees in China, Aug. 9, 2002
Liu Binyan: There’s been a famine in North Korea for several years now. The people there really cannot survive anymore, so they cross the Yalu River to come to China to escape the disaster. This ought to be something quite normal, but the Chinese government’s attitude is not to allow them to cross over. The Chinese government would capture anyone crossing over and then send them back. Many refugees therefore try to get to Beijing by any means so they could run into foreign embassies there. Anyone who gets into a particular country’s embassy or consulate can apply for asylum with that country. A few refugees did manage thus to leave China and immigrate to South Korea. But eventually the Chinese government further tightened its restrictions on the refugees, and the armed police would even go into an embassy to capture the North Korean refugees inside.
Such actions have already aroused international anger and condemnation because they are not only a violation of international law but also lacking in humanity. At this juncture appears a German named Norbert Vollertsen. Vollertsen is 44 and used to be a family physician in Germany. He was living a good life, but he insisted on changing his job and went with United Nations aid workers to North Korea to become a doctor there. He saw the officials in Pyongyang living a privileged life, driving around in imported luxury cars and enjoying their own high-class restaurants and night clubs and casinos. But 60, 70 miles outside Pyongyang, it was another world. Rural children would be starving, hanging on to life, and doctors could use only shaving blades to perform surgery without anesthesia. In orphanages, he saw child after child huddling together who were cold and hungry and dying. Vollertsen felt the whole of North Korea was like a Jewish concentration camp in World War II Germany. He couldn’t stand it anymore, and he started to tell the outside world what he saw.
Because of this, the North Korean government expelled him after 1-1/2 years. Ever since, he’s been without a job and income. But he kept going to different countries to tell and unveil the suffering of the people in North Korea. He published two books in Japan, and frequently writes for the newspapers to earn some money. He is dedicated to one thing: Revealing the suffering in North Korea. According to him, there are now 170,000 people locked up in secret concentration camps in North Korea. In the past 30 years, more than 400,000 people have died in these camps due to cold, hunger, and fatigue. Since the great famine started in the mid-1990s, five percent of the North Korean population, more than 1 million people, have died of hunger.
Then Vollertsen realized that Americans didn’t know enough about the situation in North Korea and thought North Korea is much better than Iran or Iraq. So he went to America to lobby government officials and the Congress, to talk to the press, and he’s appeared on more than 1,500 stations in the United States. Later, he went to South Korea to broadcast his voice to the more than 1 billion people around the world who were watching the World Cup. He also came to China. Once, in the “Embassy District”, the “Embassy District” in Beijing, in front of the Spanish embassy, he was on a sidewalk and saw Chinese armed police arresting North Korean refugees. He went up to the police and said, “Take pity on them. Let them go. If they’re sent back to North Korea, they’ll surely die.” His words had their effect. This group of a dozen or so refugees were finally able to go to the Philippines.
Germany is very, very far from North Korea. And Vollertsen is a white person. He does not have to pay attention to what’s going on in North Korea at all. But it is different with the Chinese. The Chinese government has continued to pursue and arrest North Korean refugees. Of course, many ethnic Koreans in China, and Han people, many would take a risk to provide cover for these North Korean refugees. This is a good thing.
But I’m still worried. I’m worried that some Chinese are still callous to these people’s suffering and might even act as accomplices to the Chinese police and report the refugees to the police to help the police capture them. Why do I have so little confidence in my compatriots? Because many Chinese lack compassion even for the farmers or peasants of their own nation. Not only do they entertain no compassion for them, sometimes they would even further harm them when they’re down.
* * *
New World Order After 9/11, Oct. 24, 2001.
At the end of 1999, I was in Europe and I read some special issues of The International Pioneer Forum and several other magazines. They forecast that the world of the 21st century would be bright, magnificent. A few months ago, a Chinese overseas critic wrote a long article, saying that after the Cold War ended, a peaceful and free new world had appeared. What the two calamities in New York City and in Washington, D. C. have created is a totally different 21st century.
Now in the United States, fewer people travel and many stores have become deserted. Only video rental stores are booming. This is because people would rather stay home for their entertainment. Someone wrote that terrorism is like a worm, creeping into daily life. A terrified feeling hovers above New York City and destroys our most ordinary activities. Some people do not dare to climb to the upper floors of skyscrapers; others are not willing to go down to take the subways; yet others hesitate to open their mail. A girl who works as a receptionist in a skyscraper said that she simply could not get rid of the fear that her building could collapse at any moment.
Smoking, drinking, and attending religious service have all increased. One cab driver said that before, he liked to take customers to the airports to make more money; now, he tries to avoid airports as much as possible, because these are now the troubled places. He does not like to go through tunnels or across bridges either.
New Yorkers cannot accept the damage their lovely city has suffered, yet at the same time, they do not know how to eliminate the presentiment that this city and this country will continue to be attacked by terrorists and grief. However, you don’t see the United States in a state of panic anymore. Americans are thinking deeply. There isn’t a party central committee, nor is there a chorus from a Jiang [Zemin] that tries to require them to keep unified.
Instead, all kinds of voices are rising up. Everybody is asking: Why exactly are there so many people in the world who hate us? What are the roots of terrorism? Can a war resolve the problem of terrorism? No, it can’t. People all believe that even if this military action in Afghanistan gains a complete victory, the matter will be far from over.
Terrorism is a tough problem for the 21st century. Many people believe that the fundamental problem is the poverty of Afghanistan. Three million refugees have gone to Iran and Pakistan already; another 1.5 million refugees are now on the run. Nor can this matter be separated from the history of the 40-year Cold War. One serious problem is what to do when a religious form of government is overthrown. It is most likely that Afghanistan will fall into anarchy.
The United States is indeed facing a difficult phase unprecedented in its history. But, we can see that the United States is reflecting on its past and readjusting its policies: Isn’t Bush sending missiles to Afghanistan while air-dropping food worth several million dollars? He also changed his policy towards Palestine: agreeing that Palestine be set up as an autonomous country. The United States has hope. The reason that the Americans can still keep their optimistic spirit is that the United States has freedom, unlike China where one has to hew to a uniform line backed up by certain governmental force.
* * *
Terror Attacks and American Calls for Peace, Oct. 2, 2001.
It has been half a month since Sept. 11, when terrorists launched frenzied attacks on America. But the American people are still immersed in sorrow, indignation and worry. The nation is in a state of war psychologically, worrying about another attack and nuclear power stations may be the next targets. The overall atmosphere is heavy. And 80 to 90 percent of the people are supportive of President Bush to start a war against terrorists.
However, a totally different voice can be heard at this moment of time. On Sept. 20, a feature article appeared in The New York Times . At a place nearby the demolished World Trade Center, i.e., Union Square of New York, people had been mourning the victims in various ways. However, the newspaper article stated that anti-war slogans and slogans calling for non-violent reactions far outnumbered slogans to revenge on the enemies. On one post, it read: “We mourn over those sacrificed; but we want peace.” “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind" was written on another one.
At a school, several students’ parents were buried in the rubble of the World Trade Center. But a teacher there said: “Right. There should be justice. But I don’t think that a war can bring about justice.” A politics professor ... at the University of Arizona said that the White House, the American government, requested blood for blood and decided to wage a war. They didn’t ponder if there was an alternative. Some 530 professors of this university signed a joint petition asking the American government to control. In addition, more than 1,200 religious leaders, some actors and writers, the celebrities, signed a joint statement, which would appear in a newspaper soon, entitled: “Justice, not revenge.” On the29th of this month, some anti-war organizations of America will launch various demonstrations against war.
That is not what happens in normal time. It happens in a time when the whole country of America is in the midst of high waves of patriotism. While most of the people ask for revenge and war, a few people dare to express such opinions and take actions. And the American government and society allow that opposition opinion to exist. That is a hard thing to do.
In comparing with our China, we can tell that is where the biggest difference is between the two countries. In 1999 when Jiang Zemin stipulated to crack down on Falun Gong, who dared to express different opinions? Not mention opposing the crackdown, was it possible for anyone to even express different opinions regarding the cruel way to crack down? That is not just an individual case today. That has always been the case for more than 50 years.
Either in the times of Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping or in the times of Jiang Zemin, one who simply makes a suggestion or advice out of good will but without any intention to oppose that party will inflict on him himself sudden misfortune. Taking actions such as those in America including taking to the street, forming organizations and burning a national flag on the street cannot even be thought of. In fact, all the miseries and calamities the Chinese people have suffered are due to the situation that the Chinese people don’t have such a right to express different opinions freely.
What is especially unfortunate is that many Chinese have not been able to realize that even to this day. I have often come across friends from China who said complacently that: ‘Wow! The common people dare to say anything now. It is even OK to criticize the Communist Party.’ They don’t understand that it is a totally different thing to grumble in private and shout abuses in the street than to express opinions openly. This is because grumbles in private will not influence society or threaten the regime or compel them to change and correct mistakes. Grumbles can only let people take vent to their complaints. They won't harm the authorities. It isn't just that the Chinese government does not allow people to express different opinions.
Actually, we Chinese people lack such a spirit, too. After the 9/11 incidents, those Chinese nationals who get a job after studying in America, the intellectuals, have different stands. They are in diametrically opposed to each other. Some take a stand from a narrow-minded perspective of Chinese nationality chauvinism, gloating and lashing at the United States. And some others take a contrary stand, siding with the Americans. It is unlikely for them to sit down and exchange opinions calmly. They are very emotion-driven. Neither opinions on either party fit in completely with the reality, though they make sense to a certain degree. Only when they supplement each other can the truth be found.
* * *
The Chinese and American Reactions, Sept. 25, 2001
Their attack targets this time are two major symbols of America: One is the economic symbol. Many companies on Wall Street have their offices inside the World Trade Center. The other is the political center – the capital city of Washington, DC. What they bombed in DC is the US military symbol – the Pentagon where the US Defense Department is based. In the past 200 years, the United States has never been attacked by foreigners, except the surprise attack of Pearl Harbor. Apart from the Civil War, the United States has not witnessed any wars on its soil. The United States is a superpower. It is powerful, economically, militarily, technologically and politically.
Despite this, the United States was not able to protect itself, and instead got hit with a heavy blow at unexpected places and in an unexpected way. You can imagine the harm it has done to the American psyche. All the victims are civilians, and none of them are military personnel. That is the main reason why the United States and the world are outraged and people of the world are sympathetic to America.
Not long after the plane hit the World Trade Center, the 110-story building collapsed. The firemen in New York risked their lives to rescue the people who had been trapped inside. They sometimes had to climb to places as high as the 10th floor of a building to rescue others. They did save the lives of other people, but those brave rescuers ended up losing their own lives. About 200 fire fighters sacrificed their lives. Blood donors formed long lines and people had to wait six to eight hours to donate their blood. Residents drove from places hundreds of miles away to the city to donate food and clothing. These were touching scenes. You have to believe that a great country with people like this will not be defeated.
The United States is not free of domestic problems and conflicts, problems such as racial discrimination, the inequities between the rich and the poor, and social and moral decline. However, facing this national disaster, what is the driving the force that bind people together?
About 60 years ago, before the United States declared war against Japan, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the Pearl Harbor. Since there were too many Japanese spies, the US government put all the Japanese-Americans in internment camps. The US government later on apologized for its acts and offered compensation to these Japanese-Americans. When I was reading this part of American history, I found one thing intriguing. For those Japanese-Americans who served in the US army, their parents were locked up in internment camps. When these Japanese-American soldiers were fighting at the front, their enemies were their fellow Japanese. What motivated them to fight so bravely and kill their fellow Japanese for the United States? I realized later on that the motivation is that America is beautiful.
America is beautiful because it is a free country. Of course, when we talk about freedom in the United States, we don’t mean to say that it is without fault.
If you happen to be in a bookstore or a library, you can easily get a lot of books which criticize the United States for not having enough freedom. However, the freedom for writers to criticize the United States for its lack of freedom doesn’t exist in many countries. Can you publish these books in China? Since China adopted the open-door policy, ordinary Chinese actually are enjoying lots of freedom. Why do I use the word “actually or in reality?” Because lots of the freedom that ordinary Chinese are enjoying today are not something that the government is willing to offer.
Take freedom of the press as an example. The government has taken back a certain amount of press freedom. The grassroots officials do not always comply with every Communist Party’s policy. However, when it comes to suppressing people’s freedom, such as cracking down on the Falun Gong movement, all the government organizations waste no time in carrying out orders. As a result, the Chinese don’t even have the freedom to fight against graft and corruption within the government. People cannot organize themselves and rally for a cause without the permission of the Communist Party.
Several years ago, ordinary Chinese began to enjoy more freedom and they were very contented. That was the reason for a short period of social stability. At present, things are different. You can criticize if you are not happy with the US policy. But, when innocent Americans were hit by this disaster, it is wrong to laugh at other’s misfortune. It is a shameful and embarrassing thing for the Chinese. It shows that you are far away from civilization. Whatever happens, you are a human being and you should possess kindness and sympathy when your fellow human beings are suffering, especially when all the victims are innocent civilians. Many of the victims who lost their lives inside the World Trade Centers were foreigners. Among them were more than 100 Chinese nationals.
* * *
American Media versus Chinese, Sept. 19, 2001
What was the top story in The New York Times on Sept. 8? It was about the sharp increase of the unemployment rate hitting 4.9 percenty. How much did it go up? In July, the unemployment rate was 4.5 percent, so it only went up 0.4 percent. This kind of news would never be the top story in the People’s Daily , not even in the other sections of the newspaper. The top story in our country is always about leaders going abroad, coming back, holding meetings, making speeches, receiving foreign guests or some unfortunate death. The Chinese people can see the picture of smiling Jiang Zemin without opening the newspapers. It is as if that his everlasting smile is all the people want to see every day. And it’s always the top story.
An American economist said that the danger the American economy faces was greater than we expected. It was not looking good. Actually, in August only 100,000 people got laid off, which comprised one thousandth of the work force. The same article said that the stocks were going down, the dollar exchange rate was lower, some companies were closed down, a few thousand people were laid off, hotels and restaurants were slow and productivity was declining. It also talked about the hardships faced by the laid-off workers. They could not pay their rent and were driven to the street. Those are the featured stories of The New York Times .
In the meantime, there are discussions about economic situation every day. Some said that the economy has hit the bottom and recovery is in the horizon; others said that we have not seen enough hardships yet. Generally speaking, there is more bad news. According to the theory of the Communist Party, Americans would lose confidence. They would sell stocks with no intention to work. They would even lose confidence in the American political system and escape to the Chinese style socialism.
In Mao’s time, newspapers covered everything. At that time, people believed in propaganda. Around 1960, everybody was hungry. In some villages, half of the population died of hunger. But nobody knew tens of thousands people died. Even though propaganda worked, we still had the Cultural Revolution. All the darkness was exposed, all the hatred was exploded.
Nowadays very few people believe in the newspapers or the clichés in Jiang Zemin’s speeches. China is relying on the unexploded bomb in the economy. The money poured in from abroad and Taiwan helped create this superficial flourish. It is not going to last forever. New money is being printed every year, yet currency is still short. Debt is deeper; people are borrowing at higher interests. Teachers, workers, cadres and retirees are waiting longer to get paid. China is huge, the damage has been accumulating for some time. When its economy collapses, nobody can save it. When Mexico and Brazil had economic crisis, the United States and the World Bank saved it by lending them a few billion dollars. China needs a few thousand trillions. Who could afford to pay for it? (end)
* * *
Positive News in China’s Media and Negative Facts in People’s Lives, Feb. 9, 2000
Recently, there has been an increase in the number of articles that report good news. One article said that state-owned enterprises in a few provinces stopped losing money and had made a few hundred million yuan profit and there was a 60 percent profit increase by state owned banks last year. The People’s Daily published an article called “Good Records in Smuggling Crack Downs.” It said that customs cracked 13,694 smuggling cases in 1999. The State Bureau of Cultural Relics also released a report to the media saying that there was a 30 percent drop in cultural relic theft cases. There were only 37 cultural relic theft cases in 1999, or 16 fewer than in 1998.
Many people have doubts about these reports. For example, they said that the profit earned by the state owned banks increased 60% last year. Even the bank employees have doubts about this. Many small and mid sized banks are still losing money, while the transparency in the big banks is bad. Some people say that old bad debts in big banks have already reached U.S. $2 trillion, while new bad loans continue to pile up.
So, where does the profit come from? It is very suspicious. Then there are the cultural relic theft cases. According to my knowledge, that situation had reached an astonishing scale by the end of the 1980s. Meantime, in the last 10 years, corruption has become much worse and people’s sense of responsibility dropped sharply, while the criminals’ capability, means of committing the crime and boldness all sharply increased. So, how can the number of cultural relic theft cases drop by one third all of a sudden? They did not offer any supporting evidence.
So, what is the purpose of these reports? Most likely, they serve central government’s plan to rebuild Chinese people’s confidence. Of course, China is big and it is unavoidable that there must be some confused people out there. So some might believe in these reports. But, most people probably would have their doubts, or, not even be bothered with them. For example, there was another positive report saying that Guangdong’s Procuratorate made great progress in cracking down on corruption and embezzlement cases--they dealt with 192 cases of cadres who ranked higher then section chief.
But if we compare this number with last year’s, there is a 64 percent increase. Can this be called achievement? We can only say that the number of cases solved by the Procuratorate has increased. Meantime, the number and scale of cadres committing crimes increased faster than this number. So, every year, there is an anti-corruption achievement report, while the scale of corruption also increases. According to my knowledge, this number has increased by about 20 percent, 60 percent, 70 percent, or even 100 percent in some areas. So it is really doubtful how this kind of report will affect people.
* * *
Intensified Social Conflicts in China, Oct. 30, 1999
A domestic newspaper Xian Zhao City News published an article Aug. 27, saying an armed peasants organization was uncovered in Chongqing, Sichuan Province. The 52-year old peasant Yang Jiahua is from Dianjiang County. He set up a peasant organization with a few dozen members in June of 1998. The organization was called “Southwest Yangtze Unit.” They had their own bylaws, including goals, discipline, etc. They also had their own political, organizational and propaganda bureau, etc. This organization had distributed a lot of so-called counter-revolutionary slogans and poems in more than 20 townships in Dianjiang, Zhongxian and Fengdu counties in Chongqing since June of this year. Judging from Yang Jiahua’s age, we can tell that he had grown up during the Cultural Revolution. We can’t tell whether he was once in the PLA. But I am sure that they must have some PLA veterans. Anyway, it is an armed peasant revolutionary force. I think that their spirit deserves our respect.
So many people just go with the flow, so many curry favor, follow or commit crimes with this government and so many make money and become corrupted! But those peasants were willing to fight against the government by taking extreme risks, or even put their lives on the line. The reason is that they are good people with a sense of justice. They could no longer bear to see those corrupted officials who ganged up with local gangsters to exploit ordinary people. They also witnessed the mess and darkness, which was getting worse in the last ten years. They did not see any sign of improvement. So they made this reckless move.
Of course, this government will not be around much longer. However, as long as they are in power, the powerful state machine is still in the hands of the party. Although they can’t do much good, they are quite efficient in suppressing with detention, sentencing and execution of the people. So being a revolutionary force, in order to fight against the government, it is necessary to use a little force to punish the evil, the most corrupted and cruel officials, to attack their arrogance and to boost people’s morale at certain times.
My personal view is that for people who want to change the current situation, they should understand that our destiny is not only to overthrow the government, but also to reform China smoothly after the government is gone. The best way is to organize the people so they can protect their own rights and interests. There are still a lot of things in this aspect that we can do. Peaceful and legal struggle can nurture people’s democratic habit and self-control ability.
Now we should begin to do things that can be done in a township or county while trying to recruit good and conscious people from the Communist Party and its military to disintegrate the government. When the government collapses at last, we can better handle the situation and ease the loss caused by the turbulence.
* * *
Detention of a Chinese Scholar, Oct. 12, 1999
A Chinese scholar, whose name is Song Yongyi, went back to China recently and was arrested by the Chinese government. He was conducting research about the Cultural Revolution. I had come in contact with him before and also read a book for which he was the chief editor. The book was called “The Cultural Revolution and Its Extreme Thoughts,” a very good book.
Mr. Song Yongyi works at the library of Dickinson College in Pennsylvania. He has a happy family. He could have spent his life in peace. But for his love for the people and concern about China’s future, he devoted himself to the research work of the Cultural Revolution and its history. The Chinese government arrested him when he went back to China to collect materials.
The crime that he was charged with was “stealing state secrets.” The crime is worth our noting. What is a state secret? How can the Cultural Revolution become a state secret? The Cultural Revolution happened 33 years ago and had long become a part of history. But because of different reasons, even those who participated in the Cultural Revolution still don’t know the overall picture. The pain created and brought about by the Cultural Revolution is a rare case in China. Meantime, because Mao Zedong pushed his mistakes to an extreme, they woke up the people. Mao Zedong himself and his ideology then broke into pieces, which brought the turning point for China.
History from 1949-66 brought the Cultural Revolution, which then brought the changes that happened in China in the last twenty years. If we don’t know the history, it would be hard for us to see our current situation clearly or predict our future. The materials that Mr. Song Yongyi tried to collect pertain to incidents that happened during the ten year Cultural Revolution period.
That history is the state secret for Mao Zedong, Lin Biao and the Gang of Four. They, of course, would not want anyone to know. But why are they also the state secrets to Jiang Zeming? Why do they want to keep this history a secret? There can be only one explanation: they will carry on Mao Zedong’s tradition and don’t want to deny Mao Zedong’s policies that reached an extreme height during the Cultural Revolution. If the history of the Cultural Revolution were exposed, Jiang Zeming and his group could not implement their own policies. If they insist on implementing them, people would fight against them. For example, it was not allowed for people to become organized during the Mao and Deng eras no matter whether the organization was political or non-political. Jiang Zeming, who cracked down on the Falun Gong, a non-political organization, carried on this tradition. He is afraid of a second Cultural Revolution.
During the Cultural Revolution, Mao urged people to overthrow “capitalist-roaders,” when, in fact, there was very few “capitalist-roaders.” Now, there are a lot of “capitalist-roaders,” not only the regular, but also the criminal “capitalist roaders” inside the Communist Party. In fact, it is good for Chinese people to learn the truth about the Cultural Revolution. They then would avoid making the same or similar mistakes that they made then. The result of covering up country’s history in the last 50 years is to keep people in the dark. This is what Jiang Zeming and his colleagues are doing now.
* * *
Patriotism or Betrayal, June 15, 1999
Today, writer Liu Binyan, an RFA guest commentator, will draw from the fate of the famous American political critic Paine to speak about the phenomenon that many individuals fighting for human rights have been labeled as traitors to their nation by the authorities.
The term ‘traitor’ is familiar to all of us. It is probably the strongest term one can use to condemn or scold someone in Chinese. In a foreign language, there is no equivalent meaning. But there are terms such as ‘traitor’, ‘betray one’s country and join the enemy,’ and ‘betray the national interests.’
There was an Englishman by the name of Paine in the 18th century. He made important contributions to history. You all know one statement of his: All men are created equal. It was one of the important things President Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence. Both Jefferson and the first president, Washington, learned a lot from Paine. Paine was an English subject, but he took part in the American war for independence. Why? At that time, he saw that people in America, which was a British colony, had to pay heavy taxes.
However, those people could not enjoy the political rights they were entitled to. For example, they did not have representation in the British Parliament. Therefore, he took the side of the American people, opposed the British government and advocated the independence of America. He thus enraged the British government. He was convicted of the crime of colluding with the enemy and betraying the country. The reason for this verdict was not because of his participation in the independence war in America. It was because of what he had done in France.
During the French Revolution, he defended the revolution when others opposed it. He published the first two sections of his “The Rights of Man.” He also published some essays promoting human rights and equality. He rallied against dictatorship, poverty, unemployment, and war for the people of Europe. He blatantly spoke in opposition of monarchy. That infuriated the British government. He was condemned for having colluded with the enemy and betraying his country. His book was immediately banned.
The [British] authorities investigated him for fueling revolutionary sentiment and issued an order to arrest him. At that time, he had already left Britain for France. Thus, he did not attend the trial. He was deprived of his civil rights. But in France, he got in with the French. He offended the revolutionaries. The revolutionaries wanted to execute the king, but Paine opposed that. Because of that, he was sentenced to death by the French revolutionaries. Fortunately, an American ambassador tried hard to rescue him, and he was spared his life. He made a narrow escape and returned to the United States.
Paine’s experience points to the inevitable fate of many people fighting for democracy. Many honest intellectuals often run counter to certain policies of their countries in their pursuit of the truth. We can find people like that in the history of any country in the world. Many times the policies the leader of a country implements are against the interests of the people: Sometimes against current interests, other times long-term interests.
The people are often agitated and don’t know the truth, and consequently take the side of the government. When that happens, those remarkable intellectuals with acute sight and good conscience will oppose those policies. As a result, the government and the people think that they have betrayed the interests of the country and call them traitors to the nation.
* * *