'The End Result Will Be Rivers of Blood'

Bao Tong urges Chinese authorities to release 10 citizens detained for demanding top leaders declare their personal assets.
A commentary by Bao Tong
2013-05-27
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The seven members of China's Politburo Standing Committee greet the press at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 15, 2012.
AFP

Our new leaders believe that the forces of corruption will destroy Party and country, so they have launched a so-called anti-corruption campaign, which they call "Beating Tigers and Flies Together."

In response, some people decided to take to city centers, calling on the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee to declare their assets, and those of their families, publicly.

For this, they were detained. The four "gentlemen" who were arrested in March have now become 10 gentlemen. This refers to events in Beijing, and doesn't include arrests made elsewhere in the country about which I lack information.

How should this be resolved? The only correct thing to do would be to release these people immediately and unconditionally.

The 10 Beijing gentlemen must be released, as should any gentlemen who were similarly detained outside the capital for the same reason, however many there are of them. Any other outcome would lead us astray.

"But how can we release those who have already been detained?"

"If we don't right wrongs, then the country will be undone!"

But these citizens are innocent. On what basis is the government detaining innocent people? If the anti-corruption activities of the 10 gentlemen were illegal, then of course they should be detained; but the leaders have been speaking out against corruption, too.

Doesn't this make them even more culpable [than the activists]? If it's not a crime for the leadership to call for something, and then they criminalize citizens who respond to the call, what sort of logic is that? Who would dare to place their trust in a leadership like that?

Who will respond to anything the leadership calls for in future?

There exists not the slightest contradiction between calling on the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee to declare theirs and their families' assets. The higher you stand, the farther you can see. If this systemic problem isn't sorted out, then the end result will be rivers of blood.

For every 10,000 flies or 100 tigers we kill, more will spring forth to carry on as before, for all eternity. It is easier to realize the goal of requiring the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee to declare their assets than it is to achieve such a declaration by "some leadership level officials." If they are willing to take the lead, then who else would dare to drag their feet? Taking the struggle against corruption onto the streets is utterly beyond reproach.

"Now that we've arrested them, we can only heap further wrongs on the wrongs already done, by making up some arbitrary crime to cover our blunder."

This is the sort of argument that has been practiced to perfection by law enforcement agencies. But bystanders can see clearly that it adds insult to injury, and heaps injustice upon injustice. It would be better to admit honestly that one has got it wrong.

"So what if we just tough it out? What can anyone do about it?"

If they decide to keep right on protecting corruption, come Hell or high water, to carry on regardless with these miscarriages of justice, to destroy Party and country, and Devil take the hindmost, and to reap what they sow, what can anyone else do about it?

Translated by Luisetta Mudie.

Bao Tong, former political aide to the late ousted premier Zhao Ziyang, is currently under house arrest at his home in Beijing.