China Is in Chaos These Days

A former aide to an ousted top Chinese official writes about the confusion over the power structure under the Chinese Communist Party.
By Bao Tong
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npc-great-hall-305.jpg A paramilitary guard stands outside the Great Hall of the People during the opening session of the National People's Congress in Beijing on March 5, 2012.

There is a Professor Hu at Qinghua University who recently wrote that China has a system of "collective presidency." And exactly how many people make up this collective?

He has an answer for that, not a jot more, not a jot less. He says that nine people do.

If it could be said that Prof. Hu is bragging and swindling, then the head of the National People's Congress (NPC) should refute this rumor.

If the NPC is too bureaucratic, slow-witted and half-hearted, as clearly evidenced in the case of Hong Kong, over which the NPC chief still exerts a tight grip in spite of the principle of Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong, with the exception of foreign affairs and defense, they should improve their effectiveness, because this matters at a national level.

But he has remained silent.

Now, Chinese people don't even know how many presidents they have, while foreign guests and officials are confused about the questions of etiquette and precedence around China's nine presidents.

As luck would have it, the head of the NPC is also the conductor of the main theme tune* and one of the nine presidents himself. Now, is that confusing, or what?

There are lots of matters that are all tangled up now. At the beginning of last year, some people brought up the issue of "social management." Who is going to be in charge of managing society?

Chinese people

According to Mao Zedong's [1945] promise of a government "of the people, by the people and for the people," the only possible answer is the Chinese people.

But the leaders of the NPC and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) do not believe in the existence of universal values in China, and will only be happy when there is a government that is for the people, but not of them or by them.

We can also mention here that the head of the CPPCC is, like the head of the NPC, one of the nine presidents. It is now public knowledge that the whole of Chinese society has been handed over to the head of the [ruling Communist Party] politics and law committee, to be managed by him.

And yes, of course, the head of the politics and law committee is also one of the nine presidents. That's a huge amount of power, to allow one person to be in charge of the whole of society!

You won't find this organization, this politics and law committee, in the Constitution.


According to Clause 126 of the Constitution, "The People's Courts will exercise their powers of judgement independently, according to laws and regulations, with no interference from executive organs, social groups or individuals."

But according to my investigations, courts at every level from the Supreme People's Court downwards, must do the bidding of these illegal politics and law committees and their secretaries and leaders. So how could China not be messed up?

From the point of view of the law, China has only one president [also Party general secretary], but, according to the common theme tune, China has a dozen presidents -- or nine, to be more precise.

So which is the clearer indicator: the single chief prescribed by law, or the illegally determined nine chiefs? Who is responsible for such confusion, which has emerged under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party?

China also has an environmental protection law. If the copper refinery project in Shifang was set up in disregard of the law, then of what use is environmental law?

To turn it around, what role would the environmental protection legislation have played if this plant had been set up according to law? What role do Party and government play in these two scenarios?

Things are better now, and the riots have righted wrongs, largely thanks to the reasonable fight put up by the people of Shifang, and by the post-90 generation of young people in particular.

Now, with the mutual help and resistance of people living nearby, the government has put right its mistake. To be able to correct one's mistakes is laudable, and should be welcomed.

Left over

The problem is the unfinished business left over. If the rioting wasn't fully implemented, then the correction of the mistakes won't be, either.

There are still a number of people held in detention for protesting against pollution who have yet to be released. How can this be so, when someone has overturned a police car that should never have been deployed to protect a polluting project in the first place?

If the source of this corruption that sends police cars to oppress the people isn't further addressed, if the heroes of these rioters who are struggling to right wrongs continue to be detained, then which of our collective presidents in charge of maintaining social stability is responsible for this lousy notion, that they should reverse the tide of history?

Translated by Luisetta Mudie.

Bao Tong, political dissident and aide to former Chinese premier Zhao Ziyang, is currently under house arrest at his home in Beijing.

* Speeches by NPC chairman Wu Bangguo tend to reiterate the theme that China will not adopt multiparty democracy, the separation of powers, or a federal system.


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