'I Feel as if I Have Entered a Time Warp'

A commentary by Bao Tong
china-gao-yu-305.jpg Gao Yu speaks at an International PEN conference in Hong Kong, Feb. 5, 2007.

It is now a year since Gao Yu was detained. When the authorities investigated her and put her on trial, they found no evidence of rumor-mongering; only that she had faithfully reported the truth.

Under such circumstances, the Beijing court could only find her guilty of "leaking secrets."

I think that the court awarded Gao Yu the highest accolade, and that she is worthy of it. Loyalty to the reader and to the truth, reporting the facts to the reader, letting the community know the truth: is there a more sacred or worthy task for a journalist?

Time Warp

The conviction and sentencing of a loyal journalist opened the eyes of the world to the meaning of "truth with Chinese characteristics."

People are often puzzled by "Chinese characteristics," but this decision has made things much easier.

To understand Gao Yu's case, we need to take as our benchmark the truth about the "rule of law" as promoted by the fourth plenum of the 18th Party Congress.

Let's see. China has laws that explicitly forbid journalists to report the truth. Under Chinese law, investigative reporting targeting the country's leaders is forbidden. The only news Chinese citizens can get hold of is that which has been selected and controlled by the leadership.

China may be a member of the United Nations, but the four basic freedoms don't exist here. All of these factors are a part of the truth about China.

Gao Yu's report wasn't about military or economic secrets, but Document No. 9, issued by the [ruling] Chinese Communist Party's central office in 2013.

This makes me feel as if I have entered a time warp.

Sixty years ago, when I was still a member of the Communist Party, party ideology wasn't a secret, even when the party in Shanghai was an underground organization.

Tracts like "The Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese Revolution," "The New Democracy," and "On a United Government," were things that the party was at pains to transmit to the broader population, for fear that they wouldn't have enough of an impact. But now that the party is in charge of everything, it skulks around in the dark, hiding its ideology.

Perhaps Document No. 9 helped the international community to understand a bit too much of the truth about the Chinese Communist Party?

Translated by Luisetta Mudie.

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


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