The rule of law is undoubtedly the right way to go. But, judging from what I've heard, a lot of people still seem unconvinced.
It's not surprising. The history of the [ruling] Chinese Communist Party is full of sloganeering, which makes people naturally skeptical. After all, it's better to be skeptical than gullible, and it's no loss to the party. Real gold can withstand the fire, and if the party can pass this test, it will be truly blessed for all time.
The communique from the Fourth Plenum of the party central committee makes no mention of the majority who are unconvinced. And of course it doesn't resolve the crucial question of whether the law is above the party or the party is above the law.
Some people think that the document is merely patiently reiterating the "leadership of the party," meaning that the rule of law has already been secretly reframed to mean the rule of the party.
If this is the case, then perhaps we need another perspective. We should perhaps ask ourselves the six-million dollar question: what does the rule of the party actually mean?
What is "the leadership of the party?"
On guard against 'counterfeits'
Mao Zedong had much to say about this. But Mao as an individual said all sorts of things that proved disastrous for country and people, and we shouldn't confuse the man and his message. Personally, I think Mao's teachings on party leadership are a classic worthy of being handed down for generations.
This is what he taught, from "On Matters of Political Power in the Base Areas During the War Against Japan," March 6, 1940:
"The party's so-called power to lead isn't to be taken as a slogan to be chanted from morning till night, nor is it a form of arrogance that requires people to obey us. It comes to us through having the right policies and through the example of our work style, which persuades and educates people outside the party, so that they want to listen to our suggestions."
Here, Mao has given us a spirit mirror to ward off evil. Everyone should be vigilant and on their guard against counterfeits.
So, what is the leadership of the party?
'Sound the alarm'
If you mouth slogans all day long, but have no good ideas: if you can't be an example to others, or if you take the ideas of the party for the law of the land; if you threaten, bully, or seek to contain, using bribery or dirty tricks to impose the party's will—then this is no true leadership, but an imitation, a fake.
If they come across such fake party leadership, Chinese people must never go along with it, but sound the alarm in aid of the Communist Party's anti-counterfeit campaign.
In helping the crackdown on fakes, we will will be helping to limit the demand for fake leadership, not to mention being a force for good in the task of implementing the decision of the Fourth Plenum regarding the rule of law.
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.