Marking Premier Wen Jiabao's Report

Bao Tong, former aide to an ousted top Chinese official, says Wen does not deserve a passing grade.
By Bao Tong
Bao-Tong-305.jpg Bao Tong during an interview at his home in Beijing, April 27, 2009.

"Those who understand me will do so through the Spring and Autumn Annals; those who condemn me will also do so because of the Spring and Autumn Annals."

According to my understanding of the Spring and Autumn Annals, this is a reproach to those who seek perfection. So now, I will award Premier Wen 59 marks. This is as high as he can possibly get. One mark more, and he would have passed.

Wen's speech is a reflection of collective wisdom among [China's] leadership. He has clearly and precisely communicated the collective wisdom that the leadership has managed to accrue thus far. Within those bounds beyond which he cannot step, he has made some excellent statements, and he should get a high mark.

It is my guess that the leadership hasn't discussed political reforms. Judging from Wen's replies on the issues of Tibetan self-immolations, the selection of the Hong Kong chief executive and village-level elections, he stayed well within the traditions of his predecessors without putting a foot wrong.

Especially on the question of the revised Criminal Procedure Law. He made no mention of protection for human rights enshrined in China's Constitution, nor did he talk about international human rights covenants. He limited his comments to the criminal procedural law alone, and made no mention of the way the draft amendment was pushed through obstinately ahead of the legal time frame by the office of the chairman of the National People's Congress (NPC). The way in which these measures were put before the NPC is a clear indication of a hard-line attitude, and is proof enough that the highest echelons of leadership have no intention of carrying out any political reform.

As for Premier Wen's own assertions about political reform, they are a reiteration of some old comments of Deng Xiaoping. It's important to know that these words formed part of a complete set of equipment manufactured by Deng Xiaoping 30 years ago, so if Deng Xiaoping can say them, why can't Premier Wen?

Obviously, the leadership has discussed the issue of Chongqing. "The current municipal Party committee and municipal government must reflect." This is Politburo members' assessment of Bo Xilai.

His references to the Cultural Revolution and standing the test of history were a criticism of Chongqing's anti-corruption campaigns ... In fact I would say that all of Premier Wen's comments on Chongqing were an exact repetition of the minutes of the Politburo discussion, verbatim; not a word out of place.

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.


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Mar 18, 2012 03:11 AM

Yes, Wen Jiabao is a strong supporter of authoritarian one-party rule, and though less benighted and despotic than his fellow oligarchs on the Standing Committee, deserves the high failing grade on his speech that Bao Tong gave him.