The Unspoken Subtext of a Strange Piece of Writing

A commentary by Bao Tong
china-fourleaders-march2013.gif (L-R) China's President Hu Jintao, his successor Xi Jinping, Premier Wen Jiabao and his sucessor Li Keqiang (2nd Row) clap at a meeting of the National People's Congress in Beijing, March 5, 2013.

The appearance of the [Aug. 1 Xinhua commentary] article by Wang Xiaoshi is a big development. Some people say that the article is supported by "important comrades at the center of the Communist Party," which I believe. It would be unthinkable for an article containing such irresponsible remarks to be published simultaneously in the four big [Party] mouthpieces and websites without an order from the highest levels of leadership.

The article draws two conclusions. One is that the breakup of the Soviet Union brought misery, and that if China were to undergo an upheaval, the result could only be even more misery.

The second is that social upheaval in China will be "triggered" by "rumor-mongering," "incitement," and "invective," on the part of those who support the model of constitutional politics.

Both of these judgments are mendacious and alarmist.

It is odd that a Chinese person should seek to determine whether the breakup of the Soviet Union brought misery or not. It is even stranger that this person should take as an a priori fact that things would be "even more miserable" for China.

Why will things go even worse in China? Let's see what this person has to say. In the whole article, he can only come up with one argument; that China's per capital natural resources are less abundant than those of the Soviet Union.

In a situation where per capita natural resources are more scarce, the inevitable "misery" is blamed on the implementation of constitutional government ... as is the contention that things can only be "much worse" [if a similar upheaval were to take place in China.]

By this logic, all countries should steer well clear of constitutional government!

The entire purpose of this strange piece of writing appears to lie in these universal truths. Anything that wins the support of "important comrades at the center of the Communist Party" must surely have some connection to these universal truths.

Upheaval, injustice

China is suffering from a multitude of serious diseases at the moment. Institutionalised pollution, endemic corruption, systemic injustice: all of these are sicknesses, as are both the state-sponsored lying exemplified in this article by Wang Xiaoshi, and the widening gulf between rich and poor which has developed so quickly in the past 20 years, the like of which the world has never seen.

The whole of China is in the midst of social upheaval and mired in injustice, the roots of which are to be found in these diseases.

The way Wang Xiaoshi sees it, all of these disasters can be traced to the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, to the rights and interests of its citizens laid down by the Constitution. The solution lies in continuing to uphold a single-party dictatorship, and getting rid of the rights of citizens as enshrined in law.

[This would mean] that the people would have no choice but to submit, no opportunity to supervise officials, and no way to insist on justice, equity or transparency. Only then will we be able to ensure that China never changes, and that it remains forever the playground of the rich, the powerful, and the corrupt.

Such is the unspoken subtext of this odd article, the premise upon which its self-referential truths depend.

There is no need for me to point out the ridiculous nature of this writer's attempt to bamboozle you, or how lame his scare tactics are.

All I want to say is that the only people who will be taken in or frightened by this stuff are the "important comrades at the center of the Communist Party." It's not going to work on the citizens of China.

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.

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