Officials at every level of government have been busy studying the speech made by President Hu Jintao marking the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party. There was a lot of high-sounding speech in this report, but I believe it had two faults:
1. The claims it makes of major accomplishments don't stand up.
2. The conclusions it reaches don't stand up.
President Hu said that the Party had achieved three great things in the 90 years since its founding. The first was that it had completed the new democratic revolution. The second was that it had set up a basic socialist system, and the third was that it had set in motion socialism with Chinese characteristics. The first two things really don't exist, and who can tell me whether the third is a good thing or a bad thing?
Under the leadership of the Communist Party, China hasn't once had an election worthy of the name. In the past 60-odd years, the right of Chinese citizens to vote, to freedom of expression, to form social organizations and to demonstrate have been like a painting of a cake that assuages no one's hunger.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, the Chinese Communist Party has issued annual warnings, telling people that they shouldn't expect or hope for free and universal elections. Such are the rights of Chinese citizens. So, the so-called democratic revolution which has been "completed" simply doesn't exist.
To tell whether or not a democratic revolution has happened, one must look at whether rural families have the right to possess the land which has been allocated to them. The "land to the tiller" program was initially put forward by the founder of the Kuomintang [National Party], Sun Yat-sen. The Communist Party should remember that during the civil war it relied on the promise of immediate land reforms for its victory over the nationalists, not on the guiding principles of communism. But after they had stripped the landlords of their land, they immediately appropriated all of the peasants' land and collectivized it. This is the tragedy of the Chinese peasants, and it is one of the biggest mistakes the Chinese Communist Party has ever made. As soon as they failed to implement the "land to the tiller" policy, the land inevitably became a money tree that the government, including the bureaucrats large and small within it, could harvest and distribute at will. There will be no stability in China for as long as rural communities are prevented from living and working in peace.
I don't know if anyone in China understands Marx's "socialism." I only know that, one by one, all the old leaders of the Chinese Communist Party before the Cultural Revolution [1966-1976], Liu [Shaoqi], Zhou [Enlai], Zhu [De], Chen [Yun], Lin [Biao] and Deng [Xiaoping] began to be regarded with contempt by Mao Zedong, who told them they lacked the political pedigree to discuss socialist theory. As for Mao Zedong's own "basic socialist system," it was copied straight out of chapters 10 and 11 of the History of the Soviet Communist Party, with a little bit of [Taoist] Five Pecks of Rice mumbo-jumbo thrown in. After Mao Zedong died, this system was thrown out by the Communist Party itself. Deng Xiaoping was very frank at the time, asking: "Can anyone really say what socialism is?"
China's current socio-economic system is one that is based on the allocation of wealth according to political power, in which Communist Party officials interfere with the market and hold a monopoly on natural resources. It clearly has some very Chinese characteristics, although it doesn't necessarily merit the term "socialism." Since the massacre of 1989, the gap between rich and poor in China has grown faster than in any other country, reaching a Gini coefficient that is close to the danger level linked to social rupture. In a reality where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, the president's high-flown talk of "establishing a basic socialist system" makes people not know whether to laugh or cry.
You can't just bandy about the term "socialism" at will. The right to interpret the phrase "Chinese characteristics" would seem to lie with the Communist Party Central Committee. Basically it seems that the term "socialism with Chinese characteristics" and "the China model" are one and the same. Neither has anything to do with socialism. They are simply a collective means to get together and work on big projects. This system was able to put on the Olympic Games, the Shanghai World Expo, and crank up GDP, as well as exploit natural resources and alter the environment, without thought to the cost, coming up with this, that or the other 'good reason,' carrying out this, that or the other 'solemn duty,' breeding innumerable injustices as it did so. It was highly efficient, tapping into an inexhaustible supply of labor and money in the face of a population that dared not oppose it. China's leaders can do whatever they want, getting good and evil deeds alike done on command. They are particularly good at turning good things into bad things in the process of implementing them, and at saying that bad things are, in fact, good things.
Who knows what new "tasks" the nation is going to be faced with after the Tiananmen [massacre] and the Three Gorges Dam? Who can be sure that the "China model" isn't simply a model for blind action with no thinking, or guarantee that it isn't simply a way to destroy the natural environment, visiting calamity upon our children and grandchildren?
President Hu takes as his starting point the "three major accomplishments" and concludes: "in fact, this is proof that history and the people chose the Chinese Communist Party." Even if you could make a case that there were such great achievements, it would still be hard for such a conclusion to have any legal meaning. According to the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, there are elections every five years in our country. So, while the phrase "history and the people chose the Communist Party" is a colorful conclusion to draw, it has no basis in law.
The choice of history should be decided by the passage of time. The choice of the people should be decided through elections according to law. It's not for President Hu to say whether history or the people have chosen his party.
Translated by Luisetta Mudie.