Where Is the Path?

China has yet to produce an opposition leader who can be to China what Nelson Mandela was to South Africa, Lech Walesa was to Poland, Kim Dae Jung was to South Korea, or Aung San Suu Kyi is to Burma—who can build a strong and united opposition party.
Translated by Luisetta Mudie
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By a listener in China, name withheld

After June 4, 1989, a lot of people predicted that the Chinese Communist Party would fall from power in the next few years. Today, amid all the petitioning, civil rights movements, protests, and mass incidents, there are also people who say that the Party is faltering, and that it’s just a question of when it will fall. I think that these views are too one-sided and that they fail to take sufficient account of the huge resilience and unifying power of the Party and of the difficulties inherent in China’s journey toward democracy. This is blind optimism, and faith and confidence in China’s ability to achieve democracy must also be tempered with a willingness to face objective reality.

If you start counting from the [1978-79] Democracy Wall movement in Beijing’s Xidan Street, then China’s democracy movement is about 30 years old. It has produced some admirable people, all of whom have made a great contribution to the democratic cause. The sad thing is that China has yet to produce a key opposition politician or leader who can be to China what Nelson Mandela was to South Africa, Lech Walesa was to Poland, Kim Dae Jung was to South Korea, or Aung San Suu Kyi is to Burma—someone who can build a strong and united opposition party. Today’s democracy activists, organizations, and political parties are fragmented and disunited. I believe that this is the main reason that democracy for China still seems a very long way off.

We must oppose the authoritarianism of the Chinese Communist Party. We must win the support of the Chinese people and of the international community. We must be united, and we must democratically elect a key figure to lead us. Only then will China have begun its journey towards democracy.

China’s Communist Party has been in business on the Chinese mainland for 60 years, and it controls all the country’s resources. It is resolutely opposed to the establishment of democracy in China, and it won’t budge an inch from its four basic principles, because they are its political lifeline. This just shows how little confidence such a large Party with tens of millions of members has in itself…

If, as the Party claims, the Chinese people would choose the Communist Party, then why do they continue to refuse to allow them to do so in the form of the right to vote in an election? Deep in their hearts, Chinese people know the answer. If the United Nations were to force China to choose, the Party would accept anything that would allow it to preserve its lifeline, even if that meant allowing [former Taiwan president] Chen Shuibian to become U.N. Secretary General or allowing the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan government-in-exile a seat on the U.N. Security Council. Because the Chinese Communist Party understands only too well that once you lose political power, you lose everything.

In recent years, the Party has called on its officials to improve their ability to run the country. What this really means is that the Party must cling to political power and protect its own interests, and deceive and ridicule the Chinese people. In this way they hope to win long-term legitimacy and the trust of the people for their continued rule. The Chinese Communist Party is forever adjusting its strategy in the face of the global trend towards democratization, and unceasingly seeking to strengthen its claim to rule. A democratic China is truly a long way off.

RFA’s Mandarin service asked its listeners in China to submit essays of up to 500 words related to the Chinese government’s deadly June 4, 1989 crackdown on protesters in and around Tiananmen Square in Beijing. These are some of their recollections.


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