CHINA�S NPC CLOSES AMID PROMISES


2004.03.15
Share on WhatsApp
Share on WhatsApp

China�s parliamentary body, the National People�s Congress (NPC), wrapped up annual meetings March 14 amid further top-level promises to tackle poverty and corruption, but with no response to calls for a change to the official verdict on the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, RFA reports.

Around 3,000 delegates gathered at the Great Hall of the People passed a constitutional amendment protecting private property rights, in a major ideological shift wrought by necessity as the country struggles to move to a market economy.

Premier Wen Jiabao�who with President Hu Jintao is seeking to turn the grievances of ordinary people into his political territory�vowed to improve the lot of China�s 900 million rural residents and continue the fight against corruption in the Communist Party.

�It is my long-held view that the anti-corruption struggle is a major matter that has a bearing on the very survival of our party and our country,� Wen told a closing news conference in Beijing. �Chairman Mao admonished the entire party not to commit the mistake of becoming arrogant and adopting depraved lifestyles following our victory... There were some who failed that test.�

Wen said he could visualize some Chinese people �putting forward their requests and demands in sorrow.� But he gave short shrift to a question by a reporter from the official Xinhua news agency who asked his views on desperate people who petitioned Beijing leaders directly with grievances such as unpaid wages.

�Solving issues that affect the masses� fundamental interests is, fundamentally speaking, dependent on system, policies, and law. That�s all,� Wen said. Beijing police have cracked down harshly on petitioners and protesters during the NPC�s annual meeting, which ran from March 5-14 in the capital.

Wen also stopped short of addressing calls for a reappraisal of the mass protests of June 4, 1989, which were violently suppressed by People�s Liberation Army troops. But he avoided calling the movement a �counter-revolutionary rebellion,� as officials have labeled it, using an economic and pragmatic argument instead.

�At the end of the 1980s and in the beginning of the 1990s, China faced a serious political disturbance... At that critical moment, what hung in the balance was the destiny of our party and country,� Wen said in answer to a question about SARS whistleblower Jiang Yanyong, who called for a reassessment of the verdict in an open letter to China�s leader last week.

�Fifteen years have passed. During this time China has attained tremendous achievements in its reform, opening up, and socialist modernization drive. These achievements are self-evident to all. An important contributing factor is the fact that we have persistently safeguarded the unity of the whole party and safeguarded social and political stability in China,� he said. One woman who has pushed for the reassessment of the June 4 protests is Ding Zilin, who became a prominent activist against the Chinese government following the death of her son during the 1989 massacre.

�I had never held any hope that the issue of reevaluating the June 4 incident would be quickly resolved during the so-called �Hu-Wen New Administration.� � I think Wen Jiabao�s remarks yesterday about the June 4th massacre carried a milder tone and were not as reckless and unreasonable as that of Li Peng and Jiang Zemin. But it�s the same in nature. However, this should not impede people�s calls and demands to resolve the issue.�

Wen said the greatest difficulty the Party faced was related to China�s peasant population, millions of whom suffer grinding poverty and oppression at the hands of corrupt officials. �We should never forget about the potential for chaos,� he said.

�[Wen�s speech] was extremely disappointing,� Lin Mu, assistant to former Chinese Communist Party leader Hu Yaobang, told RFA. �He was not even evasive and vague in his remarks as some leaders have been. Rather, he was express and definite that the action [of the government on June 4] was sensible and meritorious.�

�In reality, he affirmed that the June 4 massacre was a great achievement. This indicates that his stance on this issue has not fundamentally changed. He stands in opposition with people on this fundamental issue,� Lin said.#####

POST A COMMENT

Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.