HONG KONG—A former top official in China's Communist Party has called on patriotic Chinese to "return power to the people" and push for full democracy ahead of the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic.
Sixty years after peasant leader Mao Zedong proclaimed the People's Republic of China from Tiananmen Square on Oct. 1, 1949, former top Party aide Bao Tong said the Party has never admitted its mistakes.
"All of the great mistakes at a national level with far-reaching consequences were committed under the planning and leadership of the Communist Party," wrote Bao, a former aide to disgraced late Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang.
"The People's Republic of China is not a republic at all. This is a sort of pathology," he said.
"It consists in the systemic erosion of the rights of citizens to all sorts of things, including elections and private property, by the Party leadership over the last 60 years."
'Progress' under the Party
In an essay penned from his Beijing home, where Bao has been held under house arrest since returning from a seven-year jail term in the wake of the 1989 student-led pro-democracy movement, Bao poured scorn on the wave of official praise for China's progress under the Party.
"Hidden troubles shouldn't be allowed to remain packaged up in talk of 'great and mighty results,' for the sake of our children, our grandchildren, and all their descendants," he wrote.
Behind the talk of "prosperity" and "the rise of China" lies rampant official corruption and an ever-widening gap between rich and poor, Bao said.
"Behind the words 'hard reasoning of development' lies the plunder of natural resources and the laying waste of the environment," he added.
He delineated a "collapse of personal freedoms, religious freedom, ethnic autonomy, and freedoms of speech, protest and demonstration" behind the government's emphasis on stability.
Call for elections
"How should a patriot show their love and concern for their country?" Bao wrote.
"By returning power to the people and building a republic," said Bao, who called on Chinese people to educate themselves about what full, direct elections actually mean.
"If we are to cash in on [promises of] democracy, openness, competition and meritocracy, universal direct elections are inevitable," he wrote.
"Otherwise that particular check will undoubtedly bounce."
"China is in dire need of a period of education and enlightenment about what is really meant by a 'republic' and what is really meant by 'universal, direct elections.'"
Bao said that no political party should be given the right to field an approved list of candidates, or to interfere with the right of any candidate to enter the field or to take up their post if they are elected.
"The legitimacy of a republic rests on universal, direct elections. It is the sacred duty of every patriotic citizen to promote universal, direct elections in which there is true competition between candidates," Bao wrote.
Chinese authorities are implementing a nationwide security clampdown ahead of the Oct. 1 National Day celebrations, closing key Web sites and discussion boards, and detaining people who try to lodge complaints in Beijing about local governments.
The anniversary comes as Beijing struggles to quell ethnic tensions in China's northwest and to silence outspoken dissidents, petitioners, and civil rights lawyers, who have been warned not to use the occasion to protest against the government.
Original essay by Bao Tong. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Translated and written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.