China Has Come Full Circle: Former Top Official


Bao Tong gives a rare television interview. Photo: AFP

China's socialist politics have turned full circle with the advent of new property legislation, leaving the country "back where it started," a former top Communist Party official has said.

Bao Tong, former secretary to disgraced late premier Zhao Ziyang, said the law protecting private property rights, passed by China's parliament Friday, represented the "final bankruptcy" of Mao Zedong's brand of Chinese communism.

"It means the final bankruptcy of the theories and policies of the 'transitional stage' of socialism proposed by Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong in 1953," wrote Bao in an essay broadcast Friday on RFA's Mandarin service.

History must be rewritten

It means the final bankruptcy of the theories and policies of the 'transitional stage' of socialism proposed by Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong in 1953.

"It means that after repeated twists and turns for more than half a century, China has finally come full circle. Back to where it started."

China's contemporary history must effectively be rewritten, Bao said, because the first half of the communist movement in China had taken the abolition of private property as its central principle.

"The result was the blatant plunder of private property in the name of the nation and the people, and the loss of any stable basis for the continuance of socialism, throwing the entire country into a continual process of upheaval," Bao said.

He said the 40 million who died in the civil war, and the other 40 million who lost their lives in the famine of the Great Leap Forward (1958) and the violence of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) were a "high tuition fee paid in blood" for this history lesson.

Rampant corruption

"The second half of this circle was marked by the silent cries of ordinary Chinese citizens amid the bloodshed and horror of the 1989 massacre," Bao said, adding that the era of market-driven economics also paved the way for an ever-widening gap between rich and poor.

"Those with houses close to the water saw the moon first, with an increase in both prosperity levels, and in corruption," Bao said.

"We saw the creation of millionaires, multi-millionaires, and billionaires. We saw a lot of people get rich quickly at township, county, city, provincial, and national levels."

Bao said it was too soon to judge whether the property law would have any effect on massive official corruption, by protecting the rights of individuals in their everyday lives, where they frequently face land-grabs from local officials keen to cash in on lucrative property deals.

"Some people have advanced the view that having a law is better than not having one. But I wonder what sort of effect it can possibly have, for good or ill, in real life. I wouldn't want to speak too soon," he said.

Original essay by Bao Tong, broadcast exclusively on RFA's Mandarin service. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Translated and written in English for the Web by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.


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