Classicial References in President Xi Jinping’s Speeches

President Xi Jinping’s references to the classics is not being innovative for a PRC leader. He is in line with a trend of the past decade or more of praising Confucius and drawing lessons from him that serve the purpose of the Party. Ten years ago there was a TV series lectures on Confucius that was popular and later released as a book and DVDs. The name Confucius Institute is also a sign of this, naturally with a Party spin on Confucius.

That has a long tradition in China.   Mao Zedong discussed this use of Confucius with his nephew Mao Yuanxin during the Criticize Confucius campaign.   Mao said “If you look at history, you’ll see that revolutionaries all start by criticizing Confucius.  But when they get into power, they all invite him back.” Mao added that every dynasty and ruler dresses Confucius up in their own way to strengthen their rule.  Mao said that Confucius and other great thinkers of the past are the heart of Chinese culture and we should study them, but the idealism in his thinking especially as it has been distorted by past rulers for their own purposes, we must reject.  Mao said “We communists got started by criticizing Confucius.  But we must not follow the path of past rulers of criticizing but then praising him later.  If the day ever comes when we for the sake of strengthening our position bring out Confucius for thought work with the people, then we will have fallen into the old cycle.  That can’t work. If the Communist Party gets to the point where it cannot govern or runs into trouble, and invites Confucius back, that will mean that we’ll be finished soon.”

The quote I found on a Chinese website outside of China and it appears on a number of anti-communist websites.  That may be because it is true and censored in China.  Or because it makes a nice story and somebody made it up!  In any case the argument is plausible (one of my erudite Chinese friends made the same argument when I asked him about Confucius and Chinese politics a few years ago) even if the source is not reliable.



How is the effort being viewed inside China?

Quoting Confucius or other wise sayings or literary references to make a point or settle an argument is common in China.  It is like bible-thumping in some parts of the US.  A clever unscrupulous person can use it to prove almost anything.

If this is part of a sustained strategy, what comes next?

Well, a long running propaganda strategy of identifying China with the so-called 5000 year old China and stressing the continuity between the various states that followed one another or co-existed in the Chinese territorial space.  I remember reading a book for training Chinese tour guides that made the point that stressing the continuity of Chinese history is an important aspect of patriotic education.   Reality is much more complicated; the PRC seems to have been founded twice Mao in ’49 and then Deng in ’78 with reform and opening.  Reconciling the first and second thirty years of the PRC is difficult.

Zheng Yongnian郑永年 of Singapore National University, a Beijing University grad and Princeton political science PhD  argues that Xi wants to create a synthesis from the Mao –  Deng contradiction (sounds weird but Marx pushed the  thesis, anti-thesis, synthesis idea, and he sees Xi trying to carve out his own space as the man of his era.  See  Zheng’s essay  Xi Jinping’s Political Road Map  郑永年:习近平的政治路线图

One special characteristic of Xi is the centralization of power (the new institutional arrangements to reduce the decentralization of power in China.   There was also much concern with corruption at the start of Hu Jintao’s term as Party Secretary.  The difference with Xi is that there is change in the institutional arrangements of the party investigative apparatus — plus up the numbers and stationing them at provincial and local counterpart agencies rather than working through those agencies — that are making possible the much longer-lasting quasi-permanent anti-corruption campaign underway since Xi took office.

How (if at all) will this approach affect China’s internal/external behavior?

The merging of the idea of cultural area and state stresses continuity — looking back on 5000 years rather than just the 60-odd years of New China PRC (handy for expansive territorial claims) and pride in one’s culture.

Many Chinese feel they have had a tough 150 years or so and finally things are getting back to normal, with China playing a major role.

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Yanhuang Chunqiu 炎黄春秋老被删除的网站移民(移站?)到美国去了

The Party does frustrate both historians and armchair historians by deleting great stuff from websites such as that of the fine historical journal Yanhuang Chunqiu.

Yanhuang Chunqiu is up now at   Sad to say, some of the most interesting articles on modern Chinese history have been deleted.

If only Francois Villon had had the Internet 500 years ago, he might have asked the question that devastates historians and amateurs alike — “Oh but where are the web postings of yesteryear?”  instead of  what he did say — “where are the snows of yesteryear?” (Mais où sont les neiges d’antan!   (See )

Fortunately, if Francois were with us today he would have help.

Sadly for the Party’s noble efforts to protect clean livin’ and clean thinkin’ in China, I got this response: “  Saved 437 times between July 23, 2008 and March 15, 2015. ” with links to copies of earlier versions of the website.

Yanhuang Chunqiu turns out not to be the best example.  Many of the article pages are not available although discussions are.  This may be because, as the Internet Archive Frequently Asked Questions file explains, some websites use javascripting to contact the original website to get a complete URL.

See for yourself at*/

Internet Archive record of dates Yanhuang Chunqiu website was archived

The Internet Archive since 2008 has taken periodic scans of the Yanhuang Chunqiu website so some disappeared articles may still live on the Internet Archive.  Not all by any means since an article may have been posted and censored between scans.  But worth checking.
I don’t know how many Chinese mainland websites are archived.
You can help by suggesting on an Internet Archive page websites that may one day run afoul of the censors.  So if you have a favorite endangered website, put in the URL at

Here is what the Wikipedia has to say about Yanhuang Chunqiu:

Yanhuang Chunqiu (Chinese: 炎黄春秋; pinyin: Yánhuáng Chūnqiū), sometimes translated as China Through the Ages, is a liberal[1] reformist monthly journal in the People’s Republic of China, created in 1991. Its foundation was largely due to the effort of General Xiao Ke.[2] The current publisher is Du Daozheng (杜导正).

Yanhuang Chunqiu is the liberal counterpart of the conservative website Wuyouzhixiang (Utopia)[3] and the nationalist newspaper Global Times.

In July 2010, Yanhuang Chunqiu published a memoir by retired Politburo member Yang Rudai praising Zhao Ziyang. It marked a rare break of the long-standing taboo in China against mentioning the former leader since he was ousted after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.[4] In January 2013, Yanhuang Chunqiu ’​s website was temporarily shutdown by the Chinese government after it published an editorial urging the implementation of constitutional rights.[5]

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Gramophonics Ballad “Deng Xiaoping” Sings of Modern China

After much persuasion, the Gramophonic lead singer for the bilingual ballad Deng Xiaoping has finally allowed me to tell you about it. The ballad tells the story of Deng Xiaoping and China’s reform and opening in American folk song idiom. “Deng Xiaoping” works as both art and as Chinese modern history. It may even help students cramming for their modern Chinese history exam. Or at least get them to relax.

A snatch of lyrics from “Deng Xiaoping” to stir your interest:

“Deng Xiaoping, Deng Xiaoping
Five foot tall but a tough little thing
Let cats catch mice all through the land

Deng was mighty sore
When the posters called for more
Demand for change just wouldn’t be condoned!

Tao your guang and yang your hui

We’ll have a xiaokang shehui someday

Gramophonic Sings "Deng Xiaoping"

Gramophonic Sings “Deng Xiaoping”

The band Gramophonic plays regularly to audiences in the Washington, DC area.

Watch the Deng Xiaoping ballad on Youtube:

The website:


Twitter handle is @gramophonicdc

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Zheng Yongnian: Xi Jinping’s Political Roadmap

Translator comment: Prof. Zheng Yongnian graduated from Beijing University, got his PhD in Political Science from Princeton and now directs the East Asia Institute at the Singapore National University.

One of the enduring characteristics of the Chinese political system is its decentralization under the “dual leadership system”.  According to this system, functional bureaus and departments at the various local levels are under the leadership of both the corresponding bureau/department or ministry at the next higher administrative level and by the Party/government leader at their own level.  In practice, since the local level controls the budget, the local level influence is often much stronger than the influence from higher levels.  Sometimes Chinese academics point to this characteristic weakness of the dual leadership system.  China appears to be by its nature a federal system yet without the federal institutions that could tie it together and makes its institutions more effective.

To be fair, however, one of the strengths of China’s decentralized political system has been the willingness to allow localities to implement policy according to local conditions.  The dual leadership system with its characteristic phrasing of top level guidance as “opinions” does have its strengths, however.  Policy experiments in areas such as birth planning policy (a literal translation of what is usually referred to as family planning) and in land policy reform in selected counties and cities have often preceded adoption at the national level.

Press censorship dims the view of the local government from the center although an elaborate system of intelligence collection by an array of agencies from the Xinhua Press Agency confidential internal only “press” reports for middle and senior leaders to reports to senior leaders by the Ministry of State Security, the Ministry of Public Security, and the Tiananmen Guards. Chinese intelligence collection is much more focused on domestic issues and political stability than on potential external threats.   In practice, the center knows more than it lets on about local corruption and abuse of power, but seems to prefer not to crack down until it is in a position to do something about a problem (perhaps not to appear weak) or local anger breaks out with severe protests or violence that local officials are unable prevent the center from knowing in a difficult-to-deny manner.

Professor Zheng believes that Communist Party Xi Jinping is moving the PRC away from the “dual leadership system” to a more centralized system that will enable China’s leadership to fight endemic corruption more effectively.  Zheng sees bold leadership from the top by the good and wise leader Xi Jinping as the essential force that will make possible an array of economic, social and political reforms of the next thirty years will make China a much more prosperous, just and democratic country than it is today.  Zheng sees Xi leading an opening up of the Communist Party to real democratic participation in decision-making by the 80 million Chinese Communist Party members.   Zheng says that if the Party does not open up, it will become merely the tool of special interest groups.   Zheng sees the rising power of special interest groups to be a critical problem for China that has become worse during the leadership of former Communist Party secretaries Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao.

Zheng’s analysis of Xi’s program is interesting.  The question that must be asked is to what extent can a great man be trusted?  There is a precedent in the case of Deng Xiaoping who tied the future of China and the Communist Party (both near collapse after the Cultural Revolution) to a program of opening and reform.  Some Chinese historians see Deng as leading a second founding of the PRC since the policy direction of the first thirty years and second thirty years of the PRC were so different.  Zheng expects Xi will be the third major figure in PRC history after Mao and Deng and expects that his imprint will be on China’s next three decades as Mao’s was on the first 30 years and Deng’s on the second 30 years.   Perhaps Xi will be able to tie the regime to a reform program so that it will have great impetus despite setbacks just as Deng’s program of opening and reform did survive the Chinese nationwide protests and bloodbaths of June 1989.

Zheng Yongnian: Xi Jinping’s Political Roadmap

October 16, 2014

[original Chinese text below and at ]

On October 4, the famous China expert Professor Zheng Yongnian gave a talk in Singapore. Prof. Zheng gave his predictions on China’s future political development. He also presented concepts on the Xi Jinping era along with his personal views on the anti-corruption campaign, political reform, Xi Jinping’s charisma, and the fourth session of the Party Congress which is about to open. Phoenix University obtained the exclusive rights from the professor to present selected parts of the presentation to our readers.

Introducing the author:

Zheng Yongnian: China expert, currently director of the East Asia Institute of Singapore National University, professor, chief editor of “International Journal of Chinese Studies” and “East Asia Policy”, and author of publications such as “Globalization and China’s Transformation”, “China Behaves Like a Federal System”, and “Technological Empowerment: The Internet, State, and Society in China”.

The talk is presented below.

China is now entering the true post-Deng era. Xi Jinping Picks Up the Torch from Mao and Deng, Plans for the Next Thirty Years

Zheng Yongnian: I will only speak for an hour today in order to allow time for questions. You may ask any question you please. I won’t focus on China’s domestic politics because China’s domestic politics are particularly difficult to understand. You can get a fairly good understanding the Hong Kong issue, China-Japan relations and other issues by reading the papers. Where I touch on China’s domestic politics, I will discuss what Xi Jinping’s recent speeches. As our moderator said, China has already changed considerably in the two years since Xi Jinping took office. People outside China are always asking what is Xi Jinping doing? What is he thinking? Actually many Chinese are asking: Where is our country, this ship of state, going? Xi Jinping is the captain, and I want to answer the question what direction is China’s ship of state heading.

Today I will present my personal views. I am not representing my Institute. There are just some personal observations. I think that in order to understand what Xi Jinping is doing, we need first to understand just what is the Chinese Communist Party. In China, the Chinese Communist Party is a tremendously important organization. When it comes to other countries, people will talk such things about the power of civil society and of society. But for China, the Communist Party is still the principal organization. There is no organization in China that can challenge it. There are strong forces in Chinese society but there is no force in Chinese society that can challenge the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese Communist Party is the chief actor in China’s reforms. I wrote a book about the political parties. I believe that that the Chinese Communist Party is not a political party in the sense that a party is by those who are not Communist Party members. It is not like the Democrats or the Republicans in the United States, not like Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party and not like parties like Singapore’s People’s Action Party (PAP). It is a different kind of organization.

The Chinese Communist Party has been in power for a long time and so it needs to take a long-term perspective. Long range goals are very important. Elsewhere, most other countries have a multiparty system in which parties only think about what may happen during the term in office of a president or a premier. They don’t think beyond their term in office. There are not many political parties that take such a long term view as Singapore’s People’s Action Party. There are fewer and fewer such parties today. Therefore we need to keep in mind that Xi Jinping cannot think only about himself. The Chinese Constitution limits the State Chairman to ten years in office but Xi cannot just think of his two five-year terms in office. Personally, I think what he is thinking about now is about are the three decades that will follow his coming to power. That makes him different from Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao.

Let me explain this idea. I believe that Chinese history since 1949 can be divided into 30 years of Mao Zedong and thirty years of Deng Xiaoping. It is very important that today Xi Jinping is thinking about the next thirty years. The Communist Party led by Mao Zedong came to power in 1949. What he should have done after coming to power was to build the country and build a system. Unfortunately, Mao was an idealist and so he continued in his revolutionary ways after 1949. The result was many social problems and in particular the Cultural Revolution. Deng Xiaoping learned the lessons of the Mao Zedong era and put China on the path of modernization and national construction for thirty years. Looking at matters this way, we can see that the ten years each of Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao both belong to the 30 years of Deng Xiaoping. Today we are truly entering the post-Deng era although the Hu Jintao era can be thought of a decade of transition from the Deng Xiaoping era to the post Deng Xiaoping era. Now we have formally entered the post-Deng era. Xi Jinping is thinking about the next 30 years. The basic idea is that Mao Zedong was the first generation, Deng Xiaoping the second generation and Xi Jinping the third generation.

Xi Jinping Strives to Create a Synthesis of the Historical Contradictions Between the Mao and Deng Eras

Xi has a great deal of work to do to create the conditions that will make this possible. From my perspective, Xi has been very successful since he took office.

First, he has striven to make Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping less contradictory – that is he is working to create a synthesis. As we all know, in China, there are fierce debates between the left and the right. The left is relatively more inclined towards Mao Zedong and the right relatively inclined towards Deng Xiaoping. Now they have now split into two factions that engage in bloody battles and refuse to speak to each other. What Xi Jinping has done is to create a synthesis of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. I think he has done the right thing. History cannot be cut into neat periods. If there had been no Mao Zedong, there would have been no Deng Xiaoping. As a scholar, I think Xi has done this well. There are solemn commemorations of the births of both Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. After all, history is history. A recent television movie about Deng Xiaoping was very popular. The film gradually returned to historical consciousness some facts that had been forgotten. Our former Premier Zhao Ziyang also appeared in the film. That is because the fierce struggles of the previous generation are over so later generations need not have the same evaluation of those struggles as the older generation. Xi has done this well. But he still faces big challenges.

The course of reform over the next thirty years is another issue facing Xi. What will reform be accomplished? Many people ask me why Xi set out on such a big anti-corruption campaign. This anti-corruption campaign is unlike previous anti-corruption campaigns. Today I will discuss my understanding of Xi Jinping’s reforms in their political, economic and social dimensions.

Xi Jinping is ending the dispersal of power and moving towards centralization. This is extremely important.

First of all, from a political perspective, the most important thing that Xi Jinping has done is to end the dispersal of power and move China towards the centralization of power. I believe that this is very important. Ever since Deng’s reforms began in China in 1978, every reform has involved decentralization. The 80s were a decade of decentralization. The reforms that followed Deng’s trip to southern China were also decentralizing. During Premier Zhu Rongji’s term, China began to centralize economically but the whole era of Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao was one of decentralization. The decentralization of those days was not a the center deliberately decentralizing, it was rather the result of the center’s inability to centralize. Why does China today need to centralize? Xi Jinping says that the easy reforms have already been done and the ones that are difficult haven’t been done. The days of eating meat are past: now we have to gnaw on the bones. Gnawing on bones is tough, so we need to centralize. That is the first reason.

The second reason is that special interests grew very powerful during the 30 years of opening and reform. Special interests became an obstacle to reform. When China’s reforms began, everybody was very poor. Poverty makes it easier for people to change their thinking and so reform was easier to accomplish. Everybody is selfish. If you free up the selfish character of people, then all you have to do is to tell them to go out and make money and they will. However, reform is not just a matter of economics, it is also political and social. If you separate reform into economic reform, social reform and political reform, then economic reform is the easiest to do. Economic reform is encouraging everybody to make money. Social reform is everybody putting aside some money to give to the poor. That is harder. Political reform is even harder since it means taking power away from the people who have it. Therefore the easy reforms have all been done and what is left are the reforms that need to be done but are hard to do. Centralization of power is needed. Today, special interests have grown up that believe that things are just fine as they are. They say no more change. When everybody was hungry, everybody wanted things to change. Today, the people who eat well don’t want things to change. Some have eaten so much that they can barely move. They too don’t want to change. What is to be done? If you want reform, you need centralization of power.

The most important thing is that the centralization of power is ending the dispersal of power that characterized the era of Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao. When Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao came to power, they too wanted to get many things done. I remember how after SARS they put forth policy objectives such as the harmonious society and the scientific view of development. They set out a big road map. Why didn’t they succeed? Of course they did have some accomplishments such as social security and guaranteeing a minimum income. But they never made a breakthrough in reform. Why? The fault was in the system. That system was what was called at the time the “collective leadership system”. Then it was the nine members of the Standing Committee of the Politburo. The Standing Committee of the Politburo is China’s highest policy making body. In the Politburo, the rule is essentially one man, one vote. Everyone is equal. One man, one vote is a big problem.

Professor Hu Angang of Qinghua University is an old friend of mine. He says that which China has a collective president system, the United States has a single president system. He says that we have nine presidents and that a collective presidency is better than a one-man presidency. But it doesn’t work really work that way. If you have a collective presidency, at the end you may have no president at all since collective responsibility means in the end that nobody is responsible. Collective leadership in the end means no leadership at all. That won’t do. The most important aspect of any political system is that there is someone who bears ultimate political responsibility. The nine person one man, one vote system of the Chinese Politburo means that everybody counterbalances everybody else. Sometimes I jokingly saw that while the West has the tripartite separation of powers political system, China has a nine-way separation of powers system. Why did someone like Zhou Yongkang appear? The problem is in the design of the top level of the system. The top level design of the system is that the nine standing members of the Politburo split power nine ways – you handle this sector and I’ll handle that sector. This is a system of fiefdoms – a kind of feudalism. The case of Zhou Yongkang clearly demonstrates that that system of dividing up responsibility does not work.

I think the main problem with the top leadership failed was because everyone was vetoing everybody else. Nobody was subordinate to anyone else. In that era, people grumbled that they didn’t know who was in charge. The result of this kind of system was not only that often nothing got done but it created Zhou Yongkang as well. Therefore what we need today is the centralization of power. I believe that Xi Jinping’s judgment is exactly right.

Let’s take an example. Vietnam’s reforms used to follow China’s closely step-by-step. If China made a certain reform then Vietnam would make the same reform. But now things are working out for Vietnam. Why? Just because Vietnam’s leaders decided to go in the opposite direction from China. While China is moving towards increasing centralization of power, power in Vietnam is very divided. Now Vietnam is like an oxcart with four drivers. There is the General Secretary of the Vietnamese Communist Party, then there is the Premiers, the National Assembly and the President. They are four different people. The groups that they are leading are very divided. Analysts say that Vietnam is in a dangerous situation. The recent riots in Vietnam were very dangerous. You shouldn’t be surprised if one day there is a “color revolution” in Vietnam because the necessary conditions for that already exist.

Xi Jinping established centralized leadership by small working groups. These small working groups are open and can be institutionalized.

Everyone is a bit worried about the centralization of power going on today. People are asking the question, ‘Is this centralization being done just to strengthen the personal power of the leader?’ Naturally to answer that question, we’ll have to keep watching. But from what I have seen to date, I think Xi Jinping is doing well. The centralization of power underway is manifested in the founding of four new organizations. The first is the Leading Group for Deepening of Reform, the second is the Leading Group for Informatization and the Internet, the third is the National Security Council, and the fourth is the Leading Group for Military Reform. In addition to the Leading Group on Military Reform, which Xi Jinping as Chairman of the Central Military Commission, naturally leads, he leads the the other three leading groups as well. Premier Li Keqiang is the vice chair of all the leading groups. Formerly there were nine Politburo members. Now there are seven. In the previous system, each of the Politburo members led his own slice of the pie. Now it is different. Xi is in charge of everything. The other members of the Politburo are distributed among the various leading groups. I think this is a better system and one that is easier to coordinate.

There is another issue that has been ignored. There was some debate about Xi Jinping also leading the Central Leading Group on Finance. Some thought that Premier Li Keqiang should head that leading group. But they are wrong. The Central Leading Group on Finance should also be led by the General Secretary. In the Jiang era, Party General Secretary Jiang Zemin led it. What is more important is that formerly the central leading groups had an ‘underground’ character. Who chaired them, who was the vice chair, who the members were not disclosed to the public. Xi Jinping opened up the four leading groups so that they are formal organizations. Formalized organization are more open and transparent. When they meet, when they don’t meet, what they discussed is public information. Formal organizations can be institutionalized and can develop further.

Xi Jinping has been strongly influenced by people like Lee Kuan Yew. I don’t believe that he will follow Mao Zedong. He wants to inherit some different from Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. He wants to stress the continuity of Chinese history. He wants to follow the example of powerful Asia figures such as Lee Kuan Yew and Jiang Jingguo who were successful institution builders. At the fourth session of the Party Congress that will meet this month he will certainly have much to say about institution building. So don’t underestimate Xi Jinping. This kind of progress is extremely important.

Concentrating power also has negative effects. The fourth session of the 18th Party Congress will still be working at dividing powers.

There are negative consequences to the concentration of power. Some people will say, ‘Boss, the power is in your hands. You want to do something, go ahead. Other people will just watch.’ This is a problem. I believe that the concentration of power in itself is not the objective. Both Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang stress that the center will devolve the authority of oversight over administrative examination of applications for permission and their approval. [transl. Note – ref August 2012 and February 2014 State Council ]

Fighting Corruption Means Fighting Special Interest Groups, Fighting Monopolists and Fighting Oligarchs

The second point is that concentrating power is linked to the fight against corruption. Fighting corruption means fighting special interest groups. As a scholar, I just can’t understand the kind of corruption that we have seen in China in recent years. If you are corrupt and steal hundreds of thousands or millions of renminbi, I can understand. You can use that money to live a better life. But stealing billions, tens of billions or even hundreds of billions – that I can’t understand. You won’t be able to spend all that money in a lifetime. Therefore to fight corruption, we need to concentrate power. If we don’t have power, how can we fight corruption? Ever since the 1980s when Deng Xiaoping started anti-corruption campaigns, every group of top leaders has had to carry out anti-corruption campaigns. They have kept doing it down to this day. Given that, how can corruption still be as bad as it is today?

Today’s anti-corruption campaign differs from its predecessors. This anti-corruption campaign’s main target is the oligarchs. In the post-Soviet era, in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Ukraine there appeared oligarchs. During the preceding planned economy era, the economy was divided up into sectors such as industrial sector, steel, telecommunications and there was only one department controlling the entire field. Therefore during the transformation from the planned economy to the market economy, oligarchs emerged. However, once an economic oligarch has money, he wants to be a player in politics. Economic oligarchs became economic oligarchs. This is the biggest problem for post-Communist countries.

The era of Yeltsin in Russia was the era of the oligarchs. Only after Putin came to power was the power of the oligarchs brought under control. The problems of Ukraine today are the problems brought by political oligarchy. All their economic oligarchs changed into political oligarchs. One political party for each oligarch. Each oligarch would gather together their own people and then start fighting one another. Once the economic oligarchs had changed into political oligarchs, so-called democracy became merely a struggle between oligarchs. Once political oligarchs are created through the democratic process, that country is finished. I think there is no hope for Ukraine. Behind every Ukrainian leader is an oligarch. Some of them obey Russia, others America. Once a multiparty system appears, the country will be on the path to dissolution.

China’s situation is just like this. Before the Eighteenth Party Congress convened, some economic oligarchs had changed into political oligarchs and those political oligarchs were interfering in politics. Zhou Yongkang himself was a big oligarch who started meddling in politics. Today, the anti-corruption efforts of the top leadership focus on eliminating the pathway that enables an economic oligarch to change into a political oligarch. This is important. Once that is accomplished, the big and small tigers down below aren’t very important. Everyone can this in the current anti-corruption campaign. Why was it that most of the people who were caught had ties to Zhou Yongkang? This was true for people in many sectors from the Central Television Station to local political leaders, and even industrialists like Liu Han. Everybody saw this at the big dinner to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the founding of the PRC. Both Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin appeared at the dinner. I believe that Xi Jinping is wise. He doesn’t aim at particular individuals but at the groups. I believe that this is very important.

Fighting corruption takes political wisdom. Look, behind every anti-corruption case is a group of wealthy businesspeople. I believe however that the Communist Party’s Central Disciplinary Commission is taking a measured approach. If the businesspeople can be left along, they are left alone and left off the hook. Therefore there are only a very few cases like those of Liu Han. In fact, if they wanted to put them away, many businesspeople could be arrested. There was a great deal of corruption among Chinese businesspeople because of China’s previous policies and because of the gaps in the legal system during the period of transformation from a planned economy to a market economy. That is the nature of Chinese society. You can’t say it but you just do it. If you were to say what you are doing then people would be unhappy with you. I believe that Xi Jinping is doing very well.

Local officials must not do nothing for fear of getting caught. Doing nothing is the worst kind of corruption.

There are also, however, contradictions between fighting corruption and reform. Recently, I took a trip all around China. What I noticed is that all the officials at the office director and above spent their entire day worrying whether they would be detained the next day. Thinking about cases like the Guangzhou Municipality Party Secretary who was suddenly detained just as he was walking into a meeting, everyone is very worried. If you want to reform, you have to do something. But if you do something, you will be hurting someone’s interests. If you do that, people will be collecting materials to make you look bad. They might be together a file on what you have done and put it on the Internet. That would be a big problem for you. So everybody is just not doing anything.

Some local leaders are just plain dumb. Shanxi Province because they wanted to “cage up power in a box” made a negative list about what the Communist Party Provincial Committee leadership including the Provincial Party Secretary, the Governor, and the members of the Provincial Communist Party Standing Committee may not do. Many local leaders don’t put much of an effort into doing anything, not even into fighting corruption. That is very strange. It is as if even though they are the Provincial Party Secretary and the Governor, they lack political resources. That they occupy that position but for the sake of being a clean official just don’t do anything at all. That is also a kind of corruption. I believe that if you in order to stay clean don’t do anything, that is also a kind of corruption, and perhaps a more serious kind of corruption. There will certainly be problems in places like that. Today, most of the top officials in Shanxi Province have lost their positions. It is only to be expected that when you do business that you are honest. Doing nothing for the sake of staying clean is certainly a problem.

Some people whose interests are threatened keep on saying that this anti-corruption campaign will affect the Chinese economy. I said that is not a problem because you certainly don’t want China’s sustainable economic development to be built on a foundation of corruption. I believe that the anti-corruption campaign may hurt the economy in the short term but it will have a positive effect over the long term. For example, if the price of maotai falls, more ordinary people will be able to enjoy it. If the price doesn’t go down, then only the general managers of state enterprises will be able to afford to drink it. The anti-corruption campaign will certainly be very beneficial to China’s sustainable economic development over the long term.

There are few systems to stop corruption. The key question is who is responsible for these systems. If corrupt officials are responsible for them, then they will just be as corrupt as usual.

Is the anti-corruption campaign really a mass campaign? What everybody worries about is that Xi Jinping is imitating Mao Zedong-style mass campaigns against corruption. I think differently on this question. I strongly agree with Wang Qishan’s view that the problem is created by the people. He says that there are just so many corrupt officials who manipulate the system that even the best possible system would just create the same old kind of corruption. Therefore something different is needed. A system set up by honest people is a good system. A system set up by corrupt people is a corrupt system.

China has more anti-corruption systems than any country in the world. Singapore has only one Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau. Hong Kong has only one Independent Commission Against Corruption. Why are those two societies so honest? How many anti-corruption systems does China have? There is the Disciplinary and Inspection Commission

of the Chinese Communist Party, there is the government’s Corruption Prevention Bureau and the Anti-corruption Bureau, there are anti-corruption systems in the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Consultative Congress. Every university has one. But what we often see is that there people fighting corruption are actually themselves very corrupt. I think about former Beijing Municipality Vice Mayor Wang Baosen. He was the head of the Beijing Municipality Anti Corruption Bureau but he was himself very corrupt. How can this situation be tolerated? Wang Qishan made a proposal that I strongly agree with. First cure the symptoms and then cure the disease.

Anti-corruption systems themselves are not the answer. China already has many systems. The key question is the kind of system we have. Chinese intellectuals say that China is corrupt because of its one-party system because it concentrates power too much. I disagree. Power within China is too divided. China has so many directors and vice directors and it has so many anti-corruption organizations. But nobody assumes responsibility. Even worse, they give corrupt people many opportunities. In the end, who will take responsibility? In Singapore it is simple. If corruption occurs, it is the responsibility of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau. It cannot evade its responsibility by placing the blame elsewhere. Hong Kong is the same way.

The Central Disciplinary Commission is concentrating power to fight corruption. Wang Qishan is doing well.

China has very many agencies but just who is responsible? China needs to centralize power in order to fight corruption. Wang Qishan is doing well. Anti-corruption work being led by the Central Disciplinary Commission is going well. There are several aspects of their anti-corruption work that I think are being done very well. The first is further centralizing power. What does that mean? The various commissions of the Central Committee are not relying on their own devices to fight corruption. The people doing anti-corruption work for them are people sent down from the Central Disciplinary Commission. If there were corruption in the Ministry of Information Industry, then the Central Disciplinary Commission would send some people over. These anti-corruption officials are independent and have no ties to the information industry.

As for the relationship between the center and the localities, the Central Disciplinary Commission takes charge of fighting corruption at the first level down from the Center. China has always had the problem of “the boss is corrupt”. On Communist Party provincial committees, the secretary of the provincial disciplinary commission is subordinate to the secretary of the Communist Party committee. How can you expect then that the secretary of the provincial disciplinary commission do anti-corruption work against a corrupt provincial party secretary? Of course he can’t do it. Most anti-corruption work is just the right hand fighting the left hand. Now things are being handled better. Now the next level down is managed by the next higher level. This means that the Central Disciplinary Commission will be in charge of fighting corruption in the members of provincial committees. No longer will be the provincial committee be in charge of fighting its own corruption.

One more point. Anti-corruption work used to rely on ordinary citizens making reports. Now it is different. The last time that I visited the Party Central Disciplinary Commission, the person showing me around said that Wang Qishan said that we too need to reform ourselves. He set up a website for the Central Disciplinary Commission of the Communist Party. Why? You can still make a report, anyone can make a report on the website of the Central Disciplinary Commission. Now it is centralized. You don’t need to go to Hong Kong anymore to make a report. This is very effective. Now the Central Disciplinary Commission receives many reports. They are sorted into categories. Some are handled directly by the center while others are the business of the provincial party committee and so are sent to the top level of the provincial committee for handling.

Xi Jinping has is very bold man. I am confident about China’s political and economic development.

Naturally, the most important issue is what kind of system shall we build? What will the Fourth Session of the Eighteenth Congress of the Chinese Communist Party do? I believe that there will be many reform proposals. Many people do not understand what Xi Jinping is doing. For example reforming how official vehicles may be used. Former Premier Zhu Rongji wanted this reform, but when the reform plan came out, many people opposed it and so it was abandoned. But now Xi Jinping wants to carry out this reform. I believe Xi Jinping has the boldness of a leader. Xi Jinping is able to look beyond his own personal interest. He is a leader who sees the big picture. I think that any national leader, and any leader of a party organization, if they can’t see the big picture, they will end up merely serving their own private interest. That is the “virtue” which thousands of years of Chinese tradition speaks about. You need virtue. If you don’t have virtue, then how could you manage a country like China.

I have confidence in Chinese politics. As far as the economy goes, people worry that the economy is under too much pressure and so wonder that there will be so big shakeup. Growth last year was 7.5%, we don’t know what the figure will be this year. I personally don’t think there is a serious problem. There is no way that the Chinese economy will be able to grow at a pace of 8% or greater indefinitely. All economies are alike this way. The Four Dragons of East Asia are that way too. Their era of rapid growth has ended. China has already entered a phase of moderate growth at the 6 – 7% level. That is enough. Why did people say in the time of Premier Wen Jiabao that China had to maintain an 8% growth rate. The main reason was to keep the unemployment rate low as millions of new workers joined the Chinese work force. In recent years the economy has been slowing down but employment is rising. This means that the Chinese economy is undergoing structural changes with the growth of the service sector and rise in domestic consumption. I believe that over the next ten to fifteen years including Xi Jinping’s time in office China should be able to maintain 7% growth.

Today Chinese per capita income is about USD 7000. China has already built its large scale infrastructure and has completed its period of massive industrialization. Unlike India. India will have great difficulty setting onto the path of rapid growth. Several years ago I had dinner with the former Singapore President Sellapan Rama Nathan. I learned a lot from him. He said that the difference between China and India is that China has had a revolution and India has not. I think what he said makes a lot of sense. It was Mao Zedong who laid the foundation for the capitalistic rise of China today. If it were not for Mao Zedong, China would not have had the rapid development of capitalism that we see today. India capitalist economy is only in the formal sector or about 30% of the economy. Sixty to seventy percent of the Indian economy remains traditional. Land in China belongs to the state. If the state wants to take it, it takes it not matter how much the Chinese people complain. This would be very hard to do in India. Therefore it is China and not India that is capitalism’s final frontier. It will be interesting to look back in ten years and see if I will have been right about this.

Today, many Westerners are asking whether a financial crisis like the one on Wall Street could have happened in China. I believe that would be impossible. Local governments have much property, so if there were not enough money, they could just sell some. Increasing privatization somewhat would solve the problem. Today, the problem of local government debt has been brought under control. The expansion of the state-owned enterprises has also been brought under control. Those are two positive trends.

China’s problem today is the unequal distribution of housing. There are many empty houses yet there are also many people who can’t afford to buy a house. This is abnormal. If the ruling class can solve the real estate problem, maintaining political stability over the next thirty years won’t be difficult. Solving the real estate problem will test the resolve of the ruling class. According to the decisions taken at the third session of the 18th Party Congress, about 300 new reforms will be put in place. I believe that pushing ahead will all 300 at once would be impossible. A breakthrough reform will need to be found among the 300 reforms planned. Real estate could can at least become the breakthrough point for social reform. Today, we will have to wait to see what methods that the fourth session will propose. This is the end of the talk, now we’ll open it up to discussion. Thank you!


China’s Three Step Procedure: First economic reform, then social reform, then political reform. During the time of Xi Jinping, China will accomplish its rejuvenation.

Xu Guanlin, honorary president of Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University: I personally strongly agree with Prof. Zheng Yongnian’s views. Xi Jinping is moving ahead very systematically. First he is consolidating power and fighting corruption, and then moving on to institution-building. From the perspective of Chinese history, the time of the third generation leader was a time of strong development and prosperity, for example the time of prosperity during the time of the Qianlong Emperor of the Qing Dynasty. I want to ask Professor Zheng if this is historical perspective is correct?

Zheng Yongnian: China previously was ruled by dynastic houses, today it is governed by the Communist Party. This is somewhat different. A dynasty is a family affair. A party is different. The Communist Party has over 80 million members – more than the population of many countries. A dynastic house by its very nature cannot democratize – that is to say the emperor decides whom his successor will be and that settles it. The Communist Party can be democratized. That will take opening up, competition and participation. The Communist Party needs to open up. If it doesn’t open up, it will the party of a small group of special interests.

The West often talks about multi-party systems, but I believe that the USA and Europe have have systems based on the power of families. The Communist Party stresses that interests within the Party must be harmonized. Democracy within the Party can accomplish that. I believe that Xi Jinping will be able to see the objective situation and apply his personal wisdom to it. I believe that China can be reborn. At the least, the Xi Jinping era will bring China from a middle-income society to a developed society.

A member of the audience told me that he had just purchased a copy of my book “China’s Three Steps Plan for Reforms”. In that book, I summarize China’s three-step plan for reform: first economic reform, then social reform, and finally political reform. First production, then redistribution and then democracy. That sequence works better.

Japan and the Four Dragons of East Asia developed that way. In their economic development, the “Four Dragons” of Asia did better than the Europeans. Why did socialist movements and working class movements appear in Europe about the time of the first and second world wars? Marx said that primitive capitalism would not protect society. Therefore workers movements appeared and then a social welfare system began in European societies. Reforms were made with each trying to outdo the other. Asia was different. Japan the Four Dragons of Asia (including Singapore) , the government took the initiative to protect society during economic development. Society construction also moved along and so there was very peaceful. One example, which I personally strongly approve, is the openness of Singapore politics today. Singapore’s people all have a middle class or better income and so everyone is peaceful and rational. The Communist Party does not need to be giving out directives, what it needs to do is get China to the level at which it is 70 – 80% middle class. Once China becomes a middle class country, adopting democracy or some other system becomes possible. If the middle class is not large, than you won’t be able to do anything well.

A question from the audience: The gap between the rich and the poor is large. Among ethnic Chinese people there have arise left-wing liberalism. They stress equality and oppose giving priority to market solutions. What do you think about this?

Zheng Yongnian: My own view is that the first contradiction between democracy and the economy is as I just said before the rise of the welfare society – a contradiction between the working class and capital. Now the contradiction is between the middle class and capital. Today when people protest, they want to protest against the government. But capital is not under the control of government. Once government could control capital but today if a government puts pressure on capital, then capital flees. Therefore today governance is getting more and more difficult. I very must sympathize with these political leaders. Actually this is a world-wide problem. When our think tanks have exchanges with European think tanks or political leaders, the know what the problem is and how to solve it. However, they are unable to form an effective government. So the problem of capital flight is a world-wide problem. This is nothing new. It is normal in any era to see some alternation between the left and the right.

(Phoenix web copyright manuscript, when reproducing please note the source: Phoenix Internet University, Editor-in-charge Wang Demin, Singapore correspondent Jin Luying)

Original Chinese text:


2014-10-16   144







郑永年: 我今天想先讲一个多小时,多留一些时间给大家提问,大家有问题可以提,什么问题都可以提。我讲还是聚焦中国的内政方面,因为中国的内政方面比较难了解。实际上香港问题、中日关系等,大家看看报纸也是知道得差不多了。内政方面我主要是围绕习近平来讲,刚才主持人说习近平上台以后一、两年的时间中国已经发生了很大的变化,海外会问习近平在做什么,他想做什么。其实中国很多人也在问:我们这个国家这个船往哪里开,习近平是船长,要回答这个船往哪里开的问题。




































当然,最重要的是怎么做制度建设?四中全会到底要怎么做?我觉得会有很多的改革方案。习近平现在做的很多人不理解。比如说车改,就是领导人用车制度的改革。以前朱镕基总理也想改,但改革计划一出台,大家反对他,就收回去了。但现在习近平要做就做了。我觉得他这个人是有领导魄力的。 习近平能超越他个人的利益,他是有大局观念的领导人。我想任何国家的领导人,任何党组织的领导人,如果没有大局观念,老是为了个人的利益,这个国家、这个党肯定治不好。这就是中国几千年说的“德”。你要有德,没有“德”的话,怎么能管理这样一个国家。


现在中国人均收入7000美元左右。中国大规模的基础设施、大规模的工业化早就已经建起来了。不像印度。印度要高增长还是很困难的。几年前,我们和前总统(纳丹)餐会,他说了一个观点,对我很有启发。他说中国和印度不同,主要是印度没有革命,中国有革命。我觉得蛮有道理的。毛泽东奠定了当代中国资本主义崛起的基础。中国如果没有毛泽东就不会有资本主义那么快的发展。印度的资本主义经济,也就是正式部门,仅占整体经济的30%,其他60%-70%是传统的。中国土地的国有制的,征收也就征收了,不管老百姓怎么叫都能搞定,这在印度很难。所以,中国才是资本主义最后的边疆, 印度不是。十年以后,我想我的看法是正确的。












(凤凰网版权稿件,转载请注明来源:凤凰网大学问 责任编辑王德民 驻新加坡通讯员金璐颖) 

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A German View on Censorship and the Internet in China

Google translation of a South Germany Times Suddeutsche Zeitung commentary on Chinese censorship. A fine article, just be tolerant of a little computer awkwardness.

The Internet could overcome dictatorships, it is always. But that’s true? Let’s see to Hong Kong. There currently running an endurance test for the largest censorship and propaganda apparatus in the world. So far, it is working well.
By Kai Strittmatter
The empowerment of the powerless, that’s a promise, wearing all new media in themselves. You are always a threat to the status quo. Also the internet was from the beginning a dream. China’s attempt to censor the power exulted, Bill Clinton, was as promising as the, “to nail a jelly to the wall”. . In 2000, the Chinese people listened to the prophecy, hastily built a new Great Wall, the Great Firewall, hit a few nails in the cracks, and lo and behold: He was hanging well, the pudding.
The prophets of freedom can not be discouraged. Undaunted glad the message comes from the race between the hare censor and hedgehog netizens with Eric Schmidt thus: “First they try to block you, to infiltrate a Second – and thirdly, you win.” The Google CEO said that in November 2013 he prophesied the defeat of the network monitor world within a decade.
Can relining the network optimists their confidence with the stories from Twitter uprising in Tunisia, of the Facebook revolution in Egypt, from the Youtube-Maidan agitation of activists in Kiev. And now Hong Kong: Fire Chat, Telegram, WeChat, the app arsenal of cleverly organizing students taught the European newspaper readers once again a whole new vocabulary of rebellion. The struggle for freedom and its technological base, which is part of the media now together often.

That the gentlemen in Beijing seem amazing just the power not to fear. 632 million Chinese use the Internet, half of them in social networks. And the government is building the infrastructure with a vengeance. Because they benefit the economy and make the country strong. The online retailer Hangzhou Alibaba makes more sales together as Amazon and Ebay. In April, the network celebrated its 20th anniversary in the country, party chief Xi Jinping celebrates China as coming “Cyber Power”, the news agency Xinhua raved about the “innovation” of China, we owe a “unique Internet Management”: commercialism and control unites again fertile. China loves the power. The party loves it even more so.
the blink
Not long ago, it looked as if a window had opened. Four amazing years from 2009 to 2013 were China’s netizens believe freedom of speech is they like in the womb. Guilt had the social media, especially the micro-blogging service Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter. Twitter itself had the Communist Party (CP) as well as banned Facebook immediately; Weibo, the Chinese copy, it allowed of 2009.
Of course, they asserted the company with censors, but what the party initially did not understand, was the fundamental novelty of the social network: All of a sudden a message or a photo from your mobile phone could hundred thousand touch of a button in seconds, spread millionfold. A censor who took only twenty minutes was twenty minutes late. Amazing happened. There were not only previously suppressed news – about smog, over food scandals about police violence – their way to millions of readers, it also found people to each other with their ideas, thoughts and concerns that had previously thought alone.
The isolation of the individuals is a central means of domination of all authoritarian systems, in China they broke all of a sudden on.

The liberal social critic and essayist Murong Xuecun about the beginning of 2013 had six million followers. The company discovered himself, reflected about themselves. For the first time in the history of the People’s Republic of sprouted something like a bourgeois public sphere. The people fought, debated, mocked. Eventually they started in groups of hundreds, thousands to go to cyber hunt to kill corrupt cadres. Managed dozens of times them, for example, when “Uncle watches”, the more expensive they who demonstrated on the photos owned Swiss luxury watches. The citizens had discovered their power. And then everything happened very quickly. End of 2012, Xi Jinping was party leader. In August 2013 he gave the order to “recapture the commanding heights in the Internet”. And in November announced a Vice Minister of Propaganda enforcement: “Our Internet has made clean.” The nightmare was over.

The fist
Censorship works. The party took out the old weapons: intimidation, censorship, propaganda. Freshly polished and skillfully adapted to the times. Intimidation made the beginning: First, the party put out the unpleasant Blogger accounts, Murong Xuecun was the first. Then she grabbed renowned liberal opinion leaders out, arrested her, put it simply (because of “prostitution” or “economic crimes”), she broke into the prison and then put them in the pillory: The state television they were presented as a repentant sinner, the audience to deter and instruction. In September 2013, the Supreme Court adopted new rules: Who spread a “rumor”, passed more than 500 times or more than 5000 times read, risks up to three years in prison. As a politically and socially relevant medium Weibo has since been dead. Where just been a raging wild sometimes, often polemical, wise in luck, but always lively debate, there is now deathly quiet.
Censorship works, showing the case of Hong Kong. Right at the beginning of the protests blocked the censorship photo site Instagram. Hong Kong users of the popular messaging service WeChat (Chinese: Weixin) realized at some point that their messages the receiver never reached in China. The Hong Kong Anti-Censorship website “Weiboscope” reported that after tear gas attack the police a record number of messages on Weibo was deleted and blocked on the day, more than any other day this year. The news blackout is effective today. Hardly a Chinese knows what goes on in Hong Kong before him.
The Beijing Bao Pu is now publisher in Hong Kong, he once grew up in the heart of the power as a child of a high Party functionary. He knows the KP, he is familiar with the new technologies. That’s why, he says, he pessimist. Technologies believes Bao Pu, always served the camp with the larger resources. “The Internet is therefore probably the KP more than their opponents,” he says. China’s government has been around a few years from more for internal security than for the national defense. The Almighty says Stasi, Bao Pu, had only Weibo and Weixin read along: “Then they know who to arrest next.”
Weixin Weibo has now overtaken in popularity. But Weixin is essentially something else: It is a messaging service where people come together to form small groups to discuss. The move away from Weibo to Weixin is also a retreat into the private half. But the feeling of relative security that many have there, are deceiving: The Beijing who were arrested in the artists’ quarter Songzhuang three weeks ago because they had at a poetry reading in support of Hong Kong would like to participate, had previously agreed on Weixin. The Stasi read with.

The Word
The power of the Communist Party, so saw the Mao Zedong, was based from the start on two things: “the barrel of guns and the pins of the writer”. The lockout of information is not enough, you have to mind putting his own narrative. The propaganda has become more intelligent and sophisticated. Yes, now as then, there are the Hetzer with the foaming at the mouth, as when the Global Times nachruft the protesters, they left behind “a stink for ten thousand years”. But are much more effective the other pieces, the infographics professionally made, which therefore come as clever PR, the anonymous blogs masquerading as discussion from the anxious people, and declare the country people the situation this way: Hong Kong is in chaos. The protesters want to secede from China Hong Kong. There are spoiled children, which is all about economic advantage. Behind them are dark foreign powers that do not want that China is strong.
The Beijing Sina web portal managed two hours to report on Tuesday about the talks between government and students in a “live blog”, without quoting it once the students. In China news and web clips can be seen crying women, lamenting the decline of their city, and reveal that the protesters are all bought. Random mostly do not speak the interviewees in the usual Hong Kong Cantonese, but Mandarin with mainland accent.
The remarkable: for years has hijacked the terms of the West China’s propaganda. The People’s Daily writes about actually, the problem with the protesters in Hong Kong was their “anti-democratic” attitude. This “enmity against democracy” have them namely the colonial rule of the British planted. Now there is an urgent need to restore the “rule of law” in the city, say, to make the demonstrations put an end. At the same time blocked in the network all the words, which the opponents serve: About “Umbrellas” you can not talk on Weibo today. Yes, the users are creative, and they are looking forward thieving, if they can get away with “Pearl of the Orient”, where “Hong Kong” is blocked – but such small triumphs can Beijing be matter: They took them central to their discourse language, and hence any prospect of significant effect. In this race the hare wins, not the hedgehog.
The Subject
The opponent to steal the key terms and fill them with the opposite meaning is a brilliant move. It represents the compass needle simply want to south. The result is total confusion. “But if all are confused, then degenerate values to empty shells,” says Yang Lian, a poet living in London and Beijing. “And what remains are cynicism and selfishness.”
The amazing thing is so not the production of propaganda, but how good the people play along. If the Hong Kong be criticized as unpatriotic in the comments on the net, then that is not only the huge army of “Wumao”, the “50 cents” -Trolle that settle nationalist tirades on behalf of the Communist Party. You can hear the echo of the propaganda in everyday conversation in Beijing’s streets. “Almost none of my friends know what is really going on in Hong Kong,” says the essayist Murong Xuecun. “And of those who do know, 70 percent complain about Hong Kong. You can not imagine anyone advocating ideals themselves. Because in China even all idealism, all principles, all morality were wiped out because everyone is working only for their own interests and for their own profit, so he assumed all other only lower motives “There for in China a saying. With the eyes of a pig looking at people.
The nationalist-militarist education system, with which the party has covered the country in the wake of the massacre of Tiananmen Square, an impact. “The in the eighties and then infants are hopelessly lost. The brainwashing begins in kindergarten, “says a 50-year-old painter from Songzhuang, whose friends include the Hong Kong due arrested. David, a 28-year-old teacher at an elite school in Beijing, tells of his 17- and 18-year-olds: “Technically, they are super savvy. They also use a lot more than we VPN and other technologies that allow them to overcome the censorship. They use Facebook and Youtube – but only to follow for entertainment and to their stars. I give them sometimes to read books, good article from the New York Times. . But even though I’m only ten years older, they do not even understand myself, “The context in which they live is an entirely different:” The manipulation through education and propaganda of the party is perfect: you simply consume and ignore everything else , They also ignore the reality that it is made easy for them. ”
The Chinese model, the neoautoritäre seizure of the network – at the moment it works fine. And it radiates from: Other take an example of Beijing, the pioneer in sophisticated network manipulation. Vietnam, Russia, Saudi Arabia. Once it was said that capitalism would bring freedom to China. He has not done it. Then it was that the Internet will undermine China’s party rule. At the moment it looks more like wandering China under capitalism and the power to do so.
Sueddeutsche Zeitung, 25. / 10.26.2014

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Translation of First 34 Pages of Kong Lingping’s Rightist Memoir “Blood Chronicle” By One of the Long-time Prisoners of Mao Zedong

[Just added another twelve pages.]

The selection translated describes Chongqing University at the outset of Mao’s Hundred Flowers campaign that aimed to persuade people to speak out freely. Kong Lingping’s 孔令平memoir was published in CD in Hong Kong and as a book in Taiwan.

Below is an English translation of the first 34 pages of “Blood Chronicle” 血纪 You can find the Chinese text at

上 集血纪


Blood Chronicle Book One

Chapter One The Newborn Calf Falls into the Trap of Openness

In early April 1957, it already felt like Spring on the Chongqing University campus. At noon one day, the student restaurant loudspeakers blared an announcement from the university party committee — This afternoon at two o’clock, all university students, teachers and staff will hear the chairman of the university party committee pass along an important document from the Central Committee. Bring your own stool. Don’t be absent.

Then a song about the beauty of the four season by Zhou Xuan was played. I took my lunch and walked out the west side of the restaurant. On the steps, my classmate Ma Kaixian was eating her lunch and sunning herself.

This afternoon we will have to listen to another report. Which one of us is bringing the stools? I asked.

She turned towards her face, slightly reddened already by the Spring sunlight answering, Of course, that’s your job. I’ll wait for you here. Then she flicked her pigtail towards me mischievously and made a face.

I passed the Chongqing University Mechanical Engineering Department entrance examination in 1955. Life in college was much different from high school. We didn’t have any one classroom but followed a schedule moving from classroom to classroom. We chose out seat when we arrived and then left as the end of that class. There was no set place for self-study and review work. Apart from going to classes and studying late in the dormitory, students took their book bags and their things to study in the library or in classrooms. Life was much freer than in high school. Having been in the school for two years, I knew all the good places to study and every corner of the campus.

Ma Xiankai and I chose an old building near the pine forest back gate to the school. Most of the chairs and desks were missing; most people didn’t go there. It was quiet, pine trees were all about and the air was especially fresh. In those days, we had just fallen in love and enjoyed having a quiet place to study together and discuss things where we would not be disturbed. We repaired two desks and chairs ourselves and nailed together two stools that we could take wherever we liked whenever we attended a meeting or an outdoor film.

That afternoon, we heard a recording of Mao Zedong speaking at the Eleventh State Council meeting on The Correct Handing of Contradictions Among the People. When the meeting started, the university party committee secretary Zheng Siqun at the microphone announced that we would not be allowed to take notes. He enunciated the instruction very clearly, stressing each word, so that we knew that this was a rule that must be obeyed. Mao Zedong’s difficult Hunan accent added to the noise on the recording made listening difficult. However that were many things on the recording that we had never heard in our political studies that made this special. This freshness added to university president Zheng’s stern instruction, made for a much different atmosphere than before.

In those days, everyone was respectful of this top leader of the party and state. Although the recording was long, repetitious and disjointed yet order remained good and everyone on this ten thousand square meter meeting place listened from two o’clock in the afternoon until 6:30. There was very little talking back and forth and nobody snuck away. I remember to this day listening to that leisurely Hunan drawl as he talked about Khrushchev and the 17th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party, about the events in Hungary and Poland, and about the situation in Eastern Europe. During those days, the History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was a required course as part of our political training. Students of engineering and science, and in particular those of us who were the children of counter-revolutionary households were not interested in delving deeply into that curriculum. This even though the secret report to the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the USSR, after it was revealed to the world by the CIA and had created a series of earthquakes and divisions in the communist camp, had not made an impression on us.

Ever since my early youth I had been cursed by the tag of being from a counter-revolutionary household. Just hearing about counterrevolutionary riots and their suppression made me feel worry that I was going to be put into a difficult position and suffer for it. In my freshman year, I had run into the movement to fight the Hu Feng Counter-revolutionary group. Every time I heard that fearful label in my ears, I didn’t dare ask Why did Hu Feng want to oppose the revolution? I would simply repeat the dry statement that the Communist Youth League person had given us and never went any further. When I started Middle School, my father was arrested. Caught up in a long series of red terror movements, I always remembered my mother’s injunction Don’t be like your father, don’t ask about politics, just be a good student and discover your talents. That is the only thing. Don’t say anything about anything else, child. Remember the example of your father.

As for the Soviet Union, all I knew was that the socialist camp is impregnable. Nothing is stronger. Communism cannot be defeated. The Communist Party will destroy all the plots of the imperialists.

That day however, we heard from the very lips of Mao Zedong himself that we must opposed personality cults and the hero-worshiping of individuals. We heard that person from Hun an say that the the good deeds and errors of that deified figure Stalin himself were in the ratio of three to seven. That very head of the Soviet Communist Party who had been praised as the leader and father had become an ordinary man who made mistakes! We for the first time heard a new theory, to wit: Serious errors of subjectivism, bureaucratism, and factionalism exist even within that sacred and paramount institution — the Communist Party. There had been strikes and demonstrations in the socialist countries of Eastern Europe because their communist parties had been unable to resolve contradictions among the people. That There are many contradictions among the people, some of them quite serious at times We need to use the methods of criticism and self-criticism, democracy and persuasion to resolve contradictions among the people. The academic world should rely on as its guiding principle the method of Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom, Let a Hundred Schools of Thought Compete. Speak out freely and fully and write big character posters.

These principles, like a fresh rain, encouraged all the students since they had been chilled by a steady succession of political campaigns. I noticed the teachers in the front row straightening up and concentrating.

After the meeting was over, the students started vigorous discussions. Some of the students at the student restaurant even launched into a vivid description of Khrushchev secret report to the Twentieth Congress of the Soviet Communist Party that had been stolen by the CIA.

The library’s copy of Reference News and other publications that had published this report were all taken as everyone fought to read these materials and from them ponder just what was going on in China.

My lover and I were no exception. In the little study room we had made for ourselves we discussed it. An intellectually stimulating Spring had come upon us!

第一節:“大鳴大放” Section One “Speak Out Boldly, Holding Nothing Back”

Two days later, a banner Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom, Let a Hundred Schools of Thought Contend in big red letters hung from the education building.

Then all the Communist Party, Youth League, Teachers and employees of the university participated in a meeting held at the auditorium on Pine Hill called Help the Communist Party Correct its Working Style speak out boldly meeting led by the Chongqing University Communist Party Deputy Secretary Song Dianne. On the buildings around the meeting place there were already hung all kinds of colorful slogans such as Correctly distinguish between the two kinds of contradictions and handle correctly contradictions among the people; mobilize the masses in a mild and caring way to help the Party conscientiously correct problems in its working style; oppose subjectivism, bureaucratism and factionalism; Speaking out is not wrong, listeners should heed the warning, talk about anything you know about and don’t hold anything back.

At that mobilization meeting, Song Dianbin spoke in an unusually mild and sincere way. To express the attitude of the school party committee, he pounded on his chest to pledge that as he led this meeting, he would be open-minded as he listened to everyone’s opinions. He said he would accept any criticism, no matter how pointed.

The day after the mobilization meeting led by Song Dianbin, another big speak out boldly assembly of the entire university was held on the Unity Arena. All the top university leaders spoke out, welcoming everyone and asking everyone to share their views and to hold nothing back. Following them spoke the members of the mobilization committees of the various university departments, years and sections. They got into some detail and urged the entire university teachers, staff and students not to avoid any topic.

At the same time, the national media was getting into high gear, repeating constantly The entire party and the entire people are taking active part in a big speak out boldly debate. The movement to correct the working style of the Communist Party is the the most urgent current task facing us all and that it was particularly important that democratic elements outside the Communist Party participate more actively in helping the Communist Party correct its working style. The authorities employed slogans like a Chinese Communist must be determined to make themselves of one heart and one mind with the people, and work together with the people to build a prosperous New China and to be honest in working together with the people of the democratic parties build prosperous coexistence, to supervise one another, and to cooperate with them as one.

After reading some representative statements from the discussions at the meeting of all the democratic parties and democratic elements of the country convened by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, such as Chen Mingshu’s Seeking Teachers and Friends Outside the Party. I thought that Chen Mingshu’s talks was just flattery of the Communist Party. In particular, the part where inspired by the old saying Among any three people, at least one must be my teacher, he suggests that the Communist Party itself should also seek advice from people who are not party members, which is nothing more than what Mao Zedong himself said. Huang Shaohong’s talk The Party Replacing the Government touched on an extremely sensitive issue of the leadership of the Communist Party. He said while the Party is certain to be concerned about the methods of governance, actually doing everything itself is not a good working style or a good method. It would be strange indeed if the Party trying to do everything did not lead to the ills of subjectivism, bureaucratism and factionalism.

Moreover, Zhang Xiruo discussed the problem of the Communist Party’s four major deviations — being overly ambitious for great achievements, being too eager for quick successes and accomplishments, despising the past, and having a superstitious anticipation of a great future These opinions were offered to Mao Zedong as part of taking the pulse. Didn’t Mao Zedong earnestly call for everyone to present their opinions without reserve? Who could have predicted that Mr. Zhang’s words diagnose Mao Zedong’s mental illness and sensitive taboo?

Zhang Bojun in his talk on A Political Planning Institute suggest that many people should work together on political planning. That four humble workmen putting their heads together can plot a great strategy — is that what Mao Zedong had told us many times in his talks? Didn’t he call for a hundred flowers to bloom? Isn’t calling for a Political Planning Institute just an enthusiastic response to his call?

As for Chu Anping’s The Party Controls Everything made a sensation. The idea grew out of the old joke about the young monk who was always praising the old monk. The Party Controls Everything is just calling a spade a spade, not the servility of Chen Mingshu and speaking more directly than Huang Shaohong about the tyranny of the Communist Party, something that had the Chinese Communist Party’s allies had expresses dissatisfaction with that year.

How could university students under the control of red terrorism understand the world struggle between autocracy and democracy that was underway? Isn’t it a fact that the Communist Party was always deceiving people in matters both large and small? Wasn’t it true that those weak voices against one party rule were saying the same views that the Communist Party had strongly held back when it was fighting the rule of the Nationalist Party?

Luo Longji is his Rehabilitation Committee proposal showed how under the rule of the Communist Party there were a great many injustices. Who was not aware of that, especially people who had been attacked on account of their families? From the perspective of the ruling party, correcting mistaken and unjust cases should be a right and proper correction to make and a forthright opinion to offer.

Now these people who brought up these views and human rights were the old friends who had supported and helped the Communist Party. Mao Zedong himself had acknowledged that without their support, the Communists could not have won. Most of what they said were views that the Communist Party itself used to propose and hold. Now these views, from the perspective of a governing party, were hindrances.

Now the strong anesthetic injection that The nationwide large scale class struggle storm had passed and the new period of peaceful construction has arrived and so the atmosphere of fear generated during the campaigns of the Three Oppositions (oppose corruption, waste and bureaucracy) and Five Oppositions (oppose bribery, tax evasion, theft of state property, cheating on government contracts and stealing) and the campaign against the Hu Feng counter-revolutionary clique had dissipated. Now it seemed that the big democracy of Europe can be used and the mild methods of little democracy can be applied to solve problems.

This is how as the spring flower blossoms opened during the third lunar month of 1957, Mao Zedong spread a deceptive fragrance throughout the country. In the lines of the relaxing tune Correctly Handle Contradictions Among the People describes how under the leadership of the Communist Party the masses made trouble for which the magnanimous Communist Party blamed itself, humbling bowing low as it accepted the criticisms and suggestions of the masses. The Party is like a glorious democratic spirit which for the sake of the state and the people came to the campus to plant a cultivate the beautiful scene of the hundred flowers blooming. The spring is the season for planting. The spring is just the season for showing the wonderful image of the Creator.

We who had already lived for seven years under the red terror of the Chinese Communist Party breathed sighs of relief and felt that in the midst of our fear we have been given an unexpected favor. We had become accustomed to the loss of democratic rights and always felt very cautious about freedom of speech, for hadn’t the Hu Feng counterrevolutionary clique made that error only a few months earlier?

They were used to have the great matters of state being taken charge of by the party’s policy and the governance of the school to be handled by the school’s party committee. So they never thought about those things. Moreover they were afraid of being tagged as someone who came from a counter-revolutionary household or as someone who had counter-revolutionary thoughts, of being investigated, and so kept their distance from these things.

Everyone knew from the Hu Feng case that anyone who listened to foreign broadcasts could be convicted of treason and jailed so nobody dared to listen to them. Conversely, they thought that this dictatorial measure of the Chinese communists was right and proper and that democratic views were dangerous. They became so cowardly that even when their own relatives were condemned unjustly in some campaign that they didn’t dare to speak up for them, thinking that making use of their right to appeal would get them into dangerous territory and so simply gave up. They didn’t dare oppose the arrogant attitude of the Communist Party organization.

Therefore when the party branch organization urged them on, they will unwilling to say anything at the speak out meetings. What did they expect these students of science and engineering to say? They could perfectly well have a passionate debate about some technical issue. They never expected and never imagined that they would be expected to offer advice to the party

In order to find out how the various speak out meetings were going, the branch party secretary called a meeting of the branch youth league secretaries for each year and each class and gave out a notebook to each one of them. He admonished them to be ready to make notes on the meeting of the next day, including the names of all the speakers. They were told that they must turn in the notebooks to his office every evening before lights out.

Not only did the youth league branch secretaries for each class not understand the intention behind all this, their liaison branch party secretary did not know and was just following the directions of the school party committee. The secrecy of the Communist Party was strict and so when the Party center decided on a policy, it required organizations at every level to carry out the policy as stated. They weren’t allowed to ask why!

The speak out meeting of our class was held by the branch youth league secretary Chen Si, in his room, No. 204. In those days there were very few student members of the Communist Party. Among the 1300 students in our department, there were only a dozen or so party members. This meeting in principle should have been chaired by a party member, but on the class level was convened instead by the youth league secretary.

Chen Si didn’t known how to conduct this kind of meeting which was strictly required by party policy. He didn’t know what to do and was afraid of making a mistake if he didn’t do it right, but he didn’t have any idea of what was correct and incorrect. The sophomore political guidance instructor, a Mr. Deng had previously in that same room had called a series of meetings with several people who didn’t know about other meetings on the same topic so as to root out and criticize the Hu Feng counter-revolutionary clique. Then, a teaching assistant said that Study is a matter of fighting alone with all one’s might and so was marked as a Hu Feng element. Later that teaching assistant was sent to away for re-education through labor.

Chen Si had no idea of why it was wrong to say that study is a matter of fighting alone with all one’s might. Where is the mistake in saying that? He himself had seen that teaching assistant being taken away in the prison van. From then on, he was especially on his guard whenever he met party members.
Normally when he conducted political study sessions for his class, he first made close notes of the talk the branch party secretary for their year Cao Ying gave them and reproduced them exactly, never daring to stray from them in any way.

That was not even a year ago. The brutality in political instructor Deng’s voice still rang in his ears. Suddenly everyone is asked to think broadly and told that it is allowed to say anything. People don’t understand that at all.

Chen Si made his opening remarks according to the notes that he had made at the department meeting. Class leader Guo Yinghu opened the meeting record book. The first day’s discussion was cautious, not at all like the vigorous discussions the students had had in the library and restaurant.
This worried Chen Si. How could he present a record of this meeting of the dumb to the school’s party secretary. There was no alternative but to use the old method of political meetings and call on people one by one.

Everyone simply gave a response in line with Chen Si’s opening remarks. Although Deng Yinghua made some revisions for the sake of the record, they were not significant, mere changes in phrasing. If he were to present this record to the school party secretary, he would certainly be criticized. The meetings of all the classes in the department went just the same way. The school party secretary then demanded that the youth league secretaries for each branch think of ways to get people to speak from the heart.

Chen Si returned and called a meeting of the branch committee of the youth league branch. The Propaganda and Education Committee member made a suggestion, volunteering to ask the ordinarily outspoken Lin Juan and Liu Tang speak first. Let them present suggestions on the work of their youth league branch. Organization Committee member Liu Kuize suggested that the person that Lin Juan most despises, Lei Tianpei speak first, then have Lin Juan make a response. This would enliven the whole atmosphere.

This plan was carried out at the next day’s speak out rally. Lei Tianpei spoke first and stopped after saying just ten sentences. Naturally this led to a sarcastic remark from Lin Juan, saying he was just like a poor quality tape recorder and not at a like a real man should be like. Surprisingly, she moved right on to attack class leader Guo Yinghua felt compelled to say that she was really too simple minded and harsh in her attitude. Moreover she was too subjective in the way she organized class activities, just doing things the way she pleases. For example, she said she was going to organize trips but we are already two months into the semester and we haven’t been on a trip. Another class, number five, had already gone on a trip to Longevity Lake and to Dazu — they went on a trip every week. She said she hoped that Deng Yinghua would change this incorrect work style.

Guo Yinghua face flushed red and then went pale for a moment. She put down her notebook, and didn’t know quite what to write in her notebook. She wrote this Lin Juan statement: Criticizes Deng Guohua class leader for inflexible thinking, she has the flaws of subjectivism and dogmatism, she is inflexible in her organization work and must improve.

After Lin Juan dropped her bomb, Liu Tangjin followed up but citing an example to criticize Guo Yinghua’s bureaucratic working style. He said, Last year, in the principles of mechanics class when we discussed gears and we still were not clear about the way a gear transmission shifts upwards and downwards and though that Teacher Lin was moving a little too fast, and asked the teacher to add some additional material to work on in the self-study class, only Guo Yinghua opposed, The self-study class is for self study, digestion of the material on one’s own, and there is no need for the entire class to meet and have a supplementary class on a small matter. This individual subjective view blithely contradicted everyone else’s views. Isn’t is clear that this is subjectivism, that this is dogmatism.

For the sake of being in line with the speak out boldly theme, Liu Tang put two hats on that class leader who was not even twenty years old. Deng Guohua was not a party member and seemingly had nothing to do with helping the Party correct its working style. Although it was off topic, still it made for an argument and everybody brought up a wide range of opinions and so became a genuine meeting for reviewing how democratic their community life had been.

The speaking out boldly of the science and engineering students was confined to those class leaders who they were in direct contact in their daily lives and studies. Chen Si and Deng Yinghua who were not even twenty, not to mention the beloved and well respected school party secretary Zheng Siqun, had no idea what the Party Center’s intention behind all this really was.

Big character posters pasted on campus wall stirred up the quiet campus. I remember the first big character poster put up in the mechanical engineering department. That poster, in polite language, aimed to give a word of advice to Cao Ying. Cao Ying was the class party group leader and a member of the organization committee of the party branch of the department. He was a cadre transfer who had been sent to the department by a certain organization. Although he was ten years old that us naive students but she had no better than an elementary school education and was already the father of two children. He had been sent to the university from the bureaucracy to brush up his resume.

There were many cadre transfer students in the department, much older than the other students who wore the hats of both party members and officials. In the early period after liberation, in order to change the composition of the intellectuals by placing among those students who had been born into the oppressor class some students of peasant and worker backgrounds. That is how the cadre transfer students came to the university campus. It didn’t matter whether they could keep up with the classwork, what mattered was that they spoke up for the interests of the Party and criticize people who had poor class consciousness. Everyone was a little afraid of them.

The person who posted the big character poster, blended sarcasm and irony with humble words that he hoped he that this campaign would wash him thoroughly. However he also hoped that the pretentious people who were criticizing him would study more mathematics and mechanics so they wouldn’t get a zero on their graduation examination and in the future work disappoint the Party’s hopes in them, and so make it hard to achieve the goal of serving the people.

Some with the poor educational background of Cao Ying might not necessarily catch the meaning.
Then came a second poster, a third and then many more. Cao Ying already had a bad reputation among the students. He was thought to take advantage of political examination and a private conversation to often take liberties with beautiful young women who had just entered the university.

During the speak out boldly period, the most controversy surrounded the poster about the head of the university food service. It was said that this 40 some son of north China peasants left the village to fight with the revolutionary forces for several years reaching the rank of company commander. After his return to civilian life, he was assigned as head of the food service at the university. There is no need to get into all the details of what was said during the speak boldly sessions. What got the whole school set aflame was the story of the diseased pork.

Nobody knows where section head Zhang bought several hundred fat pigs, but the next day a big epidemic started on the Chongqing University food service pig pens. After pigs died, they were sent to the student restaurants. The students ate diseased pork without knowing it.

The big character poster about section head Zhang that went up during the speak boldly period made him very ashamed of the diseased pork incident. He couldn’t explain from just which illegal merchant he bought so many diseased pigs. Nor could he explain why he used what he knew where diseased pigs to poison three thousand university students.

Section head Zhang was an old party member and had served in the Eighth Route Army. After he did this evil deed, he became a target of criticism as corrupt official and a murderer. The guilt made him sleepless for many days and nights. He always walked around with his head down.

It seemed as if students’ force of public opinion and ability to criticize people orally and in writing was sufficient to keep a watch over bad working styles within the Communist Party. This student movement resembled the student protests many years later in Indonesia and South Korea. Chinese students had an honorable tradition of protest going back to the May Fourth Movement. However, the tyranny of the Communist Party fostered ignorance and blind hero worship among the students so that they were unable to make reasonable objective judgments.

Section chief Zhang had a backer in Song Dianbin, who was concurrently the university deputy party secretary and university personnel department chief. Song for years had been fighting counter-revolution; fighting in the campaign against corruption, waste and bureaucracy; fighting in the campaign against bribery, tax evasion, theft of state property, cheating on government contracts and stealing; and fighting the Hu Feng counter-revolutionary clique. He always played the role of backstage director in these campaigns. If one were to search for someone who had committed the errors of bureaucratism and subjectivism, not to mention making up charges of murdering someone, he would be the one to choose. The section chief Zhang case came to roots on the head of this man who was used to being the stage director for accusations against others.

However, all the big character posters that went up were in line with policy and did not go outside the box of criticism. The meaning and usage was clearly aimed at seeing people as good and needing improvement. However in the cartoon drawn by the great cartoonist Lin Yusen, director Song became a short and fat fellow with his ears pointing backwards. The cartoon portrayed him going to work everyday, putting his bare feet up on the desk, drinking tea and smoking with a bunch of scattered documents that he had just approved. Some doggerel accompanied the cartoon that said that Secretary Song drinks tea and smokes in the office every day, approves documents hastily, and his not concerned abut the health of the faculty and students. We hope that he will conscientiously change this during this campaign.

Another kind of big character poster criticizing the Party and the Communist Youth League was concerned only their lifestyles and working styles. Sometimes a big character poster would say that professors should govern the school or criticizing the arrogance of the Party committee would appear. Some would criticize the way that elections to the People’s Congress were handled entirely by the party committee or the sufferings of innocent people in previous political campaigns. These posters were cautiously worded, were few in number and lost amongst the sea of posters that confined themselves to criticizing lifestyles and work styles. Later some posters appeared criticizing the behavior of some personnel at the USSR Embassy, Soviet military advisers and consulate personnel who harassed and acted aggressively towards Chinese female hosts at Chinese sponsored dance parties including forcibly kissing them.

Most of the students at Chongqing University were studying science, engineering and technology. At that time, about 80 percent of the students came from families of the oppressor class. Ever since liberation through the anti-landlord movement, the killing of local despots, the three opposes and the five opposes movements, and other movements against counter-revolutionaries, and atmosphere of fear had spread across the entire country. These people stained with an oppressor class background were the targets of these movements. Although they were temporarily in the majority of students at the university, the weight of public opinion against them they already felt as considerable moral pressure.

As someone from a counter-revolutionary household whose father was still in jail, I already felt more pressure than I could ever express. Therefore, I respected and feared politics like it was some powerful spirit and saw myself as a first class dwarf. That feeling of being deeply branded with my class filled me with a purposely created dread. I often thought of my mother’s warning Above all, don’t get involved in politics, you should generally avoid discussing national affairs. Therefore I decided to be a student of science and engineering. I thought if I could grow up to become an ordinary citizen, I would be doing well.

Our caution about politics made many of us children blind and cowardly about politics.
Mr. Dong Shiguang came back from the USA to teach at Western China Normal University. He spoke during a speak boldly meeting. Dong compared China and America including the systems and living standards of the peoples to explain his central point that the Communist Party was acting arbitrarily and dictatorially in its governance of China. Chongqing University invited him to come and talk to the entire school in a kind of democracy salon speech. His speech opened up the world and critical thought to those of us who had grown up amidst the traditional education of the Chinese communists and in the closed world of the university. But I didn’t attend.

Ma Kaixian went. When she got back she told me about it, clearly moved by what she had heard. She said: Mr. Dong compared the two systems using concrete examples. For example, he said that in the USA the students and faculty can bring questions about school facilities, the curriculum, and even the salary of teachers to the school’s board of directors. The board must respond to them. Reasonable suggestions are accepted and carried out with a certain period of time. Moreover, the U.S. government must abide by the U.S. Constitution and respect everyone’s opinion. Everyone has the right to criticize the government and can through their elected representatives impeach government officials etc.

In fact, I had already read of such things in publications and digests. However, I had been taught by the Chinese Communists the distortion of the truth that In capitalist society, democracy and freedom is the democracy of people with money. The oppressed classes live in slavery even worse than the treatment of cows and horses. This, combined with incessant political campaigns, had associated in my mind that worshiping America and fear of America are great counter-revolutionary crimes.

Throughout the period of speaking out boldly I was still caught up in my own foolishness and ignorance. I brought from my class background congenital inhibitions and cowardice that closed me up. I didn’t dare think for myself. Ignorance divorced us from the course of world events and the progress of civilizations, it made us lose our understanding of what a democratic society was, and we lost the motivation to live an authentic life.

Inhibitions re-enforce ignorance and ignorance re-enforces constraints.
The speak out boldly movement made us aware of our long held inhibitions and ignorance. We began to feel that we are pitiful people who have been kept in our ignorance and inhibitions for a long time. Keeping us there was the basic ideological guarantee of Mao Zedong’s dictatorship. Otherwise, Mao Zedong saw democracy as a great scourge that must be wiped out wherever it rears its head. If not, then how, during his lifetime could it have given birth to one political movement after another? Mao’s totalitarianism did not realize that once Chinese people understand their pitiful state of inhibition and ignorance, then dictatorship will be hard to maintain.

We young and isolated students didn’t realize the speak out boldly was just the opening of an ideological campaign that would be storm much larger and broader than the Oppose Hu Feng campaign. Hearing the solemn promises of every level of Party organization that the Let a hundred flowers bloom policy meant that people may speak out freely without fear of retaliation would in the end put those who spoke out into handcuffs and into prison!

It wasn’t until after Tian Tianrong at Beijing University painted a big character poster calling for democracy and freedom, Lin Xiling spoke out at Beijing University about the grievances of Hu Feng, and Feng Zhujun at Sichuan University called for democracy and freedom that finally at Chonging University a metallurgy department student youth league secretary Pu Shiguang put up a big character poster signed editorial board of an appeal on behalf of non-youth league members on behalf of students who were not youth league members and came from a household with a bad class background opposing the theory of the unique importance of class origin.

Even so, university students throughout China still hadn’t managed to escape from the box of ignorance and inhibitions and so didn’t overstep the ideological bounds set by the Chinese Communist Party. Tan Tianrong’s poster ended with the words Long live the Chinese Communist Party and Long live freedom, democracy and reasonable human rights and Lin Xiling’s call for democracy was still for socialist democracy. These kinds of calls made under constraint, this making peace with the cage communist theory did not move Mao Zedong one bit.

Mao Zedong, already swept up in the superstition of his own dictatorship, was just carrying out a big plot in plain sight — an open plot to wildly brandish the butcher’s knife against democracy. Even Pu Shiguang, with his minor point of opposition in opposing the unique importance of class background did not escape the cruel repression. Pu Shiguang was convicted of the crime of organizing a counter-revolutionary group, arrested, jailed and sentenced to 20 years in prison. This even though the so-called editorial board of the appeal on behalf of non Youth League members consisted of only one person — himself.
KongLingping p15 translation continued.wenlin

p. 15

Section Two My Youth

With the “Liberation Amy” occupation by the end of 1949 of Chongqing and the Southwest came the “democratic reform” movements, the purging of bandits and oppressors, land reform and the Three Opposes and the Five Opposes movements. In 1951 came the large-scale movement to repress counterrevolutionary activity and the capture and murder of millions of people who had served the Nationalist government.

In 1950 I was twelve years old. I often went to the mass rallies to struggle the landlords that were held in neighboring villages. Some of the people who were struggled were still only children. They were forced to kneel with uncovered knees on scraps of iron. Both of their knees bled badly. I couldn’t bear to look at them. The public judgment meeting was led by a commission of military officers. These meetings were held more than once a month in the little town I lived in. Each time some people were executed. On the wharf by the side of the Jialing River at Beibei was enacted the last scene of each judgment. People were shot and human blood dyed the pebbles in the sands along the river. Over time they blackened. Even heavy rains couldn’t wash away the dark spots of blood on the pebbles.

This is continuation of five years of civil war during which compatriots slaughtered and mutilated each other.

In the winter of 1948 my father became the acting president of the Chongqing campus of the Central Political University. The next year he became the president. During the second half of 1949, on the eve of the liberation of Chongqing, he hurriedly sent mother, grandmother, me and my little brother to Beibei where we lived in the home of Liu Hanliang, my father’s classmate and a witness at their wedding.

From then onwards, we settled down in Bebei, a little town on bank of the Jialing River.
In 1951 because of his “crimes against history”, he was summoned to SW Revolutionary University where Liu Bocheng was president to study.
His class was called the “class for especially high-ranking cadres”. After months he graduated and his problems with history were considered to have been “explained clearly”. He was sent back to Beibei and was designated a KMT intellectual who had stayed behind. He was to wait for an assignment.
(1) My family in 1950

[Photo — the author’s family]

My father taught at Central University during the War to Oppose Japan. After the end of the Resistance War, he returned from Chongqing to Nanjing and shortly thereafter became the president of Hangzhou Normal University. During the second half of 1948, he accepted the invitation of Mr. Gu Yuxiu (who had been head of Central University during the War of Resistance) to teach in Nanjing at Central Political University. Our family moved from Hangzhou to Nanjing and later followed father through Shanghai, Guangzhou and then back to Chongqing.

– 16 –

Unexpectedly, at the end of the year he was arrested by the Eastern Sichuan Military Administrative Office. My mother, who graduated from the Suzhou Women’s Normal University was an educator. The teacher adviser to her class section was Sun Qimeng, one of the founders of the China Democratic National Construction Association. Mother’s schoolmates in those years, influenced by the democratic ideas of Sun Mengqi, became student activists at Suzhou Women’s Normal University who in their day shook up the Suzhou Province educational circles. Those activists became sympathizers of the Chinese Communist Party’s underground activities and one by one left Chongqing for Yan’an.

Only after my mother and father married did they settle down in Nanjing. My mother was devoted to running a school, she gave her whole life to education. In 1943 with the help of the Nationalist government munitions industry chief Yu Dawei she founded the Jialing Middle School in the Shuangbei district of Chongqing. After victory in the resistance war, our whole family moved to Nanjing. We had originally hoped that we could finally live in peace in Nanjing. We didn’t realize that civil war would break out and that the five members of our family would again have to be constantly on the move like a little boat constantly buffeted to and fro by the tides of war.

In 1948, it had become clear that the Nationalists would lose. Father had wanted her to take the family to Guangzhou and then on to Taiwan. But mother was confident that her ‘glorious’ past and her friendship with people like Sun Qimeng would stand her in good stead and that the Communist Party would not give her any trouble. So she decided to stay on the mainland and await ‘liberation’.

After 1950, mother got in touch with Sun Qimeng who led the Sixth Bureau of the Chinese Communist State Council. She hoped that the Communist Party would remember a friend from their difficult earlier days and so give her an opportunity to continues her work in education and live a life as an ordinary citizen. Later events would prove, in the era of Mao Zedong, just how weak friendships formed in the old days of the student movement really were.

In 1951, the municipal Bureau of Civil Affairs named her a kindergarten teacher at the nursery of a Beibei district office.
At the end of 1951, two soldiers from the Military Control Committee came to our home to take my father away and searched our home. They confiscated jewelry and money we had saved for years, insisting that this was money the Nationalist government had given to my father to finance his counterrevolutionary activities. The did not give us any receipt for what they took. Mother was so angry about that that she wouldn’t eat for three days. From that time onwards, our family of four had to get by with difficulty on the 30 RMB per month salary that Mother earned.

My maternal grandmother was born during the Guangxu reign (1875 – 1908) of the Qing Dynasty. Her family was poor. When she was 16 she was married to a loafer from Suzhou but he soon came to ignore her. Later, because she gave birth to a boy, her standing in the household improved. Her son, however, soon died. Then she became a cast off wife — she was driven from the household. Two years later, my maternal grandfather died after living the life of a wealthy, hard-drinking playboy. My mother was less than four years old then. In those days, widows were expected to live a chaste and lonely life. Remarrying was difficult. Fulfilling the role of a virtuous widow was expected. This was the only way to maintain the respect and support of friends and relatives. Although my maternal grandmother was not the brilliant scholarly women of the novel “Flowers in the Mirror”, she did in fact meet the customary requirement of chastity — that she “be determined to hold firmly to her integrity and reputation until death”.

From that day onwards, mother and daughter depended upon one another. Grandmother depended upon her needlework and the help of friends and relatives for her support. She lived life of never-ending hardship. She believed that her miserable fate was the result of evil deeds in a previous life. She turned wholeheartedly to Buddha, ate a vegetarian diet, lived by the Buddhist teachings and held herself aloof from the world. She silently carried the heavy burden of getting by in life. Her diet was short of calcium so she developed a hunchback once past the age of 50. I grew up in her arms and it was under her care that the first seeds of my character were formed.

In 1952, I was fourteen and in the second year of middle school. My younger brother was six and had just begun elementary school. We lived in the dormitory of the nursery school on the third floor of a building set on the side of a hill. My school was about three kilometers away. To help out the family, I started working as soon as I started school.

In those days, in the area between Beibei and Fanbanshan there was no running water. Our household water came partly from rainwater which we used to wash our faces and our clothes. Water for cooking had to drawn from the well half a kilometer from home. After my father was taken away to the “Revolutionary University” to study, I began going up the mountain to get water from the well.

A full bucket of water weighed about 25 kilograms. I could only manage to draw half a bucket. The bucket pressed down on my thin and narrow shoulders. Bobbing back and forth as it did, I felt I could go no further than one hundred paces. I had to stop four or five times as I carried the water from the well to our home and arrived all out of breath. Because I was always shifting the carrying pole from one shoulder to the other, my two shoulders were rubbed raw and felt like hot spices. The pain was hard to take. Rainy days were the worst. Sometimes jolted as I slid down the mountainside, if I were not careful I’d fall over. I often got bloody cuts.

After doing this for a year, I got stronger and stronger. Thick calluses formed where the pole had rubbed and made my shoulders sore and swollen. I was able to carry a 50 kilogram water bucket and make my way swiftly and bravely down the mountainside and to my home in five minutes. From then on, I was the one who fetched the water in our house.

After our home was ransacked, it was very hard to support four people on my mother’s salary of 30 RMB per month. When I was in the third year of middle school, the teacher in charge of our class said that if your family is very poor, you can ask the school for a scholarship and be exempted from paying miscellaneous fees. The scholarship application had to be countersigned by the street committee office. The head of the street committee responsible for where we lived was also the chief of the Chaoyang police station. After I wrote and twice revised the scholarship application, I copied it out on writing paper and took it to chief Chen to sign.
The police station was in what had been an old temple at the foot of the hill below Beibei Park. It was very humid that day and it continually sprinkled down little raindrops. The temple, hidden as it was in the shade of some Chinese parasol trees, looked very gloomy. As I went into the grove of parasol trees, the rain droplets hitting the trees made a pattering sound that gave the place a spiritual feeling. This was my first encounter with grown-ups. I was only fourteen but carried the moral burden of a father who had been imprisoned. This was the first time I made contact with the government and so I couldn’t avoid feeling frightened. As I walked in, I could feel my heart beating like a drum.

When I got to the door, I got control of myself, tried hard to calm down my accelerating heartbeats, halting shyly at the doorway. It was dark inside, I couldn’t see clearly and couldn’t tell if there was anyone there. “Hello” I said, calling out to see if anyone was there. Nobody answered. waited a moment and didn’t see any signs of movement. I looked in side and couldn’t make anything. I said to my self, this is the government office, and someone might take me for a thief, I couldn’t tell. So I yelled out again, “hello!”

I heard a poof and the lights came on. In the yellow light, I could see the desk in the middle of the office. Sitting in the chair was a tall, well-built man, the ferocious-looking Chen Family Register. A year ago, when I was making the household registration on behalf of my father, I had come here with my aunt. He was the one who handled the registration. People called him Chen Family Register

He started to move to get up from the chair with a slight yawn and took his feet down from the desktop. I didn’t know if it was I was just a short kid, and on top of that the child of a counter-revolutionary family, he was very irritated that I had woken him up from his nice dream. He eyed me with contempt and lay down again, resuming his original position.

I went in, but in my nervousness forgot completely what I was going to say. So I stood there like an idiot with my right hand reaching into my pocket holding on to the scholarship application. After I had stood there for three minutes, he looked at my disdainfully and asked “What do you want?” I took the scholarship application out but I felt like there was something keeping my mouth shut so I didn’t say a word. I just handed the scholarship application to him. I felt my hand shaking as I reached out towards him. He finally got up from his chair and with his left hand accepted my note. His right hand he kept behind his back just as if he were facing a ghost on a dark night.

He looked at my application. His right hand slowly stretched out, grazing that fat, evil-looking plump chin. He chuckled coldly “I never heard of the child of a counterrevolutionary having the nerve to apply for a people’s scholarship.” As he spoke he through the paper down on the desk. His hei-hei-hei laugh resounded in the little room. I felt as if he had slapped me in the face, as if bees were buzzing in my head and had a burning feeling in my earlobes. In those days, the pain in my soul was piling up, layer upon layer: that morning when father had been arrested, when the whole family had been scared to death. My mother hid in a corner of the bed with my little brother, who was just seven years old, her face full fear. When they ransacked the house, my grandmother and mother were helpless. That Sunday when my mother had to sell clothes in the marketplace, everything spread around her on the ground. Mother’s colleagues at the nursery school who looked at us with contempt.

In that instant it seemed as if everything between heaven and earth begrudged me my very existence. Innumerable faces turned towards me to spit. If then the earth had split just in front of me, I would have hopped right to be become an insubstantial mist, drilling down into that split earth, too filled with shame to ever return to live among human beings.
Suddenly I felt courage surging into my soul. I abruptly stuck out my hand to retrieve that paper he had thrown down on the desk. I rolled the paper up into a ball, and without saying a word, I turned my head away and rushed out the door of that pitch black doorway. I stepped through a puddle. Mud scattered pitter-patter after me. Even as I ran I could still hear that he-he laugh coming through the trees behind me.
My grandmother was washing clothes. I fell into her lap and started crying loudly.
Ever since, that freckled face, that sardonic smile in that ferocious face, bent down like in some evil crouching posture like a malicious ghost often welled up in my dreams even down to this day.

Part III The Child of a Poor Family Soon Takes Responsibility for the Household

A middle-aged woman surnamed Lin lived near us. She had a pigpen in her backyard, raising four pigs for the neighborhood. Every day she bought some 50 kilograms of green pig feed for 30 cents. I saw my chance and so everyday coming home from school I would cut some grass along the way for the pigs. Fields lay on both sides of the two kilometers stretch of road I walked by each day on my way home from school. There were many varieties of ererchang [?] and amaranth. Every day I grabbed some as a I walked home. I could fit about 15 kilos into my bag and so each month I was able to earn about 3 RMB, just enough to pay my monthly tuition.

I was already fourteen so I felt very ashamed about what I was doing. Every day I brought a big bag to school. I was afraid my classmates would see what I was doing so I went to school early so I would be the first one there. I hid the bag in the narrow 50 centimeter space between the wall of the school and the mountainside. After school let out and my classmates had dispersed to their homes, I retrieved it. I rushed to grab the bag from the rear wall and then filled it with grasses on my way home. On the road home, there were two places that I visited frequently — one was the Beibei Hospital and the other was Li Family Gardens, the big home with courtyard that belonged to the landlord family.

In 1952, the Li Family Gardens were confiscated and became the temporary jail of the Beibei Court. The mess of the hospital and the jail both threw their garbage onto the hillside. A lot of ashes were dumped there. Among the ashes were many little bits of not entirely consumed “second-hand coal”. Although there was a lot of garbage and dirty water dumped among the ashes, I often went there with my sack to see what I could find.

Everyday I came home at seven or eight. One day, after it was already dark, I was carrying a heavy sack home. This time I was carrying not pig feed but second-hand coal and firewood.

Each day as I mounted the stone steps, I could my grandmother’s white hair in the moonlight. She was always there bent at the waist, looking for me. Even before I had climbed up the seven meters or so of hillside she would already be on her way down, taking the heavy sack off my back and together with me we would carry it, swaying back and forth, into our home.

When I got home, a basin of piping hot water for washing my face awaited me on a little square stool. I took off my smelly underwear soiled with mud, ash, sawdust and washed the dust and sweat off my face. After washing my face, I sat down with my grandmother and my little brother to eat supper. Grandmother would always put the best food in my bowl. In those days, we only ate meat once a week. Grandmother, when my little brother wasn’t looking, would hide the best food at the bottom of my bowl since she thought I worked very hard every day. I would always take the food out of my bowl and give it to my greedy little brother. By declining to accept things in this way, we came to feel very deeply the warmth that came from out depending so upon one another. In those days, we never lacked firewood or coal to burn and we never had to buy any.

Sometimes early on Sunday mornings I would put on my backpack and to into the thick forest near the Dragon and Phoenix Bridge to gather wild herbs and fish-wort. Mother would take the herbs to the market to sell. The waters in the forest near the Dragon and Phoenix river were permeated with the stinking odor of decaying vegetation. Whenever it rained it would become very slippery. Sometimes I would stumble across a snake jumping up out of the grass. I was never afraid. Somehow the heavens had blessed me, that poor boy. I never had any accident in all my work cutting grass for the pigs, collecting second-hand coal or gathering firewood.

Behind the school was a brickyard kiln. I used to go there to earn some money when I was young. The neighbors praised me for being sensible. Especially kind to me was our next door neighbor Mrs. Yu. She often treated me as if I were her own child. Her attitude towards me went a long way towards relieving the darkness that had come over my life since the arrest of my father.

Despite the suffering and hardships of those days, I was still fairly happy. My grades were among the best in our class. My brother and I never wore new clothes. We mostly wore cloth shoes or straw sandals. Grandmother every evening would get some old cloth to patch the soles of our cloth shoes. She would put paste over the cloth to make a hard shell and then, working by the light of a bulb, sew it to the sole.

One day when I was cutting grass for the pigs on the way home from school, the skies turned dark and thunder and lightning began. I put on my back-sack and ran for home. When I got to the Li Family Gardens, it was raining so very hard that I quickly hid inside the oven in the kitchen of the detention center.

A man about 40 years old came into the kitchen. The back of his blue shirt bore the character “laborer”. I remembered from my history book that during the Qing Dynasty prisoners wore similar shirts except that the character on their back was “prisoner”. He walked over to the oven and opened the door. He took used a hook to start the fire and a thick stream of coal came curling down from the oven. After he had put the coal into the oven he noticed me. In his thick Jiangsu accent he asked me, “Little buddy, where do you go to school?”

“At the Beibei Number One Intermediate School”
“What is your name?”

– 20 –

“Kong Lingping”
“How old are you?
“Twelve years old.”
The rain came down harder and harder so he invited me to come into the kitchen, and even opened up the steamer on the table and took out two big steamed buns for me. I guessed that with the way I look he must have felt very sorry for me. I unconsciously glanced at my toe already sticking out of my straw sandals where the glue had worn out, and shamefully accepted the steamed buns.

“What about your parents? What do they do?”
I looked at him warily. I knew that this is where my father was confined. Every day going to school or coming home I would always unconsciously look at this mysterious building, hoping I would suddenly see him standing on an embankment or at one of the windows. But I never saw him. This uncle was very kind, so I thought I would tell him my name and circumstances and perhaps he would be able to tell me about my father.

As soon as he heard my father’s name, he stared at me as if remembering something. Then he whispered into my ear. “Your father lives in Room XX. There is another building behind it so you can’t see it. I don’t know why but he wears chains on his feet. He added “People here who are in chains are certainly in serious trouble. If it isn’t wanting to escape, it is that they haven’t confessed or haven’t admitted their guilt.” After he finished speaking, he stared at me.

I was astonished to hear all that. Not only fearing for my father’s safety, but also worried about the dangerous things he had got himself into. I asked, “May I come here to see him?”
“That is difficult. However, if you really want to see him, you can go to the works site at the Zhang Family river bend. He works there every day from nine in the morning until three in the afternoon..”

The rain gradually tapered off and the sky was already a yellow dusk. My had thought that I would take some of that second-hand coal that had just been taken out of the furnace, but I was feeling dispirited so I just grabbed my bag and my book bag and headed home.

I told my grandmother the news as soon as I got home. Ever since father had been arrested, grandmother had been the most broken-hearted of us all. She was the senior member of our household of five and the eldest. Among Chinese people, the love and concern older generation has for the younger generation often exceeds the love people of the younger generation have for one another or for the elder generation.

– 21 –

She had often been praying and when she thought no-one was there, wailing and crying. “Xiangjia has been gone nearly a year”, she would say to her daughter, “but we still don’t know what he did wrong. Where is he being held? We don’t know how he is doing. What does he need? No matter what, we should go to the court and ask about him. …. If you don’t want to visit him in jail, I’ll go by myself. You get a letter of introduction from your work unit and give it to this old women. What does someone who will soon be dead have to be afraid of?”

This was even harder on my mother. She had to take care of the whole family, who had it harder than she did?

You can just imagine what my mother felt when she heard the news. The nursery didn’t have any Communist Party members then. The leader was Zhang Shimo, the secretary of the Youth League. Zhang thought mother, who had been the principal of a middle school, looked down on her since she had only just graduated from middle school. With that in play, she was especially determined to strict in her education of that “counter-revolutionary family”. Often whenever she spoke with mother, it was in her official capacity, telling her that she should “take the initiative to draw a clear line between herself and her counter-revolutionary husband. Take the initiative to expose the counter-revolutionary crimes of your husband. Only that will the Party organization take her circumstances into consideration.”

Whenever Zhang Shimo made a reprimand to mother, who was twenty years her senior, she seemed to get a strange sort of arousal from the fear and confusion that my mother showed. That arousal was a high for her, so she would reprimand my mother more harshly each time. Mother’s face became grayer by day, at night she could barely see. She often woke to terrible nightmares. Several times she just fainted for no apparent reason. Often when I came home from school I would discover her sitting by a lamp alone with a blank stare.

She was fearful and confused: what crime did I commit? What crime did my husband commit? Is all this because my husband was the principle of a KMT school? While he was principal, he never made “spy reports” about anyone. Nobody, teacher or student, were ever hauled off to jail from his school. Yes, when the students were in the streets demonstrating, he did admonish those hot-blooded children, but that was only because he was the principal of a school. He had to be concerned where human lives might be lost. He did indeed improve the food in the student cafeteria. What crime is that? Were the students opposed to hunger? He got up every morning and took a broom to sweep the entrance to the school. Was that working to destroy the student movement? If these things are wrong, how is someone to be principal of a school? All this considered to be working for the KMT. But wasn’t all that explained to the government while he was still in the southwest? And did the government say that it would forgive past transgressions?

Zhang Shimo’s harshness and sarcasm beat day by day down upon my mother. She was terrified. Would some of her jewelry be taken as evidence that she had “received expense money for counterrevolutionary activities?” Would she be arrested and sent to prison as well?
If that were to happen? what would happen to her two minor children? How would her 70-year old mother survive? The more she through about it, the sadder she got. The more she thought about it, the more she regretted how she didn’t listen to her husband and stubbornly insisted that they remain on the mainland. At that point, death seemed preferable to life and she thought about killing herself.

(4) Mama Yu

Mama Yu was our next-door neighbor. Her husband was the accountant at the nursery school. She herself was a peasant girl from Hechuan and about the same age as my mother. She had five children. The eldest was a year younger than me and her youngest was just one year old. Depending on her husband’s meager salary to support their family of five, she was even worse off than we were. She was fortunate that she came from a poor family and so learned to be frugal from the start. She not only took care of the children, but did all the housework and washed clothes for twenty people in our neighborhood.

– 22 –

Washing clothes was especially difficult back then since you had to go down to the Jialing River to wash them. She would go off to do her wash and ask my grandmother to look after her three smallest children. For the children of the neighborhood, because she was especially hardworking and always ready to help out her neighbors, she was like a mother. The children in the building always called her Mother Yu.

My grandmother wasn’t about to be going up and down the hill, so Mama Yu bought our rice and vegetables for us. Every noontime I saw her carrying a big bag of clothes on her back and a big basket of vegetables as she struggled her way up the hill.

After Father was arrested, our neighbors kept their distance from our family. Naturally compassionate Mama Yu was the only one who consoled my grandmother and mother.

Whenever she heard my mother weeping, Mama Yu would come over to console her. “What good can worrying do you? Worrying can ruin your health, and so what would grandmother do? What would the two children do?” Mama Yu would take a cloth to wipe my mother’s tears. She’d say “Look, your boy Xiaoping carries water, collects second-hand coal, cuts grass for the pigs and gets good grades in school. How can a mother who has such a son be heart-broken? You are angry, who are you going to be angry with? Anger that makes you ill will only hurt you yourself. These years there are just so many people who have suffered — with the struggles against the landlords, the killings of the local despots, the arrests of the counter-revolutionaries, and the arrests of the corrupt and of the greedy. Just look at Wang Guangying who lives across the way. Her husband was imprisoned and she has two children smaller than yours. She has a heavy burden but still she still get on with life. Grandmother is a good-hearted person. You are a good person, and as for your husband, what did he ever do against the revolution? I just don’t see it.

I am worse off than you are. If it weren’t for grandmother often taking care of my three children, how could I ever get down to the river to wash clothing? People should be compassionate, if you have some problem, just let me know. Grandmother says that she wants to go see someone. Whenever she wants, I’ll go with her to the court. We are honest people so what have we to fear?”

People need to be counseled since if someone got thinking over and over on a narrow track over trifling matters, then if they do not get counseling some unimaginable tragedy could occur. But if a person can just speak up and talk with them, it can be avoided. Mother was encouraged by Yu Mama’s words and gradually came out of it and put aside her hopelessness and suicidal thoughts.

When she heard the news that farther was working at the Zhang Jia Bend, grandmother immediately went to Mama Yu to ask her if she could find the time some day to go with her to the work site to see father. Mama Yu agreed without hesitation. They decided to go on Sunday, since Uncle Yu would be at home and he could watch the kids. I didn’t have school on Sunday so I could go too. I got a walking stick ready for grandmother. Grandmother got some soap, towels and a roll of straw paper and put it in her bag.

From home to the Zhang Family Bend we walked on small country roads. We got very early that day and so grandmother, Mama Yu and I got on the road just after dawn broke.

The air felt very fresh in the countryside that early autumn day. But the mountain road was muddy and so grandmother, who had bound feet, walked very slowly. She had not been out in the countryside for a long time, so naturally she looked around a lot.

I was especially careful since I was very worried grandmother would fall. My hurt was churning with emotions I couldn’t express. How was father, was he healthy? How serious was his case? Will he be able to come home?
Mama Yu was always nodding to the people we passed on the road. She had lots of friends.
By the time we got to the Zhang Family Bend work site, it was already eleven. We could hear some noise in the distance. The clanging of two hammers hitting steel rods. The sound of falling rocks and gravel. The faraway call of the stonemason. Then the jumbled calls of many men together. When the road ended we could make out the shapes of men in a ravine.

The “work site” was the narrow ravine between two hills. In the ravine were forty or fifty men, all wearing shirts with the character “labor” written on the back. I thought that my father must be among them.

I saw that in the thick grass in a crevice there were install two machine guns. When we three, an elderly woman, a middle-aged woman and a child got to the fork in the road, the sentry noticed us. He said that no-one is allowed to stop here. Quick-thinking Mama Yu said hurriedly asked the soldier, “Ah, Comrade, what is the way to Leiyin Rock?” The soldier sized us up, realizing that we were on the way to visit relatives, waved us away, saying. “You can’t walk this way. Go around the mountain ridge.” He pointed towards a bridge to the east and to a small road overgrown with grass that was very hard to make out.

– 23 –

I supported my grandmother and pretended to try to find our way and started to climb the ridge.

(5) The Last Time I Saw Father

Once we got on the ride, we had a bird’s eye view of the men down below. I nervously searched among the group of men. The sentries weren’t paying any attention to us, they were talking amongst themselves. I squatted in the thick grass and tugged on Mama Yu and grandmother to squat down as well. They immediately bent down. They pushed aside the grass to look in the direction I was pointing.

I saw him — my father!

He wore the gray uniform of Reform Through Labor.

His feet were bound to fetters. He was thin and pale and walked with difficulty. His head was shaven bald in contrast to his dark face. He seemed not to have shaved for a long time. I felt so sad, the tear flowed down my face. I turned around to see grandmother. She covered her face with a cloth as the warm tears flowed. Father was bent down swinging his pick. He could not have imagined that that his family which he never stopped thinking about was at that moment were staring down at him with tears in their eyes from the grass on the cliff above.

The sentry on the cliff opposite finally noticed the route we had taken and called out to us in a loud voice, waving at us, demanding that we leave. We could but drag our feet as we slowly made our way back as Mama Yu took us in hand for the long road back.

That was the last time I saw my father.

The next Sunday, grandmother, again with the help of Mama Yu, went to the court. The duty officer at the court asked for a letter of introduction from our work unit. Mama Yu said she didn’t know that some proof was needed in order to see someone. Although we didn’t get to see father, the duty officer finally surrendered to the persistent persuasion of Mama Yu and accepted the soap, grass paper and cloth that grandmother had brought for father.

When grandmother asked what crime father had committed, the duty officer said, “His case can’t be discussed with his family. You go home now.”

Mother, put under great political pressure, finally did file a “divorce” lawsuit with the court. We didn’t understand why she did that. She must have been thinking that that was the only way that she could escape from the heavy mental shackles that had been put on her.

Half a year later, we got a letter father had written to us from prison. I was the addressee. The first sentence of the letter is that he had agreed to the divorce with mother. He wrote that he had already received his prison sentence and that he was currently in Xikang in a lumber-cutting labor camp. He wrote that everything was fine, that he was in good health. He wrote that we would certainly meet again and that was a goal he would strive for.

The last sentence he wrote in the letter was “My son Xiaoping, Dad has let you down. I have to let you go before you have become an adult. Fortunately you are already grown up and are a sensible boy. Study hard, take care of your grandma and your mother. Now I pass to you those heavy responsibilities..”

I was a fool! How was it that I couldn’t see the tear-stains all over that letter? How is it that I didn’t perceive the underlying tone of despair that he was doomed? I really thought that he was still alive and well somewhere and that we would see him someday. I made exactly the same mistake as my mother. I didn’t write back. In my ignorance I thought for my own survival and future, I could not openly express my love for him.

– 24 –

Section Three Disaster Strikes

Ma Kaixian and I avoided the “free airing of views” and hid in our haven that we had chosen in the back of the Chongqing University campus. But the ideological tide from democracy and freedom finally swept up Ma Kaixian. I couldn’t stop her from near the end of an airing of views meeting, from going up to the speaker’s platform and with her accented voice trembling with righteousness, talk about some terrible injustices that occurred during the 1951 “The Three Antis and the Five Antis” campaign against corruption in government and industry. She also said that she agreed with Dong Shiguang [Note: a prominent Chinese academic expelled from the US in 1955 for being pro-communist who two years later was attacked for criticizing the lack of democracy in China. He died in 1960 of starvation in a labor camp, one among the many victims of the great famine.]

I really never imagined that an already-prepared net of disaster was already in motion and would soon fall upon our heads.

Those young university students, just embarked upon the great journey of life, innocent new born calves excited by ideas about democracy fell right into the trap “openly” prepared for them.

For Chongqing University students, including the Pu Shiguang, the Communist Youth League branch secretary, the Communist Party was a majestic “mother”. They naively believed that the Communist Party was forged from “special materials” and its members are all people of excellent moral character. They never dreamed that the Party by making the “honest” pledge that no blame will come to them for speaking forthrightly was a trap!

These naive children didn’t realize that beneath the pretense of “being honest with one another” at the meetings organized by the “speak up” movement, lay a trap for the “six criteria for recognizing poisonous weeds”. Once they had spoken their minds, they were all rounded up.

– 25 –

The “working class” of the school — the cooks in the cafeteria, the temporary workers, and the guards — organized and did a “show of force” demonstration that started from the Democracy Lake shore past the student dormitories to the recently-repaired road. They yelled slogans like “We will not allow you to attack the glorious Communist Party of China”, “Rightists, stop telling lies”.

The students gathered to watch them. Later, the various university departments gathered for a discussion. The students had no idea just who those “rightists” might be. They never imagined that the organizers for the demonstration were Director Zhang and Cao Yingmen.

Those two people were sharp enough to see their opportunity and grabbed it. They distinguished themselves in the subsequent anti-rightist movement. They pasted up on the walls fiercely-worded anti-rightist big character posters one after another. In place of the cartoon pasted up by Lin Yusen, there was a poster with the big characters “I accuse” put up. Those posters depicting Director Zhang as a pig and party secretary Song as midget-size monster were torn down and kept in the rectification office of the Chongqing University Party Committee.

Ferociously-worded posters such as “What does xx mean by saying that the faculty should run the school?” , “Don’t let XX insult the Communist Party”, and “The true nature of counter-revolution: non youth league members in the editorial office”. At first the students who were called out by name stood in front of the spot where they had pasted up posters with the feeling that a big disaster was about to overtake them.

Some people even got up on the platform of the “Meeting to Criticize the Words and Actions of Rightists” and, like a little fish caught in a net, started trying to wriggle free, saying that they had good intentions and begged pitifully for mercy. But what room for “debate” remained? The people in charge of the criticism meeting would just shout at them “Enough of your sophistry!” The only way out was to make a clear statement, lower your head to confess guild and thrown themselves upon the mercy of the people.

Everyone who has been criticized at a criticism meeting is given a folded up piece of paper and required to write down an endless number of items under “my examination”. There were a few classmates with character who refused to admit guilt. I saw at the struggle meeting of the Machinery Department, there was a sophomore named Yin Shihong who held his head high and refused to say a word. After the meeting he refused to write out his “examination”. He was immediately separated from the others and locked up as a punishment. At the Welding Department criticism meeting Pu Shiguang faced a gauntlet of toughs. He answered them with a bitter sarcasm and he too was immediately locked up.

In this way the warm breezes of spring quickly turned into a stream of cold air. The atmosphere of the school which had just started to become lively became thick and stifling.

Fortunately I was able to avoid the initial onslaught. This was because I took heed of the warning “stay out of politics” and my “numbness” with respect to anything having to do with the Communist Party. As far as I was concerned the work of the “political designing academy” was a far away from me as any odd bit of overseas news. I paid no attention to the People’s Daily report references to Li Kangnian’s suggestion that national capitalists be bought out for 20 years of interest or Huang Shaohong critique of “the Party taking the place of government”. I didn’t even go to the Songlinpi Hall to hear Dong Shiguang’s report. Just for that reason — I had not attended any of the large or small “speak up” meetings, I was for the moment safe from the “autumn investigations”. Later, when each of the departments posted photographs of the speak out big character posters as “poisonous weeds”, I cried in fear, “this is very dangerous”.

The Machinery Department’s class party committee, under the guidance of party branch propaganda committee head Cao Ying was unusually active. We can’t really say that Cao Ying came to university to learn a profession. Better to say that Cao was the ruling cadre of the Communist Party in the school. Cao’s classmates said that Cao failed nearly every class. Cao’s specialty was persecuting other people.

– 26 –

In those days, Cao relied on a “revolutionary” sense of smell trained over several years. It was a matter of “accepting the trial assigned by the Party” and completing the “special task assigned by the Party”. This experience prepared the way for Cao’s subsequent success in the Young Communist movement. How can anyone ever pass up such an opportunity?

Cao was especially busy those days. Nearly all the Machinery Department criticism meetings were chaired by Cao. All the teachers and students who had expressed views at the speak up meetings were pushed up one by one onto the criticism platform.

Ma Kaixian was not able to avoid getting into trouble. She was called upon by Cao Ying to make a special talk. She was a member of the Communist Youth League and so was required according to the Six Criteria separate out the poisonous weeds and write out a report on her own words, actions and consciousness. Cao Ying threatened her saying, anyone who had spoken up against the Communist Party during Dong Shiguang’s speak out meeting will have suffer severe punishments.

Ma Kaixian would not go along. She suddenly gave the chair of the Machinery Department a note announcing that she was withdrawing from school. She got a letter from her parents telling her that she had gotten into this situation because of my influence. Her big brother wrote to her saying that she should immediately break up with me. In their views, the only way that she could possibly have become so “reactionary” was due to my influence. When I heard that she planned to withdraw from school, I strongly opposed the idea. We got into a heated argument. She said that these days studying is meaningless. She had no interest in studying. I, however, thought that if you don’t study, how can you possibly survive in this society?

One afternoon, I dragged her Songlinpo, to the home of our department chairman Qian Qifan. Professor Qian also admonished her to relax and stay in school. She was a stubborn person and refused to be convinced. When we left Professor Qian’s home, I suddenly and thoughtlessly blurted out, “If you quit school, then we’ll just have to break up.”

One careless word and we parted unhappily. When I fell in love I did not realize what a fragile sweet fruit love really is. One careless word destroyed it. The misfortunes I suffered later made me realize the Ma Kaixian’s decision to quit school had been both correct and wise. Unfortunately my regrets came too late.

When summer vacation came, I went home alone and heart-broken to Beibei. When we parted at the train station, she told me that she would stay with her aunt in the city for a little while. She would still need to return to school since the school still had not accepted her application to quit school.

My little brother came to welcome me home. He took my bags and excitedly called out to grandmother. Grandmother came out when she heard his voice. As usual she looked me over with her kindly eyes and caressed my head saying, “You are thinner than when you came home for winter vacation.” Mother was still very worried. Although she had divorced father four years before, she still suffered from both the social pressure and the accusations of her own conscience. For years she had not written father a letter and had no idea what had become of him. Nonetheless, she often blamed herself. Her guilty feelings often gave her nightmares.

We never got a notice of father’s sentence or the verdict in his case. At first, we would go to the court and ask timidly about him but the court refused to respond. Moreover, they would say people in your situation have not right to ask questions. After getting those unreasonable rejections, we didn’t dare to ask anymore and never dared to make objections.

Not until 24 years later, after writing several dozen letters, did a learn of my father’s fate. Finally the Sichuan Province Public Security Bureau wrote me a little letter, no bigger than the palm of my hand, informing me that my father had died of an illness on May 6, 1956 in a re-education through labor lumber camp in Xikang.

(1) Can’t Avoid the Trap Set in Plain Sight

In 1957, mother finally, in the warmth of the “friendly spring breezes” of the campaign for the free airing of views broke her years of silence. She cautiously told the head of the nursery school Ni Peilan that she had doubts about the “counter-revolutionary case” against her husband. Weren’t they told after studying at the Revolution University that they had made a clean breast of the historical problems in their pasts? Didn’t Deng Xiaoping as the “teacher in charge” proclaim at the completion ceremony “You have finally set down the heavy burden of your personal histories. Now you can without any hesitation join the ranks of the revolutionaries?” Weren’t they allowed take up their teaching duties at a time when China was terribly short of teachers? How could the government’s policy change so suddenly?

Moreover, that so-called “counter-revolutionary activity funds” was a complete fabrication. How could a household’s savings be considered “activity funds”? Those few doubts that mother expressed at those “free airing of views” meetings made her fall into the trap in plain sight that Mao Zedong had set. She paid a terrible price for it all the rest of her life!

Only a few days after I got back home, Zhou Shengbi called me to her office. There was another one there, Zhang Shimo. People of that age were the older generation. They had watched us grow up. They had to admit deep in their hearts that of all the children of the families who sent their children to the nursery school, I was the hardest working, the one who applied himself the most, and the child who was the most obedient.

After I was enrolled at Chongqing University, they saw me differently. They were superficially very polite and showed respect whenever we ran into each other. But towards them I always felt very modest, a modesty blended with fear and trepidation.

“We called you in so that we could understand some things better and so that you can help your mother”, Zhang Shimo said. “Did your mother write a letter to you during the period of “free airing of views”?

Zhou Shengbi took out a fountain pen and started to write in a little notebook. I nodded but didn’t understand their intention. “Did those letters mention your father?”, Zhang Shimo continued. She looked at me with sly glances. I hesitated and then nodded, not understanding where she was headed.

“How many letters did your mother write to you?”

What were they after?

I thought about the materials on the Hu Feng counterrevolutionary group. All that material came from letters. I started to get worried.

Mother in her letters certainly mentioned her doubts about my father’s arrest and what she said at the “speak freely” meetings. But how could that be a crime? I answered honestly “Two or three letters I think.”

Zhang Shimo with what was certainly counterfeit “generosity” and “encouragement” said to me: “Young fellow, you are already a college student. You have a good career ahead of you. Study hard. You can held your mother. People of the old society tend to get caught up in little details, it is hard for them to adjust to new things.” Her interrogation left me very confused. I was already 19 years old but still very naive. I didn’t realize that a disaster was already quietly coming my way.

When I got home, my grandmother was all smiles. For her, our family of four, including her two grandchildren, and especially me, were specially entrusted to her care and were really and extension of herself. She would do anything for us two grandchildren.

(2) My grandmother

From the time I was very small, my parents were too busy to care for me so I was completely in the care of my grandmother. Every evening I slept at her feet. In the middle of the summer of 1957 she called me to her and told me those old stories that she had told me I don’t know how many times before. How my birth had been so difficult for my mother at the Nanjing Bell Tower Hospital, about how the Japanese bombers were raining down all over Nanjing, about how the nurses were so incompetent that I was nearly smothered. About how we had escaped from a Nanjing aflame, about how she had carried me past scattered corpses and piles of abandoned infants into the great stream of fleeing refugees. He disheveled gray hair covered up her wrinkled face. I realized that she had become quite old and her back was more and more bent.

When the subject of her curved back came up, she would describe how tough things were during the war years. “During the War of Resistance, our family fled from Nanjing to Chongqing. We were so poor that we could only rent an attic in the Great Purity Temple. The attic was low and dark. People living their couldn’t stand straight up. It was cheap, only five copper coins a month. During the day your parents were very busy. You and all the housework were left up to me. When you were small, you were lucky because your wet nurse had excellent milk and you grew white and fat. Days you would always want to be carried so I was always bending over to pick you up and carrying you around as I did the laundry. After half a year of that, my back started to get bent.” As she talked about these things, her face shone with the joy of remembrance.

Every time I saw her bent graying body, I would always feel some regrets that were hard to put into words. Widowed as a youth, in her middle age she went along with her daughter frantically fleeing from place to place. She had worked hard all her life, never knowing any kind of relief. I held her callused hand and said, “Grandmother, you have spent your whole life carrying for us two brothers. You have never had any comforts. When I graduate from college, I want you to come live with me. I’ll find a nice room for you so that you can happily live out the late years of your life.” She laughed and tears came to her eyes.

By the third week of summer vacation, I had gotten gloomy. My mother’s constant sadness was weighed heavily on me. I often thought about Ma Kaixian and how she had given up all hope. If it weren’t for this year’s “free airing of views”, we would had planned to come back for the summer vacation on the same train to Beibei. Her aunt and uncle were teaching at the Southwest Agricultural College. She could have stayed with them and we could have spend a month of summer vacation happily going to Red Cloud Mountain and Northern Hot Springs. But those plans had fallen through. She was busy this vacation with her application to withdraw from school. I had no idea what might become of our relationship.

Because I was feeling badly, I went back to school five days early. My little brother helped me get my things together. Grandmother kept reminding me over and over “Don’t forget to take your winter clothes!”. She seemed to have a premonition of misfortune. She kept telling me “Be careful of what you say at school. Don’t get into arguments. She took her walking stick and held on to my hand and walking unsteadily accompanied me to out the bamboo door. When I had crossed the road, she suddenly called me back to her side. She caressed my head. Overcome by my feelings, I bent down and put my face against her gray forehead and kissed her. I felt her warm tears flowing down my cheeks and onto my neck. When I got to the bend in the road, I looked back and could see her silhouetted, standing still for a long while by the wooden gate. Like an old photograph that one can never bear to throw away, this image of her had staying in my memory for all my life.

She perhaps that promise I had made to her was indeed what she had dreamed of all her own life. But it finally burst like a soap bubble. And that parting, which proved to be our final parting, nourished the feelings I have had for her all my life.

– 29 –

(3) Ma Kaixian

After I had got back to school and was just entering my dormitory, I ran into Guo Yinghua, who had stayed at school to “work”. She looked at me in surprise and asked, “Why did you come back alone? Where is Ma Kaixian?” I was astonished and had a premonition that something was wrong. I answered “How would I know where she went?”

“Did you have a fight? Didn’t you leave together the day that school let out? So how is it that you came back by yourself? Making some drunken scene, the school is investigating that incident.”

I said, “We did leave school together, but when we got to the station, she wanted to go to her aunt’s home so we parted. I don’t know where she went after that.”

Guo Yinghua then gave me the details about what had happened that day.

That evening about 9 PM, Ma Kaixian returned along to her dormitory room with a bottle of liquor and a bag of candy and closed the door. Soon some singing could be heard, the words were hard to make out, but seemed to be the “Song of Rita” [from the Indian film Awara] and then some mad laughter then weeping and the sound of breaking glass.

Someone looked into the room through a crack. She was alone, her face all red and swinging her arms and legs wildly in “dance”. Only half the bottle of liquor remained. A broken wine glass lay at her feet.

The people outside knocked on the door but to no avail. Suddenly the room quieted down. Guo Yinghua ran to the men’s dormitory to get Chen Si and Liu Dagui. They kicked open the door and found Ma Kaixian vomiting. The room stunk of liquor. When I heard that, I realized that the tragedy had begun. I hurried to her room and stood helplessly by her desk.

Was her drunkenness and crazy dance because of me? Could girls really be so fragile? Where did she go? Where could I go look for her? I just couldn’t calm down. I had very complex feelings — could she have gone out and killed herself?

I decided that the first thing I would do would be to visit her aunt. I opened her drawer to look at the letters she had gotten. One the letters were two addresses in Chongqing. One was no. 10 on a certain road in Huangyuan. The other was in the Pipa Mountain Park.

I hurried out the school gate and got on a bus for Niujiaotou. After arriving in Niujiaotou, I set out on foot. As I looked for the address on the envelope I asked people along the way for directions. After wandering around for four hours looking for the address, I finally found her aunt on a road in Pipa Park at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. The owner opened the gate in the wall. Inside I could here the voice of Ma Kaixian.

She was wearing a white one piece dress. She came down from upstairs. She was astonished to see me. She ask in an apologetic voice “How did you find me?”

I felt like a giant boulder had just been lifted off my heart. I put on a mysterious tone of voice and said “I have ESP. Wherever you wander in the world, I can find you.”

I swallowed back the apology that I had prepared on the bus ride. Our misunderstanding immediately cleared up.

“Have you eaten yet?” She asked. Just then I felt my stomach rumbling. From when I heard the news that morning in Beibei to that moment for nine hours I hadn’t eaten a thing. I had completely forgotten fatigue and hunger while caught up in this unexpected chain of events.

– 30 –

That evening, her aunt’s cooking tasted great and we ate it very happily. I have learned my lesson. For now, I would hold my tongue about her withdrawal from school and did not ask about her drunken singing that evening. Her aunt was very warm. I couldn’t tell if she could be against our first love, like her mother and elder brother were.

After supper, Ahxian and I walked along a road by the river. We leaned on a stone wall and looked at the twists and turns of the Jialing River. Both sides of the river were lit up by the lights of houses perched on the cliffs which together with the moon made quite a romantic picture. Many worries surged came to mind, I thought of my mother’s depression, and I looked at Ahxian who as the river breeze brushed by her one piece dress looked so attractive and beautiful.

I hoped that she would return to school with me the next day, but she refused. It seemed that the efforts I made the day before hadn’t changed her mind about withdrawing from school.

The school term did not begin on schedule. Self-study took up most of our time. After the October 1st National Day, a pledge and mobilization meeting for those who would go down to the countryside and help the peasants was held for one thousand students on Unity Plaza. The next day, students went to Jingkou to take part in “tempering oneself through manual labor” to build earthen river embankments.

After the army of “going to the countryside to help peasants” students laborers left, the campus felt empty that fall. After several days of steady rain, the campus seemed bleak and lonely. Depression and a vague sense that something bad was coming pressed upon me ever closer.

Finally the day came when Chen Si called me to a secluded classroom. In a stern tone he said to me, “You need to earnestly reflect on your thoughts, words and actions during the Speak Frankly Campaign, including the works and actions of your mother which were not advantageous to socialism as well as the words and actions of Ma Kaixian.” He added, “You need to understand the situation clearly and seize the initiative. The Party is very clear in its policy. We should learn from our past mistakes just as we cure an illness to save someone. All the errors in word and deed committed during the Speak Frankly Campaign need to be brought out into the open so that people can be given the benefit of criticism. No-one should hope that they can trust to luck and pass unnoticed.”

He immediately gave me a stern warning. “The organization already has a good understanding of your situation. You weren’t ask to participate in the well-digging work this time in order to give you plenty of time to reflect on your problems. Confessing early is better than letting things drag out. Not confessing means that you are stubbornly resisting. A person’s character can change. We hope that you will make use the method for resolving contradictions among the people to solve your problem.” When he finished he gave me a pile of manuscript paper. That was the paper used a year ago in the Campaign Oppose Hu Feng and given to students with problems so that they could confess.

When I got the paper I got tense. I would have to finally change my original attitude of staying away from political campaigns and focusing instead on my own interests.

A little later I got a letter from my younger brother. He said that Mother had already asked him to write to me and said that Mother was under supervision of the party organization. Zhou Shengbi had warned her that during this period she may not write a letter to Chongqing University.

Right away, I grabbed my copy of the little booklet “On the Resolution of Contradictions Among the People”. I compared the six criteria for distinguishing between fragrant flowers and noxious weeds. During the Speaking Frankly Campaign I had not made any public speeches, so there was not a problem of rightists words or actions.

I don’t know which of the six standards my mother violated. Had she divided the people? Had she harmed socialist transformation and construction? Had she harmed or weakened the people’s democratic dictatorship? Had she harmed or weakened democratic centralism? Had she rejected or weakened the leading role of the Communist Party? Or had she harmed the unity of the international socialist movement?

I thought that if mother during the Speak Frankly Campaign had brought up some doubts about policies in connection to my father’s case, then it would not constitute one of the six serious crimes of doing harm or weakening.

– 31 –

As for Ma Kaixiang, what did she say during the Speak Frankly Campaign? The Party is everywhere? Let Professors run the university? Looking over the six main criteria, that could only be connected to suspicion of shaking off or weakening the leadership of the Communist Party.

My view was that pure and honest Ma Kaixian could not be though to be like some “sly plotter” or a “sinister and ruthless” capitalist class rightist. When I realized that I began to relax. But mother’s worried face appeared before my eyes. Chen Si’s warning had gotten my nerves all tightly wound up.

I hadn’t seen Ma Kaixian since school started. I found her from afar working in a labor brigade that had been sent down to the countryside. She seemed to be avoiding me. What was she avoiding? Kaixian, you may already know that I have gotten into trouble. I am always thinking of you. I so need your encouragement and support.

(4) An Absurd Defense

I suddenly decided that I should write her a letter.

The first letter went, “Kaixian, do you know how my mother is suffering? Ever since Father was arrested, the burden of caring for our family of four has fallen on her. The added moral pressure of being part of the family of a counter-revolutionary led to her finally deciding to divorce my father. When she was young she was already an accomplished educator. She is dedicated to her profession. During the recent Speak Frankly Campaign, she thought she would present to the Party the doubts that she had had over the years and to rid herself of the suspicion that she had been covering up her husband’s crimes for years. That is why she spoke out, there was nothing else behind it.”

That so-called letter to Ma Kaixian was sent to Mother’s work unit for them to see. Hadn’t Zhang Shimo been looking for the letters between Mother and myself? Letting Zhang Kaimo see this letter to my girlfriend would help defend mother from false accusations.

The second letter went like this: “Mother, how are you? Are grandmother and little brother well? I have been worried all summer about returning to school. When I got back to school, I found out that Ma Kaixian had misunderstood me and had gotten too upset. She even got drunk and got hurt. I feel that I have let her down, she really loves me. She is a very kind-heated girl. I don’t know why even now she can’t get over it. I haven’t seen her since school started. I worry about her a lot. I don’t want her to quit school. That would ruin her future, I can’t imagine how things would turn out for her if she did that. A girl going out into society alone to make a living is quite dangerous. Mother, I beg you, please talk to her, maybe she will listen to you. Help her realize how foolish that choice really is that she is making. ”

This was called a letter to mother but it was actually sent to Ma Kaixian.

The addresses on the two letters were of course switched so that the so-called letter to Ma Kaixian were sent to the Beibei nursery where mother worked and the so-called letter to mother was put in an envelope to send to Jingkou.

Those two letters were filled with my feelings of helplessness. I didn’t know what to do. If in those days I could have seen through Mao Zedong’s cruel plot, I would not have put on such a foolish act.

I felt relieved after I sent out those two letters.

Those days were very difficult. Two months felt like years. I never got any reply to the letters. I wondered if the letters ever reached their intended recipients. In early December, I send two letters that were exactly like the previous two in both content and in their deliberate misdirection.

This time, I finally got an answer from Beibei.

– 32 –

(5) Last reunion with my younger brother

On day in mid December 1957, at about 11 AM, my little brother suddenly appeared at the door of my dormitory. His arrival was like a spring wind for me in my winter of loneliness and sadness. He brought with him more worries. He held a yellow cloth bag in his hand as he stood shyly in my doorway. I jumped up when I saw him. I held tightly onto his freezing cold hand.

“When did you come?”

“Early this morning.”

There were other people in the room so he couldn’t say anything more.

He opened up the yellow bag and said “This is for you from grandmother. It has gotten cold and grandmother wants to make sure that you take care of your health.” He brought out a pair of woolen socks made from recycled knitting wool, a pair of cloth shoes, and 20 RMB wrapped up in a handkerchief. When I saw the socks, I realized how hard it had been, stitch by stitch to knit those socks with her spectacles in the darkness of dim light at home in the evenings.

At noon, I went with him to the cafeteria to eat lunch, then took him by the hand and exited the school gate, and slowly walked over to the Xiaolongkan Hospital. My hemorrhoids had not yet healed and so I still had a bed there. There wasn’t anyone else in the room so it was a good place for us brothers to have a heart-to-heart talk. My brother sat in front of the bed and told me what had happened after I left home.

“Since you left, the nursery school has been holding a series of criticism meetings. Mother and Chen Yu become the object of criticisms. Mother’s most serious issues is that she has kept trying to have the verdict against father overturned. At the criticism meetings and outside the meetings, people are always trying to get her to confess, and particularly on the connection between you and mother, charging that the two of you are conspiring in a kind of alliance. At the criticism meeting last week, mother was made to wear the hat that labeled her as a rightist element and instructed that if she wants to leave the compound or to write a letter she must first notify the organization. ”

Younger brother spoke very slowly as if something was caught in his throat. As he spoke he was reflecting on just what all this means.

He was only twelve years old. I could see reflected in the dull look in his eyes the shadows and ineffable hurt that had settled onto his fragile soul. Mother was labeled a rightist. I had understand that already during summer vacation from the attitude and expression of Zhou Shengbi. I had expected this, so it didn’t hit me very hard.

Brother continued saying, “Grandmother gave me the yellow bag yesterday to bring to you along with 5 RMB to pay my bus fare. She told me to come to see you right away. She said that the situation at home is not good and so she doesn’t want you to come home and not to write anymore. She said that Zhou Shengbi took your letters and is using them at the criticism meetings to show that you will never mend your ways. Grandmother wants you to stay at school during the Spring Festival and to take good care of your health. She warns you watch your words when you talk with people.”

After brother was finished, we were both silent. We felt a great weight on our hearts and our minds felt empty.

The twilight came and I suddenly realized that the Spring Festival was only a few days away. I certainly can’t go home this year so I said “Tonight we’ll go to a restaurant and let that be our Spring Festival get together. Tonight you’ll spend in my hospital room with me. Tomorrow morning I’ll go with you to the Beibei bus to see you off. ”

– 33 –

My younger brother’s eyes lit up for a moment. He nodded his head and said, “Fine, this evening we will celebrate the Spring Festival.”

We two brothers went hand-in-hand on the Chaoshiben side of the river. We went into a restaurant and chose seats by a window overlooking the river. It was Spring Festival so of course we wanted to be a bit extravagant. We went way overboard and ordered five different dishes. Younger brother’s favorite foods: fish heads cooked in a clay pot, cold boiled pork with garlic puree, white chopped chicken, roasted cabbage and a small cup of wine. We didn’t want to leave anything at the table so we ate slowly. We ate for a whole hour until we had eaten our way through all give dishes.

After eating supper, we walked side-by-side on the stone sidewalk over to Shaoping to look around. The shadow we two cast gradually go longer and then shorter. From we could see its twisting turning like in the Indian move The Song of Laci. At a store I bought a small bag of peanuts, a bag of fruit drops, and a bag of sweetmeat and put it in younger brother’s sack so that he could bring it home to mother and grandmother. I asked him to take good care of them and tell them that I was doing well and not to let them worry about me.

About 10 PM, we returned to the hospital room. That evening, we two brothers slept on the same mattress. He was already very tired and so fell asleep almost immediately. But I couldn’t get to sleep. I studied his boyish face and felt a flood of worries in my heart. I opened the window overlooking the river. The Jialingjiang’s cool river breeze sobered me up and left me broken-heated.

I had no idea that this gray day would be the last time we two brothers would ever see each other. Our parting at the train station became the last time together until we were forever separated by death.

Chapter Four The Days of Being Struggled — Perversion of the Human Spirit

I worked at Jingkou with the army of laborers and so didn’t get back to school until just a few days before the end of the year. What disturbed me the most was how my classmates, even though we had been apart for over two months, never asked me about my illness. They saw in me some strangeness that was hard to describe. No longer the laughs and the friendly conversations. I was especially worried that I never saw Ma Kaixian. I asked Liu Yuhua when nobody else was around. She answered mysteriously, “You don’t know? You’ll find out eventually.” I felt a hard to express weight on my soul when students from the same dormitory had such a cold attitude towards me.

On the fifth day of the new year 1958, Chen Si and Guo Yinghua called me to a classroom. The handed me the “self criticism” that I had written the previous year. Chen Si in a serious tone of reprimand told me “Do you call that an honest confession? We gave you two whole months to write up but you wasted your chance. In your file you defending yourself but you are also hiding something. How could there be an rightist words or actions in what your wrote?” Guo Yinghua added angrily, “You have such a stubborn attitude that beginning tomorrow you will make a confession to the entire class.” I suddenly felt a pounding in my chest. How could students I had been in class with since middle school suddenly turn on me like that? They had become savages. I thought of how the previous year, during the purge of the Hu Feng counter-revolutionary clique, an upper class student had been put in isolation for reflection. A few days later public security came to detain him and put him in prison. As I thought about that I became very frightened.

On the first day of the criticism meeting they called me up to sit down. All the classmates had obviously held a preparatory meeting behind my back. I noticed that Ma Kaixian wasn’t there. Liu Dakui, a committee member of the Communist Youth League, was the main spokesperson in charge of making accusations against me. He was in the same classroom with me in sixth year of middle school.

We once together stole tomatoes planted in the school’s banana grove. Once we stole a small boat belonging to the school to cross the river and rowed across for a nighttime outing. During winter vacation we had fought wild dogs. In our dormitory we had secretly cooked some “improved meals”. We had even teased a girl in our class who was five years older than we were. We made phony accusations that she was having an affair with our teacher and even broadcast it as news to our entire school on the loudspeaker system.

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Zheng Yongnian:  China Returns to Building a State Ruled by Law

Zheng Yongnian:  China Returns to Building A State Ruled by Law

郑永年:  中国重返法治国家建设

August 21, 2014

At the highest levels of the Chinese government, no matter how many serious disagreements there are about just what form constitutional government might take, everyone realizes that for the sake of effective political governance, constitutional government is the only choice.

Now that the anti-corruption campaign has been underway for a long time, the Chinese Communist Party has announced that it will focus on a discussion of rule of law at the fourth session of the Eighteenth Party Congress that will be held in October 2014.   This is the first time that this issue has been discussed at a Party Congress.  This will certainly re-ignite the hopes of the many people who had once held great hopes for political reform in China but have been disappointed by the lack of any meaningful political reform up to the present.

Transforming China into a country ruled by law has been the ideal of generations of Chinese for over a century.  There have been many difficulties and twists in turns in the process of realizing this ideal.  The goal of creating a rule of law country was born after the dissolution of the Qing Dynasty.  With the dissolution of the old state, building a new state was a very difficult process.  Making China a rule of law country was not on the agenda then. For many years it was only an ideal.  In the modern era, the primary task of China’s elites has been to build a strong, independent and sovereign state free from incursions by foreign enemies.   China has passed through several principal stages from the dissolution of the Qing Dynasty, the confused battles among the warlords, the unification of China under the Republican government, invasion by foreign enemies (The War of Resistance Against Japan), the civil war between the Nationalist (KMT) Party and the Communist Party, and internal political struggles largely linked to the overriding importance of waging the class struggle.   During these stages, building a state under the rule of law was not the political goal of China’s elites.

After the policy of Reform and Opening began, building a state under the rule of law was finally put on the highest agenda of the ruling party.  In Deng Xiaoping’s time, building a legal system became the core of Chinese political reform.  On the ideological level, the sixteen character policy was put forward – that is, “There must be laws to go by, the laws must be observed and strictly enforced, and lawbreakers must be prosecuted.”  Deng Xiaoping and other leaders repeatedly emphasized the importance of building a legal system.   On the organizational level, the Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party was established then as the authoritative state organ for promoting the construction of the legal system.

In 1995, the Fifteenth Congress of the Chinese Communist Party formally established rule of law as an overall goal of China’s political reforms.   Although there is just one character difference between “legal system” and “rule by law”.  The change reflected a new stage in China’s development.  The “legal system” signifies establishing and implementing a comprehensive legal system.   “Rule of law”, however, signifies a way to resolve political issues.  That is, the law is no longer merely the tool of the rulers.  Every organization, including the ruling party, must obey the law.  Both the rulers and the ruled must obey the law.

Regrettably, when China entered the new century, building a rule of law country vanished from the reform agenda of the country’s leaders.  Although the leaders did sometimes mention the construction of rule of law, on the practical level they did just the opposite.  Rule of law not only didn’t make progress, in fact it retreated a great deal.  Specifically, the function of the Central Committee’s Political and Legal Affairs Commission quickly changed from promoting the construction of rule of law to becoming an organization that expands the scope of the state organs of force. This was manifested most clearly in the birth and extensive development of systems for maintaining stability.

Nobody denies the importance of social stability.  The issue is what is the foundation upon social stability is built.  If social stability mechanisms leave the track of rule of law and simply rely upon force, the result is creating even more social instability.  Moreover, both the overall concepts for maintaining stability as well as the ideas that guided its implementation went off the track of the rule of law.   Some departments even distorted the idea of the “mass line” and brought it into law enforcement where it became a kind of populism in the legal realm.  This resulted in a situation where the law was compelled to follow public opinion and in which the law could not be enforced when everyone is an offender.

Even more serious, the nature of the departments that utilize force (police, procuratorate, justice) changed.   The most important change was that they became very corrupt.  In the eyes of the people, the principal mission of those departments is to provide ensure safety and social justice in society.  But they became just the opposite.  It is not hard to understand why in the era of “social stabilization” that the relationships among the ruling party, the government, the people, and the state were severely damaged.   Although the goal of the ruling party was to build a harmonious society, Chinese society became less and less harmonious.  Today the Chinese people have very deep distrust in the government and its officials.  This is the result of the high pressure social stabilization policy.

Building Rule of law in China is Difficult

The Chinese people deeply detest the steady spread of corruption in government.  Therefore, since the opening of the Eighteenth Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, the highest level of the Communist Party has been carrying out an intensive anti-corruption campaign.  This anti-corruption campaign is unprecedented.  In just a short time, many officials at all levels have been investigated and punished.  Therefore, many people have said that they fear for China’s future, worrying about whether the anti-corruption campaign will make building rule of law in China even more difficult.  These people feel a great deal of uncertainty.

Actually, faced with the retreat of rule of law, Chinese society has responded in recent years by calling for constitutional government. People have linked constitutional government with the “China Dream”.

Therefore, the great significance of the current anti-corruption campaign is that it represents the ruling party turning back in the direction of building rule of law.   First of all, at the highest levels of China’s leadership,  no matter how much argument there has been amongst them about just what constitutional government should be, they understand that, for the purpose of establishing effective governance, constitutional government is the only choice.  People are against importing into China a carbon copy of western constitutional government.   However, they do believe that China must work hard to build its own model of constitutional government.   Although calls for constitutional government lead to big arguments, nobody denies that importance of rule of law.   In its essence, constitutional government is rule of law.

For society, rule of law can effectively protect the political, economic and social rights of members of society.  While rule of law protects people from violence and terror, there also is no need for protesters and government officials to confront one another by violent means.  Under the social stabilization mechanisms, the rights of the people are not protected and are often violated.  Citizens are forced to present their petitions for redress by unconventional means in response to government officials.  In many cases, this is expressed in violence.

However, building rule of law is difficult.  The ruling party has now once more put the rule of law on its highest agenda.  This is a political precondition for realizing a rule of law society.  During this process there will be very many problems of misunderstanding and political difficulties.  In China, the problem of understanding is manifested in at least three ways.   The first is traditional culture.   Traditional China never developed the spirit of rule of law.  China always stressed “ruling the country according to the law”.  That meant that the rulers use law to govern the country — that is the philosophy of the Legalist School of Chinese philosophy.  Down to this day, this concept is very deep-rooted and widespread.

Ever since the beginning of opening and reform, people have debated “which is more important, the Chinese Communist Party or the law? “  This concern is rooted in traditional thinking.  In fact, one cannot take the system of “party discipline and state laws to mean that Party cadres need only face the sanction of party discipline and are not subject to the punishment of the state’s laws.  In everyday life it doesn’t work that way.  Now the rule of law is being promoted and the Communist Party should also be ruled by the law.   This means that the rule of law needs to be brought into the governance of the Communist Party itself.  Whenever a Party cadre or official commits a crime, they should receive the punishment not just of party discipline but of the laws of the state as well.

The second obstacle to building the rule of law in China is the understanding that “law is a social tool”. That concept is the other side of the idea in traditional culture that “law is the tool of the rulers”.  The Chinese traditional view that “The law does not apply when everyone breaks the law” means that when there are many lawbreakers there is no need to think about the law.   This way of thinking is especially widespread in Asian countries where there is no rule of law tradition.  For example, the Taiwan students can ignore the law and occupy the Legislative Yuan and have behind-the-scenes support from several political parties.  Even Hong Kong which had an English colonial rule of law tradition has become widespread.  Some students and political forces are vigorously promoting the Occupy Central movement.  They hope to achieve their political goal by illegal means.  The China mainland is the same way.  In every social movement, rule of law is the most honest victim.  When it comes to lawyers, we see today how Chinese lawyers depart from the rule of law and appeal to public opinion.

In fact, from the actual meaning of rule of law, the law is not a tool for the ruler and is not a tool for society.   The law is an independent third party.  A judge is a referee and a relatively impartial one at that.   Justice is a platform that supports interactions between persons, between persons and organizations (including the government), and between organizations.   Taking that law simply as a tool of the ruler or a tool of society would both lead to abuse of the law.

Of course, people should not think of justice as simply being impartial.  Justice, no matter as a government agency or as the members of that agency, is all subject to influence by other factors.  They might be influenced by the government or they might be influenced by society.  Western countries are generally regarded as rule of law countries but much experience and research has shown that justice (an in particular the judges in the justice system) cannot avoid the influence of political forces.  So-called impartiality is only relative – it depends upon a professional spirit in the legal profession that demands that they adhere strictly to the standards of their profession above all else.

The third issue of understanding comes from with the question of just how China will establish its own system of rule of law.   For over a hundred years, China’s legal system has been deeply influenced by the West.  Since the beginning of reform and opening, it has been deeply influenced by the United States.  The West in the area of rule of law is ahead of China and so China must study it well.  However, this does not mean that China should import rule of law wholesale from the West.  China must avoid some of the pitfalls of the Western legal system.  For example, the United States often makes the rule of law become the rule of lawyers.  Just like other sectors, the Justice sector cannot ignore its own interests.  Law is the guarantee of social righteousness and fairness.  However one cannot simply assume that lawyers are the embodiment of social righteousness and fairness.  On the contrary, the Justice system can easily become a big interest group.   Lawyers themselves basically put their own personal interests above all else.

In the United States, lawyers have already become a very large interest group.  They are looking out for their own interests.  This results in big social problems.  For example, Americans like to sue one another.   They are also encouraged to sue and don’t like to come to an out-of-court settlement.  The formation of this attitude is linked to the very large number of lawyers in the United States.   While there is indeed the principle of supply and demand but in the American legal world the reality is just the opposite.  The great demand in the justice field in the United States was created by American lawyers acting as an interest group.   Bringing suit in court about anything has however brought the American legal system to the breaking point.  Its efficiency is declining and the social and economic costs are extremely high.

In building the rule of law there are political difficulties including who should do what and what should they do.  The focus of this argument is whether to retain the Political and Legal Affairs Commission.  Among intellectuals, many people have been angry with the Political and Legal Affairs Commission for a long while, as if the Political and Legal Affairs Commission were the biggest obstacle to building rule of law in China.  For some considerable period of time to come, this question will remain with us. People will debate it.  If we put aside the question of whether it should be retained, the most important question facing is how the functions of the Political and Legal Affairs Commission can be changed.  How can it be changed from recent years when it has been an agency for social stabilization to an agency that promotes building the rule of law?

In fact, ever since the Eighteenth Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, the Political and Legal Affairs Commission has been changing in that direction.  Its social stabilization functions it performed previously are become steadily less in evidence and are being replaced with the new concept of “social governance”.  Moreover, the Political and Legal Affairs Commission also made a breakthrough in pushing rule of law reform in a new direction, for example in the reform of the re-education through labor system.   In that field, the Political and Legal Affairs Commission still plays a major role.  As the functions of the Political and Legal Affairs Commission change, both society’s understanding of it and society’s views about it will also gradually change.

The rule of law does not simply descend from heaven.   It is the work of people who build rule of law.  The West spent over one hundred years building rule of law.   Over three decades have passed since China began its Reform and Opening policy.  During those years the road towards building rule of law had gone through many twists and turns.   Circumstances, however, are stronger than people.  Building the rule of law is a big trend because developments in the economy, society and politics are all favorable to building the rule of law.  Once the conditions are ripe — including the ruling party having a strong political will to see it through, members of society holding a scientific view of the concept of rule of law, and the existence of agencies building the rule of law — there will be solid grounds for believing that China too can build its own system of rule of law.







在大规模的反腐败运动持续了很长一段时间后,中共宣布即将在10月召开的十八届四中全会,将专门讨论依法治国问题。这在中共历次全会中尚属首次,给众多对中国政治改革抱有很高期待 、而至今仍缺失任何有意义的政治改革而感到失望的人们,无疑是希望再燃。

把中国建设成为一个法治国家,是近代以来一代代中国人的理想,但实现这个理想的过程非常困难和曲折。法治国家的目标产生于清王朝解体之后。旧国家解体了,但新国家的建立则是非常 困难的事,法治国家建设更是提不到议事日程,在很长的历史时间里一直只是一个理想而已。近代以来,中国精英的首要任务就是建立一个强大、免于外敌入侵、独立的主权国家。中国基本 上经历了清朝解体、军阀混战、国民政府统一、外敌入侵(抗日战争)、国共内战和1949年之后以阶级斗争为主题的内部政治斗争等几个主要阶段。在这些阶段,法治国家建设并无法成为精 英的政治目标。

改革开放之后,建设法治国家终于正式提到执政党的最高议程上来。在邓小平时代,法制建设是中国政治改革的核心。在思想层面,当时提出了十六字政策,即“有法可依,有法必依,执法 必严,违法必究。”邓小平等领导人反复重申法制建设的重要性。从组织层面,当时设立的中央政法委员会(即政法委),就是为了推进法制建设的权力机构。

到1995年,中共十五大便正式把“法治”确定为国家政治改革的总体目标。“法制”和“法治”,一字之差,表明中国在法治国家建设上的新阶段。“法制”意味着要确立并实施一整套法律 体系,而“法治”则要解决政治问题,即法律不再仅仅是统治者的工具,任何组织包括执政党也必须服从法律——统治者和被统治者都要服从法律。

可惜的是,在进入新世纪之后,法治国家的建设在领导层的改革议程中消失了。尽管高层也不时提到要进行法治建设,但在实际层面,很多作为是相反的,法治不仅没有进步,反而出现了大 倒退。具体地说,中央政法委的功能从推进法治建设,很快就演变成为一个擅长于张扬国家机器暴力面的组织,主要体现在维稳机制的产生和大发展上。

没有人会否认社会稳定的重要性,问题在于社会稳定是建立在什么基础之上。维稳机制脱离了法治的轨道,走上了过度依赖暴力,结果造成了社会的更不稳定。同时,在指导思想和执政思路 上,这段时期也偏离了法治轨道。一些部门曲解“群众路线”,把此引入执法,演变成法律领域的民粹主义,导致了法律必须服从民意、法不责众的情况。

更为严峻的是,暴力部门(公、检、法)本身的性质发生了变化,尤其是变得极其腐败。在人民的眼中,这个部门的本来意义在于提供基本社会安全保障和社会正义,但现在是恰恰相反。不 难理解,在维稳的年代里,执政党和人民、政府和老百姓、国家与社会之间的关系遭到了何等巨大的破坏。尽管执政党的目标是建设和谐社会,但中国社会变得越来越不和谐了。今天人民对 政府及其官员的极端不信任,是和高强度的维稳有关的。


政府腐败蔓延开来,人们恨之入骨,因此中共十八大之后,中共高层进行了疾风骤雨式的反腐败运动。这个反腐败运动是前所未有的,在短短的时间里,大量的各级官员被查处。因此,也有 很多人出来对中国的未来表达出担忧,对反腐败运动会不会继续破坏中国的法治建设,感到很大的不确定性。


从这个意义上说,今天执政党再次转向法治建设,于国家、于社会都会是一种互赢的局面。对执政党来说,其意义是多层面的。首先,在最高的层次,不管人们对宪政抱有多大的争议,要确 立有效的政治治理,宪政是唯一的选择。人们反对中国照搬西方的宪政,但必须努力寻求建设中国本身的宪政。对宪政的呼吁尽管导致了大争论,但并没有人否认法治的重要性。从宪政的最 基本面来说,宪政即法治。

其二,在社会治理层面,前些年的维稳机制已经导致了“越维稳、越不稳定”的局面,要实现对社会的有效治理,必须重新返回到1980年代开始的法制和法治建设。在任何现代社会,法律是 社会治理的制度基础。其三,在强化执政党的合法性方面,法治无疑为人们指出了国家政治发展的大方向,并且能够从理论上说清楚执政党的性质,这必然会成为执政党执政合法性的巨大资 源。

于社会来说,法治能够为社会成员的政治、经济和社会权利提供有效的保护,在免于暴力恐惧的同时,无需诉诸于同样暴力的手段来和政府官员互动。在维稳机制下,老百姓各方面的权利得 不到保障,经常受到侵犯,老百姓也不得不诉诸于其他非正常的手段来应付政府官员,在很多情况下往往体现为暴力。

不过,建设法治并不是件容易的事情。执政党再次把此提升到最高的议程,仅仅是实现法治社会的一个政治前提。在这个过程中,仍然会面临无穷的认知和政治上的困难。在中国,认知的困 难至少表现在三个方面。一是来自传统文化。传统中国并没有发展出法治精神,所强调的是“依法治国”,即统治者使用法律来统治国家,是传统法家的思想。这个理念到今天仍然根深蒂固 ,非常流行。

改革开放以来,人们一直在争论“党大还是法大”的问题,就是对这一传统思维定式的担忧。实际上,不能把“党纪国法”理解成为党的干部只接受党纪的处置,而不受国法的惩罚。在现实 生活中也不是如此。今天提倡法治,也要以法治党,也就是要把法治引入对执政党本身的治理。党的干部官员一旦犯罪,不仅要接受党纪的惩罚,也要接受国法的惩罚。

第二种妨碍中国法治建设的认知是“法是社会的工具”。这种观点是传统文化中“法是统治者的工具”的对立面。中国传统有“法不责众”的说法——只要涉及的人多了,就无须考虑到法律 。这种观念在没有法治传统的亚洲尤其流行。例如,台湾学生可以无视法律来占领立法院,而一些政党则在背后支持。即使具有英国殖民地法治传统的香港,这种观念也在流行开来,一些学 者和政治力量在大力提倡“占领中环”运动,希望通过非法治的方式来实现政治目标。中国大陆更是如此,在每一次较大的社会运动中,法治往往是最廉洁的牺牲品。即使是律师群体,今天 也经常偏离法治而诉诸于民众。

实际上,从法治原来的意义上说,法律既不是统治者的工具,也不是社会的工具。法律是相对独立的第三方,法官就是裁判,是相对中立的裁判。作为第三者,司法是人与人之间、人与组织 (包括政府)之间、组织与组织之间互动的平台,简单地把法律视为无论是统治者还是社会的工具,都会导致法律的滥用。

当然,人们也不能简单地假设司法就是中立。司法,无论作为一种机构还是在这个机构工作的成员,都会受到其他因素的影响,既可以受到政府的影响,也可以受到社会力量的影响。西方一 般被视为是法治国家,但很多经验研究表明,司法(尤其是司法的主体法官)往往不可避免地要受政治力量的影响。所谓的中立只是在相对意义上的,就是要求司法界从业人员严格遵守专业 精神(professionalism),专业精神高于一切。

第三种认知发生在中国如何确立自己的法治体系这一层面。近代以来,中国的法律体系深受西方的影响。改革开放之后,受美国的影响更为深刻。西方在建设法治国家方面领先于中国,中国 须要好好学习。不过,这并不是说中国要照搬照抄西方,中国也必须避免西方法治体系的一些劣势。例如,美国的“以法治国”(rule of law)经常演变成为“律师治国”(rule of  lawyers)。如同其他领域,司法界本身也并非能够超越自己的利益。法律是社会正义和公正的保障,但不能简单地假定律师就是社会正义和公正的化身。相反,司法体制本身很容易演变成为 一个庞大的既得利益集团,律师也是基于自私利益之上的。

在美国,律师已经成为一个庞大的既得利益集团,追求自身的利益,这导致了巨大的社会问题。例如,美国人喜欢打官司,也被鼓励打官司,而不喜欢庭外和解。这种心态的形成和美国拥有 庞大的律师群体有关。照理说是需求创造供应,但在美国的司法界可能相反。大量的司法需求是美国律师作为一个既得利益集团创造出来的。什么事情都要诉诸于司法,反而促成美国的司法 体系不堪重负,不仅效率低下,而且社会经济成本无限高昂。


法治建设也面临实际政治的困难,包括谁来做、怎么做。这里争论的焦点在政法委的存留问题。在知识界,人们对政法委一直有诸多的抱怨,似乎政法委就是阻碍中国法治建设的最大阻碍。 在今后一段时间里,这个问题会长期存留下去,人们对此也会展开争论。如果避开其存留问题不谈,在目前的阶段重要的还是政法委的功能转变问题,就是要从前些年的维稳机制转变为促进 法治建设的机制。

实际上,十八大以来,政法委也在作这方面的转型。往日的维稳功能在不断淡化,被新的概念“社会治理”所取代。同时,政法委也在突出其法治改革的新方向,例如对劳教制度的改革。在 这方面,这个机构仍可大有作为。随着政法委功能的转变,社会对其的认知和看法也会逐渐得到改变。

法治不会从天上掉下来,都是人为建设的结果。西方花了一百多年的时间建立了法治。中国改革开放已经三十多年,法治建设也走过了相当曲折的道路。不过,形势比人强,法治建设是一个 大趋势,因为经济、社会和政治等方方面面的发展都在呼吁法治建设。一旦条件具备,包括执政党所具有的坚强的政治意志、社会成员科学的法治观念、法治建设机构的存在等等,就有充分 的理由相信,中国也能建设成自己的法治体系。

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