In their world, our rights do not exist

By He Qinglian on September 28, 2012.

The date for the commencement of the 18th National Party Congress has finally been set, and while the case of Bo Xilai did not end in the way Zhongnanhai would have liked, it is over. Regarding the distribution of power, there are all sorts of rumors flying around. Those rumors include a change in the number of Politburo Standing Committee members, the names of those have been promoted to that position, and those who have been striped of a certain post. Some commentators cheered when they heard that so-and-so have been promoted; and they felt sad to learn that so-and-so have not been promoted.

At first glance, these reactions were somewhat funny: the CPC ruling clique is just determining the pecking order among themselves, what has that to do with the commentators? And then it is sad because it is understandable that the Chinese people are so interested in these. As a people, the Chinese have no rights to take part in politics. While those living abroad could guess who would take what position, people inside China aren't allowed to do so. And as the Chinese government has made bottom-up revolution almost completely impossible, those who have such wishes would sooner or later be charged with “subversion of state power”, locked up and subjected to the punishment of proletariat dictatorship, which targets enemies of the state could sometimes be inhuman. Hence, without any other things they could do, people inside China could only pin their hopes on a top-down reform.

Every time when they learn a country has embarked on the road to democracy—be it Bhutan, which democratization process was started under the guidance of the fifth Dragon Kong, His Highness Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk, or Burma, which beginning of the democratization process is won through long hard struggle—the Chinese people would feel somewhat more hopeful that the same would happen in China. With this hope, they never get tired of searching for words that those in the highest levels said that would mean reform.

I remember when foreign media asked my opinion on Zhu Rongji, I said:

China is no longer in the age of strongman. When the country's politics began the processes of “privatizing public power”, of legitimizing violence, and of the government turning into a group of gangsters; when a country is hijacked by interest groups, the will of individual leaders would become unable to contest with the institutionalized power. And there is inertia in that power to repel any voices or figures that are not conducive to the ruling clique. This is why although Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao are not, with respect to their personality, cruel dictators, within the decade under their rule, the Chinese government has turned swiftly and completely into what could be called as the underworld.

Under these circumstances then, whether it is the officials with an ordinary background, or the Princelings or the Red Second Generation that take the reins of the government, the citizens could in no way expect that fundamental changes would take place in China. In the past few years, those officials with an ordinary background were revealed to be so corrupt that accepting over 100 million in bribery and having dozens of mistresses have become commonplace. The factor that keeps this distribution of interest from collapse is precisely the one-party dictatorship of the CPC that monopolizes everything. Hence, the political circle in China has reached a consensus with respect to maintaining the current political institution as it is.

What set the two groups of officials apart are two things. First, the Princelings and the Red Second Generation grew up with a sense of preparing themselves for taking over; in addition, they feel a kinship with the regime and are more concerned with its future. “We must not let the right to rule be destroyed by those incompetent and corrupt officials”, they would think. By contrast, the corrupt officials that came from an ordinary background think more about exploiting the regime for their personal gain; they feel no kinship with the government and many have long become “naked officials”, who are ready to go away and leave every trouble behind.

Second, those officials with a Red Second Generation background are familiar with politics at the highest levels. They tend to do “strategic thinking” and are capable of forming think tanks. These officials are not as short-sighted as those of the other group and do not see satisfying their personal desires as the top priority. By comparison, the Red Second Generation are somewhat equipped with a stronger “strategic vision”.

This “strategic vision”, however, is definitely not paving the way for China to move toward democracy. I recently did some searches in dated articles as I was gathering information for my commentaries, and I found two articles by Pan Yue, a Red Second Generation who is seen as a “star of the reformists”. In the first article dated 1991, Pan discussed the choices China has in response to the great change of the [former] Soviet Union; and in the other article written around 2005 and 2006, which was said to have cast shadow on Pan’s carrier, he made some reflections on how a revolution party should transform into a ruling one, on democratic politics and universal values.

Make no misinterpretation that this second article had caused bad luck to befall Pan, for that article was in fact written with an aim to help consolidate the ruling status of the CPC. In it Pan compared the fromer Soviet Union with China, citing a large number of problems that the CPC face, expressing the wish that the Party transform itself into a ruling party. To prevent senior members of the CPC misunderstand his article, Pan wrote specifically at the end of it that:—

No matter how the CPC changes or carries out reform, there are five principles that must be firmly upheld. First, only democracy within the CPC is allowed, the multi-party system shall in no way be practiced in China; second, the country’s rule by law must be implemented under the leadership of the CPC, the separation of powers of the West shall in no way be practiced in China; third, the check and monitoring of news and the public opinion are to be strengthened, the freedom of the press shall in no way be practiced in China; fourth, the modernization of the PLA must only be carried out under the leadership of the CPC, the nationalization of the army shall in no way be practiced in China; and fifth, the country’s to stick to the bettering the People's Congress system, plebiscites and universal suffrage shall in no way be practiced in China.
Put these five “shall in no ways” side by side with Wu Bangguo’s “five nos” (no multiparty elections, no diversity in guiding thought, no separation of powers, no federal system and no privatization), one could say that Wu’s ideas were taken from Pan’s five principles. I have always been guessing that what truly affected Pan’s political career was his vehement advocacy of the green GDP, which was tantamount to negating the Chinese development model and put all levels of the CPC governments in an uneasy position.

The point I want to make in bringing these up is that, in today’s Red China, even though the word “people’s” is included in the country’s name, its government, various judicial organizations and others, nothing is truly about the “people”. Those in the Red families, be they second or third generation, draw a clear line separating us and them. Those Red descendants with an open mind go only so far as to suggesting that the people be treated with benevolence so that they would not want to overthrow the government. The notion of giving power back to the people has definitely not occurred to any of them.

And it is not just the Red descendants that are drawing a clear line separating them and us. The intellectual elites who are serving them, too, make such a clear distinction. As I pointed out years ago that some intellectual elites proposed a “price theory”, which is developed based on a world of their own, a world that only three groups of people—the government officials, the entrepreneurs and themselves, intellectuals who serve the other two groups—exist. All other social classes are excluded from their world.

Once the difference between their thoughts and ours is understood, people would probably stop feeling optimistic because so-and-so has secured a place in the NPC Standing Committee. We, the excluded, are aware that there was a conclusion on what triggered the downfall of the CPSU:—

It was not caused by the so called peaceful evolution, but its three monopolies on the truth and ideology, on power, politics and law, and privileges. Those monopolies made the CPSU deem that whatever it thought or said was correct, that its power was supreme, and that it was entitled to every enjoyment
The person who said the above remarks is not any of leaders of the CPSU before the Party’s collapse, but Gennady Zyuganov, chairman of the UCP-CPSU, a political party in today’s Russia.

It is only when rulers from them could say something similar and are willing to break these three monopolies that they would acknowledge our rights and that we are supposed to be on an equal footing with them regarding rights in the very beginning.