Posts tagged ‘democracy’

Friday, December 6, 2013

Nelson Mandela, 1918 – 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013

Why America needs to act on Syria

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Related

» Grand old Duke, Max Hastings / Daily Mail, Aug 29, 2013

Friday, August 16, 2013

Song Luzheng on Democracy: “Idle Masses indulging in a Life of Pleasure and Comfort”

Song Luzheng (宋鲁郑) is a journalist and (semi-)official living in France. The following are excerpts from an article published by Guanchazhe, a Shanghai-based website, on Thursday, and republished by the nationalist Huanqiu Shibao (online), also on Thursday. The article also appears on his regular blog.

Quotes made by Song Luzheng within the excerpts and translations underneath are my translations from Chinese to English. The wordings of the actual English-language originals (including book titles) by Niall Ferguson and Thomas Friedman may be different.

Main Link: The Tragedy of the Egyptian Raids confirm, once again, the Predicament of Democracy (埃及清场悲剧再次验证民主困境)

The bloody way in which the Egyptian military cracked down on the Morsi supporters has shocked the world. One after another, European countries condemned the “big terrorist massacre”, but Kerry, the secretary of state in charge of America’s diplomacy, of the world’s most developed democracy, with a surprising smile on his face on a press conference, didn’t condemn the military massacre in the least, and only uttered  that this was “deplorable”, that “violence was no solution and only brought about more instability and economic disaster” (but who used violence? The protesters?). Also, the only “sanction” the Obama administration imposes is “the military exercises with Egypt may be cancelled”. This is completely different from condemning the situation in Syria and taking action. Apparently, public intellectuals under American influence, abroad and at home, are in a hurry to stand on the side of the military which massacres peaceful Egyptian citizens.

埃及军方如此残酷的血腥镇压穆尔西的支持者, 举世震惊。欧洲各国纷纷表态谴责这起“恐怖大屠杀”,而世界上最发达的民主国家美国,其主管外交的国务卿克里竟然笑容满面地出席记者会,对埃及军方主导的 大屠杀毫无谴责,仅仅说了一句“悲惨的”,并不痛不痒地说“暴力不是解决方案,通向暴力的道路只能带来更大的不稳定、经济灾难”(但谁在使用暴力?抗议者 吗?)。与此同时,奥巴马政府的官员提出的唯一“制裁”措施竟然是:“可能取消与埃及的军事演习”。这和美国谴责叙利亚的态度和采取的行动完全不同。看 来,受美国影响,海内外的不少公知们很快也要站在屠杀埃及平民的军方一边了。

Most of today’s developed countries, with the exception of Britain, went through times of destruction, writes Song, and adds:

In fact, China went through a similar experience, only at a higher cost. This was the Republic of China, founded in 1912. Simply-put, the Republic of China didn’t bring China independence, nor did it bring China unity, let alone an era of strength, prosperity and dignity. In its short 37 years, the economy went into bancruptcy, there was warlordism, large-scale civil war, invasions by foreign enemies, territorial disintegration, corruption from the top to the bottom etc., and until it [the ROC] withdraw from the stage of history, China had almost reached the status of a savage nation. Life expectancy was at 35 years, illiteracy up to 80 percent. The only time in several thousands of years that China fell behind India was at that time. Not even the Cultural Revolution managed to do that. China at the end of the Qing dynasty faced three challenges: extreme poverty and weakness and encirclement by big powers, national disintegration, and military split by warlordism, and the Republic of China not only failed to provide solutions, but worsened even further. If one says that the Qing dynasty was a big collapsing building, the Republic of China not only failed to work on the Qing dynasty’s foundations, but even lost that foundation. It was at that time that Outer Mongolia was lost without a war, as the first territory in China’s history.

其实中国自己也曾有过类似的经历,只是代价更为不菲。这就是 1912年建立的中华民国。简言之中华民国是一个既没有带给中国独立、也没有带来统一,更没有带来富强与尊严的时代。在其短短的三十七年间,经济陷入破 产,军阀混战,大规模的内战,外敌入侵,国土分裂,从上到下的完全腐败,等到它退出历史舞台的时候,中国已几乎到了“蛮荒亡国”的地步:人均寿命不足35 岁,文盲高达80%。中国几千年唯一一次落后于印度就在此时,甚至文革都未能做到一点。清末中国面临的三大挑战:极端的贫困和积弱不振、列强环伺的生存危 机、国家的分裂和军队的军阀化,中华民国不但一个都没有解决,反而更加恶化。如果说清朝是倒塌的大厦,中华民国则不但连清理地基的工作都未能做到,而且把 地基都丢掉了。外蒙古也就是这个时期,成为中国历史上首个不是因为战败而丧失的领土。

Although a high price for democratic transition was a historical law [anyway], there were still more special factors at work in Egypt, according to Song: it was particularly poor, it was under the impact of the global economic crisis and of revolution at home, an unemployment rate of 31 percent (only nine percent before the revolution), and adding to that, illiteracy was at 27 percent, with female illiteracy at 69 percent.  A well-performing democracy needed an economic base and universal education. Lacking secularism in the Islamic world is also cited as a factor.

Also, some Muslim societies have long lacked a spirit of compromise and tolerance. This national character displays itself in a firm position and no concessions. This led to a situation where, when a ruler [Muarak] made concessions, prepared to move toward democracy, the country missed out on this top-down transition model which would have come at rather low costs, and even after a democratic success, and used extreme methods to solve conflicts. This happened both in Tunisia and in Egypt. When Muarak announced that he wouldn’t stay in office for another term and that his sons wouldn’t participate in elections, and that after his current term, there would be comprehensive, free and fair elections, the masses rejected this. As a result, power was transferred to the military, thus extending the transition period.  And after one year of rule by Morsi, the first president elected by the people was pushed off the stage by another street revolution, causing nation-wide confrontation and resulting in an unprecedented bloody tragedy. This kind of lack of compromise has already strangled Egypt’s democracy in its cradle. History shows again and again that what is born in a pool of blood is only violent, not democratic.

再者,有些穆斯林社会长期缺乏妥协和宽容精神,这种国民性在革命时可以表现 为立场坚决,绝不退步。却也造成当执政者做出让步,准备走向民主时,国家错过从上而下的、代价较低的转型模式,甚至在民主成功之后,采用极端手段来解决冲 突。这一幕在突尼斯和埃及都反复上演。当穆巴拉克宣布不再连任、自己的儿子也不参选、任期届满之后即进行全面、自由、公正的选举时,却被民众拒绝了。结果 权力被交给军方,大大延长了过渡期。随后又在穆尔西执政一年后,再次以街头革命的方式,将首位民选总统赶下台,造成全国性的对抗,终至演变成空前的血腥悲 剧。实际上,这种不妥协,已经把埃及的民主扼杀在摇篮中。历史已经一而再地证明,在血泊中诞生的只有暴力,而不是民主。

Revolutions like these were most likely to happen in demographically young countries, Song continues. Japanese media had pointed out that therefore, a revolution was unlikely to happen in a country like China, which was older on average, and with only one child per family.

The West itself was equally in trouble, writes Song, enumerating the share of respective national debt as a share of GDP. All of those shares were above the internationally accepted warning line of 60 percent.

The trouble was that democratic systems were based on the expectation that the people were perfect, and wouldn’t allow abuse. Unreasonable public expectations made politicians accept even unreasonable demands:

By using the ballot box in this Western system, people can force politicians to accept unreasonable and even perfectly unreasonable demands. Today’s Western debts come from deficit spending [今天西方国家普遍出现的债台高筑寅吃卯粮], high levels of welfare are hard to sustain and impossible to reform, the masses idly indulge in a life of pleasure and comfort, and falling competitiveness and falling economic growth have their sources here.

西方危机的深层根源就在于它实行的一人一票的民主制度。当今民主制度有一个理论假想:政府是应有 之恶,要进行限权,但对人民却又认为是道德完美、能够做到绝对正确。事实上,人民的全体和个体的人民一样,都有先天性的人性缺憾,比如好逸恶劳贪得无厌、 目光短浅急功近利等等。而任何权力包括民权没有限制都会被滥用。于是在西方这种制度模式下,民众可以通过选票迫使政治人物接受并非理性、甚至完全不合理的 诉求。今天西方国家普遍出现的债台高筑寅吃卯粮、高福利难以为继却无法改革、民众日益懒惰贪图享乐、竞争力下降经济增长乏力的根源就在于此。

When it is said that traditionally socialist countries with absolute public ownership of means of production (and economic equality) has proven a failed utopia, the failure of Western democratic societies as another big Utopia with absolute equality (one man, one vote) is now also being proven.

如果说过去传统社会主义国家生产资料的绝对公有制(即经济上均贫富)是人类已经证明失败的乌托邦,那么西方民主社会另一大乌托邦即政治权力的绝对平等(一人一票)的失败也正在被历史所验证。

Song mentions the role of Wall Street’s five largest investment banks in the 2008 U.S. elections:

While collusion between officialdom and business in China still requires secrecy, it happens in broad daylight in the West.

由于西方的民主制度法必须通过选举,而选举成本堪称天文数字,这又给了资本介入的契机。我们知道2008年华尔街五大投行全军覆灭,但高盛集团的政治献金仍然高达数亿美元(如果说中国官商勾结还需要遮遮掩掩,在西方则是光天化日)。

Apparently based on the bestseller “This Town”, Song details his statement about democracy.

This book’s grim conclusion is this: transactions between power and money has become a thorough procedure. America has become exactly the way of the Roman empire in its late stage, before its collapse: Systematic political corruption, evil action as the usual practice, and legal offense in vogue.

这本书得出的冷酷结论是:权钱交易已经彻底地程序化。美国正如罗马帝国崩溃前的末期:制度化的政治腐败,作恶成了惯例,违法成了时髦。

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In the face of the crisis of Western democracy, more and more scholars are waking up. Niall Ferguson, one of the West’s most renowned and influential historians, called “one of the world’s 100 most influential people” by “Time”, wrote -  after writing “Money and Power” and “Civilizaton” – about “The Western Civilization’s four Black Boxes”. In this book he argues that questions about the decline of the West lies in the degeneration of the institutions. Representational government, free markets, the rule of law, and civil society were once western Europe’s and North America’s four pillars, but are now in decay. The root lies in the irresponsibility to which the voting people have turned, living at the costs of future generations.

面对西方民主的危机,越来越多的学者开始醒悟。当代西方声誉最高、影 响力最大的历史学者,被《时代》周刊称为“影响世界的100人”之一的尼尔·弗格森,在《金钱与权力》、《文明》后,又推出一本新作:《西方文明的4个黑 盒子》,在这本书中,他认为西方衰落的答案就在西方的建制正在退化。代议政体、自由市场、法治、公民社会,曾是西欧、北美社会的四大支柱,但在今天这些建 制已败坏变质。根源则在于作为选民的人民变得不负责任,使一代选民得以在牺牲未来数代人利益下过日子。

This is also why the “New York Times’” columnist Thomas Friedman, in his new book “[The World is] Hot, Flat, and Crowded”, goes as far as titling one chapter “If America could be China for one Day”. He gives an example: “If need be, China’s leaders can change the regulatory system, the standards, infrastructure to safeguard the country’s long-term strategic benefit. If such issues get discussed and implemented in Western countries, I’m afraid it takes years or even decades.” [...]

这也是为什么《纽约时报》专栏作家托马斯·费里德曼新书《世界又热又平又挤》有一章的标题竟然是这样的: 假如美国能做一天中国。他举例道:“如果需要的话,中国领导人可以改变规章制度、标准、基础设施,以维护国家长期战略发展的利益。这些议题若换在西方国家 讨论和执行,恐怕要花几年甚至几十年的时间。” [.....]

This is where Song Luzheng gets back to Egypt, as a painfull lesson for Egypt itself, but a fortune for China (埃及的惨痛教训,对于中国实是极为宝贵的财富).

There are the three major human civilizations: Christian civilization, Islamic civilization, and Confucian cvilization. Only the Western democratic system can keep pace with China’s political civilization. But this kind of Western system has developed to today’s dysfunctionality, increasingly unable to adapt to the challenges of globalization. Apparently, Chinese civilization cannot be refused to play an important role among the world’s civilizations!

目前人类三大主要文明:基督教文明、伊斯兰教文明和儒家文明,真正能和中国政治文明并驾齐驱的只有西方的民主制度。但西方这种制度发展到今天已弊病丛生,日益无法适应全球化的挑战。看来,中华文明将不得不再一次在世界文明中扮演极为重要角色!

We can say that the decline of Western democracy and China’s institutional civilization full of vitality are humankind’s greatest and most influential change. In the old days, China’s  huge contributions to humankind weren’t only reflected in economics, but more importantly in its institutional civilization. These days, as China is becoming strong and prosperous again, it will also, once again, carve out another height of institutional civilization for humankind.

我们可以说,西方民主的衰落与中国制度文明充满生命力的崛起将是二十一世纪人类最伟大、影响最为深远的变革。昔日中国对人类的巨大贡献并不仅仅表现在经济的富庶,更重要的是制度文明。今天的中国,在重新走向富强的同时,也将再一次为人类开拓出更高的制度文明。

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Related

» Those Southern Newspaper’s Commentators, Jan 28, 2013
» Refuting Western Rhetoric, china.org.cn, Nov 18, 2012
» JR turns to Science, Dec 17, 2011
» Make America collapse, Feb 14, 2010

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

“A Knot in our Hearts”

An anonymous Tibetan CCP cadre plans to publish a book about his country. According to Der Spiegel, he has served the Chinese government since his youth, but has now decided to write a recent history of Tibet. He reportedly quotes witnesses, but also seems to be describing his personal initial enthusiasm, and his growing disillusionment over the years.

His point of view as described by Der Spiegel does not come across as “secessionist”, although the article doesn’t seem to allow conclusions as to how the official sees Tibet’s future in this regard – and I would be curious about the book itself.

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Related

Quote: “Serf Emancipaton Day”, March 28, 2009

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Monday, July 1, 2013

Journalism under Attack

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Glenn Greenwald talking to the Socialism Conference in Chicago on June 29.

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Transcript there.

From the introduction (not part of Greenwald’s talk):

There are people in our society who have remained consistent under Democrats and Republicans, who put principle over partisanship, who have committed to being the same people that they are, whether a Democrat is in office, or a Republican is in office.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Obituary: Chen Xitong, 1930 – 2013

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Chen Xitong

Former Beijing mayor Chen Xitong (陈希同) died on Sunday. HK China News Agency (HKCNA, a branch of mainland Chinese China News Service) broke the news on Tuesday, reportedly in a rather scant bulletin.

Chen was born in Sichuan Province, in 1930, and died aged 82, 83, or 84, depending on how you count the years. He was seen as a staunch supporter of the Tian’anmen massacre of June 4, 1989. In 1992, he became a member of the central committee’s politburo, and party secretary in Beijing. In turn, he ended his mayorship after some ten years in office.

His career ended in 1995, when he faced corruption charges. In 1998, he was sentenced to sixteen years in jail, but was released on medical parole in 2006.

According to sources beyond HKCNA – quoted by the Voice of America -, Chen Xitong’s relatives released a bulletin of their own, too. Chen Xitong’s son, Chen Xiaotong (陈小同),  thanked those who had helped the family during the illness of his father. Chen Xitong reportedly died from cancer.

Yao Jianfu (姚监复), a former researcher at the state council’s rural development research center, met Chen Xitong several times after Chen’s release in 2006. In June 2012, he had his accounts of their discussions, Conversations with Chen Xitong, published in Hong Kong.

Chen is said to have contested the notion that his role in the Tian’anmen massacre had been crucial. Deng Xiaoping had had his own sources to make his decision (i. e. didn’t depend on information from the Beijing mayor).

In June 2012, on the occasion of the publication of the Conversations, the Washington Post quoted Chen Xitong as having referred to the 1989 demonstrations as an American-backed conspiracy orchestrated by a “tiny handful of people”  at the time of the movement, 24 years ago. Chen, in his rather recent conversations with Yao Jianfu, is also quoted as comparing his political fate (concerning the corruption charges in 1995) to that of Bo Xilai.

Some allegations against Chen Xitong, regarding his role in 1989, are based on the alleged diary by then chief state councillor Li Peng. But some allegations appear likely, such as Chen having been in charge of the headquarters that oversaw the crackdown. Either way, he certainly played his role well enough to get promoted to the politburo.

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Candellight Vigil in Hong Kong

Tens of thousands of Hong Kongers attended a candellight vigil in Victoria Park on Tuesday night. William Chan, a Youtube user, wrote:

Hong Kong made me proud today. A big crowd braved heavy rain to attend. This was the moment when we all put down our umbrellas to raise our candles. The chants at the end are “Vindicate June 4th!” and “Never give up!”

The erhu music performed is called 江河水 [River Water].

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Related

» Ma Ying-jeou’s June-4 remarks, Taiwan Today, June 5, 2013

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Monday, June 3, 2013

June 4, 1989: the Unsinkable Boat of Stone

Tiananmen Square has a meaning to China – not just Beijing – as deep as the Place de la Bastille‘s for Paris, or that of the Alexanderplatz for Berlin. On 400,000 square meters, Tiananmen Square – according to relevant tourist information – provides space for one million people. That’s how the square has been used – for gatherings ordered by the Chinese Communist Party, when Mao Zedong proclaimed the People’s Republic, for Hua Guofeng‘s eulogy on Mao Zedong in 1976, and for military parades celebrating the People’s Republic’s 35th, 50th, and 60th birthday.

In 1997, on Tiananmen Square, a limited number of people celebrated the return of Hong Kong. The limitation had conjecturable reasons – eight years and four weeks earlier, Chinese army and police troops had quashed a student movement – that movement, too, had its public center in Tiananmen Square.

Ever since 1911, Tiananmen Square had been a place for gatherings outside the scripts of the powers that be. The first, probably, was the May-Fourth movement, sparked by the transfer of formerly German possessions in Shandong Province to Japan, rather than to China, in 1919, after World War One. Chinese intellectuals had begun to perceive their country not just as a civilization, but as a nation, interacting with other nations and falling behind internationally. In 1919, there were no celebrations. There were protests.

The May-Fourth movement has since been canonized. CCP historians see the movement as the beginning of progressive processes during the first half of the 20th century, leading to the CCP’s rise to power. But even Hua Guofeng’s eulogy on Mao, in September 1976, had been preceded by expressions of grief months earlier, in April, for the late chief state councillor Zhou Enlai. The more radical followers of Mao Zedong considered that an affront.

Personal impressions from the 1976 “Tian An Men incident” apparently made Wu Renhua, later a dissident, honor Hu Yaobang with a wreath on Tiananmen Square, in April 1989. Hu Yaobang had just passed away, and some points seem to be noteworthy:

When Hu died, he had been removed as the CCP secretary general for more than two years. Apparently, the party leadership had considered him to be too reform-minded. Expressions of grief from the population might be considered an affront by the party leaders, too, and they probably did, even if it took more than six weeks for the party to put an end to the movement of intellectuals and students in  which Wu Renhua had been taking part.

By then, the movement had long gone beyond their original motivation of honoring Hu Yaobang. Through anti-corruption protest, it had turned into a movement for democracy.

Also, Wu Renhua, then an about thirty-three years old lecturer from the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, was part of the movement, but – according to his own account – rather going along with it, than driving it. His actual confrontational attitude towards the CCP  only built after the massacre – an outrage that he had never seemed to expect from his country’s leaders.

And even if the University of Political Science and Law played an important role in the 1989 movement, the Beijing University, the Beida, had the traditional, leading role.

Rivalries among the 1989 dissidents are nothing unusual today. Frequently, they are personal rather than political, accompanied by allegations that X is self-important, that Y is a CCP collaborator, or that Z is remote-controlled by Falun Gong – somehow unpredictable or dangerous.

June 4 has become an unsolved complex in Chinese history. Whoever studied in a major Chinese city in 1989 will know that complex. “Sure”, a Shanghainese told me in the early 1990s, “we were all protesting.” To her, however, the matter was closed with the end of the movement – ostensibly, anyway. Many Chinese people born after 1989 hardly know about the existence of the movement, and among those who do remember it, at least some consider the crackdown a rather lucky outcome: be it because they don’t think that the students were able to handle politics in 1989, be it because they see a foreign conspiracy against China’s stability and China’s rise behind the former movement.

By 2008, a trend had changed. Many Chinese people who used to feel respect for (Western) democracies had changed their mind. Frequently negative coverage by Western media on the Beijing Olympics certainly played a role here – the negative foreign echo was spread selectively, but broadly by Chinese media. Some overseas Chinese in Germany even organized a silent protest against the biased German media who had failed to spread their patriotic message and who had therefore muzzled them. Add how the mighty had fallen in the financial crisis – China’s period of growth still continued, thanks to state stimulus programs that tried to compensate for falling imports by Western economies. Criticism from abroad – that’s how the Chinese public was informed (frequently correctly) – was an expression of foreign envy. The ideas so vigorously discussed in 1989 have given way to the truculent nationalism of new generations, Isabel Hilton noted in 2009.

In 1990, Yang Lian (楊煉), a Chinese poet in exile, published this:

The darker the sky, you say that the boat is old,
the storms it bore are long gone,
it is for us to erase the Self, let the boat of stone rot away.1)

That, of course, is the last thing a boat of stone will do.

What is the role of the 1989 dissidents today? According to C. A. Yeung, an Australian blogger and human rights activist, hardly any role. Dissidents abroad, above all, appear to be out of touch with many activists inside China. This may also be true for Wei Jingsheng, an exiled Chinese who lives in Washington D.C..

Wei wasn’t part of the 1989 movement. At the time, he had been a political prisoner for some ten years. He was only released in 1993, and soon, he was re-arrested. Since 1997, he has been in America.

It requires a strong – and at times probably dogmatic – personality to resist the pressures Wei faced. No confessions, no concessions to the Chinese authorities through all the years of imprisonment. To people like Wei, “foreign interference” in China’s “internal affairs” is no sacrilege, but necessity. Such “interference” may not create space to live for open dissidents in totalitarian countries, but it does, at times, enable dissidents to survive. In that light, it was only logical that Wei attended a hearing of the German federal parliament’s culture and media committee on December 2008, about the alleged proximity of Germany’s foreign broadcaster’s Chinese department (Deutsche Welle, DW)  to the CCP. DW Staff and program should defend human rights and democracy as a matter of principle, Wei demanded.

It turned out that Wei didn’t actually know the DW programs, jeered Xinhua newsagency.  Wei didn’t disagree: “As a matter of fact, I have said from earlier on that I would not listen to the broadcast of the Deutsche Welle’s Chinese service that has been speaking on the CCP’s behalf.”

Such appearances in foreign parliaments may appear fussy, and near-irrelevant. But in 2002, Dutch author and exile observer Ian Buruma had still believed that Chinese dissidents abroad could play a big role:

Let’s say there are suddenly serious splits in the Chinese government. Things start to move rather quickly. All kinds of things are going to happen. And then, it can be that you suddenly need people who know how to operate in Washington, who know which buttons to press and [who] have contacts in Congress, and so on. And this has happened in the case of Taiwan, for example, where you had dissidents in the 60s and 70s who hung around, languished, were considered to be irrelevant until things began to change in Taiwan politically and suddenly, they were important.2)

But maybe, by now, that role has diminuished further – if Buruma’s original observations were correct. Maybe Wei Jingsheng and other dissidents, among them those who had to leave China after June 4, 1989, will play a role similar to the one Wolf Biermann, an East German exile in West Germany, anticipated for himself long before the Berlin Wall came down: at times cheering from the sidelines, providing advice once in a while, but hardly authoritatively. Only on his return to East Germany, Biermann mused, his actual exile would begin, as hardly anyone would recognize him: Dann beginnt erst mein Exil.

The actual historical events of spring 1989 are a different story, however. These days, the CCP neither condemns the events, nor does it condone them. The topic is entirely shunned.

In Hong Kong, people haven’t forgotten. After all, the June-4 crackdown came as a shock for a society that was to return to the motherland eight years and a month later. June 4 is part of tradition there. For many Hong Kong activists who demand more democratic rights for Hong Kongers themselves, solidarity with mainland activists or dissidents is part of their self-image.

The only official evaluation so far: Deng Xiaoping defends his reform policies of economic openness and political repression, June 9, 1989

The only official evaluation so far: Deng Xiaoping defends his reform policies of economic openness and political repression, June 9, 1989 (click picture for video)

In 1995, Deng Xiaoping‘s daughter Deng Rong suggested in an interview with the New York Times  that only later generations could judge the 1989 events. She didn’t know how people thought about it – but my father at least, in his heart, believed that he had no other way.

It may take years before a re-evaluation of the 1989 movements may begin. Or it may only take months. The CCP could initiate one if it feels strong enough, or the citizenry could initiate one if the party gets weaker.

Nobody inside or outside China knows what is being thought about the movement. And many Chinese may only find out what they think once it becomes a topic – when it gets unearthed, gradually or rapidly, in a controlled or spontaneous process.

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Notes

1) Yang Lian: Alte Geschichten (I-IV), Der einzige Hafen des Sommers, aus: Masken und Krokodile, Berlin, Weimar 1994, quoted by Joachim Sartorius (Hrsg): Atlas der Neuen Poesie, Reinbek, 1996, S. 67.
天空更加阴暗  你说  这船老了
一生运载的风暴都已走远
该卸下自己了  让石头船舷去腐烂
夏季  是惟一的港口

2) Jatinder Verma: Asian Diasporas, BBC (World Service), Sept 2, 2002

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Monday, May 20, 2013

The Weeks before June 4: Deng Xiaoping’s remarks and the April-26 Editorial

« Previous translation/rendition: Struggling for the Ideological Switch Stands

For all previous instalments, see this table.

Most or all of the party-insider information used by Wu Renhua seems to be based on “Li Peng’s diary”. There seems to be wide-spread agreement that the diary – becoming known in 2010 – was authentic. However, even if it is, one needs to ask if Li’s own account of the run-up to the massacre of June 3/4 1989 is accurate. Probably, these are questions only the party archives could answer – JR

Tuesday, April 25, 1989

Main Link: 1989 年 4 月 24 日 星期日

About 60,000 students at 43 colleges and universities in Beijing continue the strike on lessons. (On April 24, 38 colleges and universities were involved.) At some colleges and universities, wall papers promoting the students’ movement continue to emerge.

At 3 p.m., the Beijing University Preparatory Committee publishes a notice: eight out of the university’s 27 faculties have set up branch committees, and the preparatory committee has conducted re-elections, with Kong Qingdong (孔庆东), Wang Chiying (王池英), Feng Congde (封从德), Wang Dan (王丹), and Shen Tong (沈彤) as new members. “The new preparatory committee will have decision-making authority, and temporarily take the lead of the students union.”

The Beijing University students union has established contact with more than 32 other colleges and universities in Beijing. Chairman Zhou Yongjun says that three demands have been issued to the government:

  • official dialog with the state council, based on delegations (or representation)
  • a public apology for the Xinhua Gate incident and punishment for the perpetrators
  • truthful domestic media coverage about the students movement.

At nine in the morning, at his home, Deng Xiaoping listens to Li Peng’s, Yang Shangkun’s, Qiao Shi’s, Hu Qili’s, Yao Yilin’s, Li Ximing’s, Chen Xitong’s and others’ reports. The meeting ends before 11 a.m.. After the meeting, Yang Shangkun stays with Deng for discussions.

Deng agrees with the politburo standing committee’s and the broader politbureau meetings’ decisions, and requires the central committee and the state council to establish two teams – one to focus on dealing with the unrest, and one to get hold of the routine work. Deng says that before, the talk had been about managing the economic environment, but now, there was a need to manage the political environment.

Deng believes the students movement isn’t a normal agitation (or strike), but a political unrest. Attention needs to be paid to avoiding bloodspills, but it will be hard to avoid it completely. In the end, it could be necessary to arrest a batch of people. The “People’s Daily”, in accordance with the spirit of what Deng said, writes in its editorial on April 261) that “we must oppose the unrest with a clear and distinct stand” (more literally: under a bright banner).

On Li Peng’s proposal, Zeng Jianhui (曾建徽) drafts the editorial, and after authorization by Hu Qili and Li Peng, it is decided that the editorial shall be aired this evening at 7 p.m., by Central People’s Broadcasting Station (CPBS) and on CCTV’s main newscast Xinwen Lianbo.

Delegations from all colleges and universities in Beijing discuss the prospects of the students movement at the Autonomous Federation’s meeting, held at the University of Political Science and Law, at 7 p.m.., and determining a draft for a national people’s program. At the time of the meeting, the April-26 editorial is aired, on which countermeasures are discussed. The editorial leads to a tense atmosphere, and one student leader says that the danger is understood, and that the work to defend the dormitories needs to be strengthened.

At about 18:45, some three- to four thousand students of the People’s University (Renmin University) arrive at the China Youth University for Political Sciences, at Beifang Jiaotong University, at the Academy of Nationalities  (i. e. national minorities, 中央民族学院 – frequently referred to as the Minzu University of China), and the Beijing Foreign Studies University (actually: foreign-languages university, formerly an academy, 北京外语学院, now 北京外国语大学) to support the strikes, and also to strongly oppose the April-26 editorial. 21:40, the protesters leave the China Youth University for Political Sciences, originally planning to go to Beijing Normal University, but they are intercepted by nearly 800 police. At 21:02, more two thousand students from the People’s (Renmin) University, the Minzu University of China, and other universities are protesting around the universities, oppose the April-26 editorial, saying that the editorial confuses right and wrong (颠倒是非) and that “action must continue”. Some students are shouting a slogan: “Oppose repressions against the student movement”.

At 23:00, the Capital Autonomous Federation of University Students (北高联) issues a notice: “On April 27, the entire city will demonstrate unitedly and converge on Tian An Men Square”, to oppose the April-26 editorial.

At 23:00, the Beijing University (Students) Preparatory Committee (北大筹委会 / 北大学生筹委会) holds a press conference at the Beijing University No. 1 Teaching Building (北京大学第一教学楼), and Kong Qingdong, who is hosting the conference, announces that “the Beijing University Preparatory Committee is neither anti-party nor anti-constitutional; it is here to promote the progress of democracy [or democratization].” He also spells out three conditions for the students’ return to the classrooms:

  1. dialog with the government
  2. an accurate explanation of the 4-20 incident [see here, Wang Zhiyong] and
  3. a press law.

In a brief meeting at 15:00, Li Peng convenes a brief meeting of the standing committee of the politbureau and communicates Deng Xiaoping’s remarks. Yang Shangkun attends as a non-voting participant. The standing committee believes that Deng Xiaoping’s remarks are absolutely important and should be communicated to the lower ranks right away. It is decided that first, it shall be passed on  within the “system of the big three” (三大系统) – to the central committee, to the state council, and to all cadres above vice-ministerial level in the Beijing municipal government, including the transcript of Deng’s remarks today, and the standing committee’s records from the meeting in the evening on April 24.

Wen Jiabao’s instructions to the General Office of the CCP  to communicate the standing committee’s records from the meeting in the evening on April 24, and to promptly arrange Deng Xiaoping’s remarks, are the foundation of communications. Toward the evening, Wen gives Li Peng a phonecall asking for instructions if some sensitive issues in Deng Xiaoping’s remarks should be kept out of the communication at first. To reduce possible vulnerabilities and to get as many points to ralley the comrades around, Li Peng agrees.

The quantity of propaganda material explaining “the situation in Beijing” is growing. At Fudan University, Tongji University, Jiaotong University, and many other universities and colleges, wall newspapers, photos or leaflets emerge, mainly about “the real story of the 4-20 incident” and “the whole story about the 4-21 demonstrations” , and “100,000 students’ peaceful petition” etc..

The rate of students who show up for classes is diminuishing in Tianjin’s major universities, and about one third of students are on strike. There are calls for supporting the students in Beijing. Eighty-seven young teachers at Nankai University put up slogans: “Support the Students’ Strike!”

In the afternoon, the “Jilin Declaration” from Jilin University emerges, with the full wording: “The fate of our nation is the responsibility of everyone. Beijing University has arisen, so has Nankai University, all students are pleading in the name of the people – how can the people of Jilin University stand by and watch? Arise, people of Jilin University. Political corruption, maldistribution, economic chaos, outmoded education and the nation in peril, when will be the time!

Wall newspapers in some universities in Xi’an, Changsha and other places also refute the “People’s Daily” editorial, calling it “a pack of lies”, as the students’ actions were not a political struggle, but a demand for democracy. Some Xi’an students distribute mimeographed leaflets, calling for a demonstration on Xincheng Square on Sunday.

At the Central South University of Technology (中南工业大学) in Changsha, Hunan Province, the chairpeople of seven faculties who prepared a meeting at 21:00 to adopt measures and to support the students of Beijing to escalate the situation, are stopped by the university’s related departments.

The traffic regulations that had been in effect since the 4-22 riots at Xincheng Square, the center of the riots, were lifted at 00:00 today. Large numbers of armed police are leaving the square, but some police are guarding the entrances of the provincial government. The authorities have also ordered a batch of helmeted troops from the people’s Liberation Army 49 Army from their base, twenty kilometers outside Xi’an, into the square.

According to a “People’s Daily” report, 98 people were arrested in the riots of Changsha in the evening on April 22, among them 32 workers, peasants who work in Changsha as migrant workers, six six self-employed/small-business owners (getihu), 28 socially idle people2), six students (five of them middle school students and one of them a secondary specialized or technical school student).

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Notes

1) In a partial chronology of 20th century China, Tian’anmen Square TV provides a translation of the April-26 editorial.
2) A stronger translation would be riff-raff.

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To be continued

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