Meeting Hu Yaobang and Hu Qiaomu

The following are translation excerpts from Dongxiang magazine’s April edition – according to the forum where I found the text, anyway. A short bio of the author, Wang Juntao (王军涛), is here. (Can’t guarantee that the text in the forum is the same as the original.)

[…..] In 1979, I had a discussion with Hu Yaobang. That year, I and some friends had privately founded Beijing Spring (北京之春). On behalf of then editor-in-chief Lu Pu (吕普), and as his deputy, I called on some open-minded leaders within the CCP, hoping to push them to accept private publications, and to carry out reforms on the political system. When we arrived at Hu Yaobang’s home, he happened to be there, having a rest because of toothache. He hadn’t accepted the meeting with a label of representatives of private publications, but under the theme of Elders meet the younger generation, we had a frank and good conversation.

There were a lot of issues. I set out with some questions, the two most important of which were the need for reforms to be carried out by the Communist Party, and to put an end to the persecution of Wei Jingsheng (魏京生). Hu Yaobang mentioned the Wang Anshi reforms and his own experiences. He said that with China’s reforms, it was necessary to  think about how to make ones own ideas real, but also not to tip things over. He demanded that I shouldn’t talk about reforms in an abstract way, but that I should say how I thought that, after the Third Plenary Session of 11th Central Committee, China could do even better in its reforms. He didn’t answer my second question directly, but took a report on Guizhou province, which told how they first arrested and then released people, concerning the social enlightenment movement (启蒙社)*], concerned about their practise from an ideological and a practical perspective. He said that he approved of such a practise. Finally, he said that young people had ideals, enthusiasm, and knowledge, but lacked experience, sometimes didn’t think comprehensively enough, but hope rested on the young.

The talk touched me deeply. I had met an intelligent political leader with ideals and enthusiasm who pursued justice and dared to look into the matters.

Nine days later, we met with Hu Qiaomu (胡乔木). We argued from the beginning to the end. Hu Qiaomu rejected all anti-corruption proposals. He reminded us that no dynasty had been able to eliminate corruption, and that one shouldn’t be naïve. After that meeting, I was angry and frustrated. […..]


*] term often used in connection with the Democracy Wall.

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