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Hu Jintao: No Yeltsin Allowed in China

China’s new communist leader Hu Jintao continues down the path of totalitarianism, dashing the hopes of political reform that many expected of him.

On May 19, 2005, the Communist Party held a conference about suppressing grassroots human rights movements and preventing color revolution1 in China. At the conference, Hu Jintao, the Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee, emphatically stated, "Do not create moral leaders [in China]; do not create a ‘Yeltsin,’ a ‘Havel,’ a ‘Walesa’ or an ‘Aung San Suu Kyi.’"

Recently there has been a heated discussion on the Internet based on a long speech published by a well-known scholar of Agriculture—Wen Tiejun. In his article, Wen Tiejun asserted, "Only through state ownership of land and banks can China remain stable." He revealed the background of the CCP Central Committee’s decision on strengthening the Party’s capability to stay in power, a resolution passed at the Chinese Communist Party’s Fourth Plenary Session of the 16th Central Committee on September 4, 2005. Wen Tiejun also reintroduced the outdated "Hu-Wen New Administrative Policy," and strongly criticized mainstream scholars who believe in privatization, a market economy, liberalism, and globalization.

Wen Tiejun concluded that the CCP should strengthen its control on leadership, and should not promote U.S.-style political reform for democracy. He recommended, "The Party-in-Power needs to strengthen the capability of implementing its policies and pay special attention to preventing political risks that were raised in a closed-door meeting last year."

"What are these political risks?" Wen answered his rhetorical question: "First, some people want to promote U.S.-style democracy, yet there are no movers and shakers to promote it. More than 90 percent of government officials receive incomes that cannot be explained clearly, especially those in key decision-making positions. This problem is more severe than we expected. Can we expose them all? We cannot. Can we expect these officials to carry out the government’s policies with even-handedness? We cannot do that either. Secondly, most of China’s professionals and intellectuals have extra income in addition to their salaries. No tax is withheld from this income. The rule is that the more famous the scholars are, the more likely they will make extra income that, most likely, involves tax evasion. Whether these people really pay taxes on their extra income is a widespread problem. Thirdly, numerous business owners in the private sector are involved in some kind of illegal activities. Since the middle class in a society consists mainly of government officials, business owners and professionals, the Chinese middle-class people are problematic. How can we form a fair political system based on their support? The answer is that we cannot. Therefore, the only choice now is to strengthen the CCP’s monopoly on power to maintain stability."

The explanation above is a vivid description of the CCP’s bottom line: The CCP’s political agenda is indeed to focus on strengthening its own power to maintain stability, and in the process, to protect the "elite groups," not the people.{mospagebreak}

Grassroots Movements for Human Rights in Guangdong

On January 6, 2006, in the Sixth all-member Conference of the CCP’s Central Disciplinary Committee, Hu Jintao made it clear, saying: "We have to place great emphasis on big incidents that damage people’s interests, and seriously investigate these high-impact incidents that cause great harm to the people." Hu’s speech stirred up sentiments against Guangdong Province Party boss Zhang Dejiang, right after the Shanwei Massacre (at the end of last year, in which the military opened fire on villagers protesting eminent domain). There was a great deal of speculation about "Chasing out Zhang" and "Removing Zhang from his post." For a while, it was a favorite topic among many Chinese people.

Even so, after the Shanwei Massacre and the CCP’s Sixth Conference of the Central Disciplinary Committee, the Guangdong government regime continued to launch large-scale bloody crackdowns on farmers. On January 14, 2006, over 10,000 farmers from the Sanjiao Township, Zhongshan City, who had lost their land, gathered at the intersection of a national highway and the Beijing-Zhuhai highway to protest. The regime authorities dispatched 2,000 armed policemen with high-pressure water canons, tear gas, batons, and belts to suppress the protest. An eyewitness described that the police "beat up everyone they saw; they even dragged people out of their homes to beat them. After the beating, they threw the injured people into police vans." About 60 villagers were injured and sent to the hospital; over 100 were arrested. One would wonder who gave Zhang Dejiang a "license to kill," as he dared to launch one bloody crackdown after another!

The Chinese official media remain silent about the Shanwei incident. Recently, a deputy chief editor of a state-controlled newspaper complained to some retired media executives. He sarcastically commented, "The CCP Central Propaganda Department’s control over newspapers today is the best demonstration of the agency’s vision on ‘scientific development’ (a popular phrase used to illustrate China’s modernization)." The secret visit by Kim Jong Il serves as a good example. Many people saw him and many hosted him; Hong Kong and international media followed him closely. But in the meantime, the Chinese Foreign Ministry and media covered up Kim’s visit and did not reveal it to the public. Instead of "rule by law," this is a practice of "rule by lies." The only people deceived are the Chinese people who paid for Kim Jong Il’s luxurious tour of China. The CCP regime and its media are making a fool out of themselves in front of the international media.

Hu’s Three Key Points to Crack Down On Civil Rights Movements

At the Fourth Plenary Conference in 2004, the CCP launched a systematic campaign to suppress civil rights protests, one of which was by the Shanwei Massacre.{mospagebreak}

Hu Jintao’s speech in the closing session of the CCP’s Fourth Plenary Conference was the declaration of his political agenda after he acquired leadership of the CCP, the Chinese government and the Chinese military. Later he wrote to the Central Propaganda Department before they cascaded his speech down the Party hierarchy, "In ideology, we have to learn from Cuba and North Korea. Even though North Korea’s economy suffers from temporary difficulties, their political direction is always correct." This statement shows that Hu, the new Party boss, finally decided that it’s time to learn from Mao Zedong as he has now secured his power in the CCP.

On May 19, 2005, in his speech at a Politburo meeting focused on the topic of "Keeping Party Members’ Advanced Nature," Hu Jintao raised the following points: "To fight a smokeless people’s war, to stop the U.S. and European countries from launching color revolution in China’s neighboring countries, and to smash the U.S. attempt to start a color revolution in China." In this speech, Hu issued three strict orders:

1) Tightly control all media in China

2) Tightly control "four types of people," namely, those who promote liberalism, human rights activists, Falun Gong practitioners, and NGOs

3) Decontaminate and adjust the publishing companies in China. Hu said, "We should find out about all human rights activities in their infancy and eliminate them; we should never allow anyone to use citizens’ rights to challenge the Party."

In July 25, 2005, in a Politburo meeting on preparing for the Fifth Party Plenary Conference in October, Hu Jintao reiterated the decision to tightly control and attack the "four types of people." He also further clarified his position on civil rights incidents throughout China: "We need to have two preparations. On economic issues, we should make a best effort to compromise and resolve; but on political issues, we will not go soft; we must abolish all such activities with strong measures; never let them have any kind of influence." Hu’s speech is a clear signal to escalate the crackdown on human rights movements.

Hu’s speeches in the above-mentioned conferences were cascaded to the provincial level as the CCP’s official documents. The summarized version of the May 19 speech was distributed at the county level. Some people said that Hu’s political instructions could not go beyond Beijing, as they were concerned about the inefficiencies of implementing his instructions. Yet when it comes to a totalitarian command, it goes all the way down to the grassroots level. On June 28, People’s Daily, a Chinese official newspaper, published a commentary in support of Hu’s speech, in which the author took the strict control of Deng Xiaoping’s "iron-fist political theory" a step further. The commentary emphasized, "Development is the direction that will not be changed; so is stability." Now Hu Jintao, the top boss, is giving a green light to all communist officials at different levels to crack down on civil rights movements. Government officials will certainly follow this order.{mospagebreak}

Emerging Social Instability

Around the time of the Fifth Party Plenary Conference in October 2005, the regime’s crackdown on civil rights movements was at a peak. There were fierce life-or-death struggles occurring at different levels in China. On one side, there were government officials and interests groups; on the other side, there were farmers and unemployed workers. In every sale of a state-owned company, or construction of a power plant, officials at the provincial, county, township, and village level could pocket huge profits of up to 100 million yuan (US$12.5 million). The investors might make even more. With that much money at stake, no wonder these powerful people gave orders for the armed policemen to beat the farmers and workers in order to silence them.

On December 20, 2005, Li Deshui, the National Bureau of Statistics director, gave the media the following information from the first national economic survey in 2004: GDP increased by 16.8 percent, or 16 trillion yuan (US$2.0 trillion). This means China’s economy surpassed that of Italy and became number six in the world. Based on this great leap forward, in 2005, China’s economy was expected to pass that of the U.K. and France and become number four. Since Hu Jintao came to power, China’s economy grew over nine percent each year, unlike the situation in Jiang Zemin’s era when the economic growth was quite volatile. Such high-speed growth can be called China’s new Great Leap Forward.

On the other hand, Professor Sun Liping of Tsinghua University pointed out, "In the areas of education, medical care, or housing reform, every time we introduce a reform that touches the interests of a majority of the people, the situation evolves into a war for ripping off money and people’s benefits." According to Professor Sun, "In the past 10 years, China’s Gini Coefficient2 reached between 0.53 to 0.54; urban income was six times greater than that in rural areas. When we pushed the reform to a deeper level, 60 million employees of state-owned or collective-own enterprises lost their jobs; 40 million peasants completely lost their land, or owned less than one acre of land; 70 million stock holders lost total 1.5 trillion yuan (US$190 billion) in the stock market; 150 million urban residents lost their social welfare benefits."

It was reported that three retired (colonel level) military officers—Duan Jiazhen, Meng Zhigang, and Xiao Shuanhus—established a National Retired Military Officers’ Human Rights Service Center, and planned to mobilize more than 10,000 retired soldiers to appeal in Beijing in 2006, organize a 100,000-person demonstration in 2007, and have 10,000 people collectively announce their quitting the Chinese Communist Party in Tiananmen Square in 2008.

On October 31, 2005, the General Office of the CCP Central Committee, and the General Office of the Central Military Commission jointly issued a report titled "Investigation of the National Retired Military Officers Human Rights Service Center" (The Investigation), in which they claimed that the authorities "broke the case" and arrested the three men. Their case was handed to prosecutors for trial.{mospagebreak}

On November 10, 2005, the General Office of the CCP Central Committee, the CCP’s International Department, the Foreign Ministry, the Public Security Ministry, the National Security Ministry and Ministry of Civil Affairs issued a jointly sponsored document entitled "The Working-Directives on Strengthening the Management of NGO Activities (The Working-Directives)." The document stipulated that:

1) Anti-China forces and media outside of China have never ceased their effort to westernize China in order to disintegrate China. Recently they have intensified their effort to nurture and support agents of Western countries and political opponents in China.

2) These overseas organizations use human rights as an excuse to support rights groups and disadvantaged groups in China in order to intensify China’s internal conflict.

3) They take advantage of China’s internal conflict and sabotage China with a false claim [of helping Chinese NGO activities].

The Investigation document was cascaded to lower government agencies with Hu Jintao’s approval. The Working-Directives was written based on Hu Jintao’s speeches at the Fourth Plenary Conference on May 19, 2005. Hu used Yeltsin, Havel, Walesa and Aung San Suu Kyi as examples of "agents of the West" to emphasize his point of not creating social leaders such as Yeltsin in China.

The Shanwei Massacre occurred in this political environment. In their article published in Qiu Shi magazine’s (a CCP official publication) January issue, Commander Wu Shuangzhan and Political Commissar Sui Mingtai of the Armed Police Forces revealed Hu Jintao’s expectations of them as well as of the Armed Police. Hu Jintao asked China to develop an armed police force that can "tackle sudden incidents, a powerful army ready to fight." The two top police officers’ understanding of "tackling sudden incidents" was that "the armed police should improve their capability, from dealing with everyday incidents to handling large-scale mass movements." Today, one million armed police have their guns pointed at landless farmers, unemployed workers, and the urban homeless.

Who Is Responsible?

Hong Kong media revealed that, when the Central Disciplinary Committee Conference gave Zhang Dejiang a performance assessment, he failed due to his evasive tactics and his dishonesty. Zhang’s behavior was totally predictable: He has support from the top, which gives him the best defense. How can he not use it? The consequence was that someone else had to be blamed. A deputy police head of a county was charged. Similar results occurred with the recent Songhua River water pollution incident. Xie Zhenhua, the director of the China Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) became a scapegoat for this accident.{mospagebreak}

On January 16, 2006, the CCP Central Committee held a working session to discuss Hu Jintao’s call for "Launching a Marxist Theory Research and Development Program." Li Changchun gave a speech, in which he claimed that the program is "a strategic campaign to consolidate the Party’s ruling position." On Mao Zedong’s birthday on December 26, 2005, the China Academy of Social Sciences formed the Marxist Theory Research Institute. Hu approved a 2.5 billion yuan (US$310 million) grant for this 200-member institute. It is reported that the first installment of 500 million yuan has already been transferred to the institute.

Now Zhang Dejiang’s future has become a hot topic. Where he is sent will be an indication of the direction in which Hu wants to lead China.

Adapted and translated by CHINASCOPE from Kaifang Magazine (Hong Kong), February issue, 2006

[1] See Wikepedia at Color revolutions or Flower revolutions are the names given collectively to a series of related movements that developed in post-communist societies in Central and Eastern Europe and are possibly spreading elsewhere including some places in the middle east. Their participants use mostly nonviolent revolutionary change to protest against governments seen as entrenched and authoritarian, and to advocate democracy, liberalism, and national independence. They usually also adopt a specific color or flower as their symbol, and the protests are notable for the important role of NGOs and particularly student activist organizations in organizing creative nonviolent resistance.
So far these movements have been successful in Serbia (the 2000 downfall of Milošević), Georgia (the 2003 Rose Revolution), Ukraine (the 2004 Orange Revolution), and Kyrgyzstan (the 2005 Tulip Revolution). Each time massive street protests followed disputed elections and led to the resignation or overthrow of leaders considered by their opponents to be authoritarian.
[2] Wikepedia: "It is a number between 0 and 1, where 0 corresponds to perfect equality (e.g., everyone has the same income) and 1 corresponds to perfect inequality (e.g., one person has all the income, and everyone else has zero income)." See: for a more detailed description.