The Epoch Times newspaper is making its “Time” by publishing a series of nine commentaries on the Chinese Communist Party.
Since a young age, we have thought of the U.S. as a lovable country. We believe this is partly due to the fact that the U.S. has never … launched any attacks on XX. More fundamentally, the XX people hold good impressions of the U.S. based on its democratic and open-minded character.” Who are these XX people? Brits? Canadians? No. They are Chinese, as it turns out. Well, that is strange. But where is it quoted from, then? From a speech by Madam Chiang, when she was visiting the U.S. during the World War II? Hmm… Or, a statement by a 1989 Chinese democracy activist? Wrong again. It is an excerpt from a commemorative editorial published on July 4, 1947, in Xinhua Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) then based in the barren caves of Yan’an, Shan’xi Province.
If you are surprised by the above quoted passage, read the article’s title — “Hymn to Freedom: In Tribute to America’s National Day.” Now, pick up your jaw, but do not quickly write the article off as an impulse from an aberrant, pro-America editor later purged from the Party; on the same date one year later, another enthused editorial dutifully appeared in the same newspaper, entitled “American’s National Day: Celebrating the Triumphs of Freedom and Democracy.” Now, after you have scratched you head, you may attribute this spring of goodwill on July 4 from Chinese communists to their attempt to reciprocate Independence Day fireworks, an invention of their ancient forebears, or a hoax to kill off time in boring Yan’an before they took over the whole China. But they seem to have been more serious, because they were also big fans of America’s founding fathers. On April 13, 1945, Jefferson’s birthday, the same Xinhua Daily made a point of publishing an effusive article—larded with quotes ranging from Jefferson himself to Roosevelt to the Declaration of Independence—that commends Jefferson as a “vanguard of American freedom.”
Now, you are completely confused: First off, I bet not many college-bound students would know on which day Jefferson was born if the question ever appeared in an SAT exam question. And if they do know that, not many of them can quote him, but you are now telling me those communists in China not only know all these but they love him. Likewise, if you tell this to any Chinese from the Mainland, they would not believe you either: Are you sure it is Xinhua Daily? Because it is now called People’s Daily, and chances of People’s Daily promoting American values are just not great, probably as much as the VOA becoming a mouthpiece of the CCP. So, what is going on?
In fact, the CCP has always been cloaked in a heavy shroud of mystique. People in the west had long thought it was run in a manner similar to its now defunct Big Brother, the Soviet Union, but they later found out that was not exactly true. After the Cold War ended and KGB files became declassified, people at the CIA researching those files were dismayed that the rift between the Chinese and Russian communists could never have been more huge. Even to those Chinese living under the CCP’s control most of their lives, they are surprised the Party is just a chameleon that keeps changing its color to adapt to the new international order for survival. This is probably the biggest difference between Chinese communists and their comrades in Russia, and the reason why one is already history after 70 years’ fanfare and the other is still trying to write history in its own terms: Those Bolsheviks are ideologues but they are responsible ideologues. When they know their belief cannot work, they just quit as did Gorbachev. In contrast, the CCP only believes in its absolute power and its mandated ownership of China. The only discernible ideology the CCP clings on to is jingoism, which will serve as a double-edged sword to kill itself off someday; and the strategy to keep itself alive is even more absurd: Deng Xiaoping summarized it as “crossing the river by feeling the stones.”
This difference is important for understanding why China miraculously withstood the wave of change that swept across the Soviet bloc in 1989. More important, knowing this is crucial in order to put what is going on in China in a proper light and to make meaningful projections for its future trajectory. At whatever rate, the riddle of the CCP has been wrapped up since 1989 in yet another layer of an envelope that prevents people from seeing its true essence: The fall of the Berlin Wall did trigger a domino effect in the communist world, but ostensibly the CCP appears to have the magical power to tide over any storm. More than that, to many of us it has the charm to somehow turn itself into the new-found darling of the western capitalists, who are pouring billions of dollars every year into China.
Indeed, the cliché of a “Multi-headed Hydra” would best be applied to the CCP. One of its many heads reads “democracy and freedom,” a mantra the CCP stole from the burgeoning democracy of the USA to handily defeat—with a small guerilla force based in the faraway enclave of Yan’an—the reigning Kuomintang, which, despite its great sacrifice and success in the war against the Japanese, was accused to be “authoritarian and Fascist.” Then, the chameleon of the CCP changed its color when another head, called “proletarian dictatorship,” took over. From 1949 through 1978, ruthless purging that would have made Stalin ashamed was the theme of China’s social life, and bloody disasters like the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution ensued, with a death toll of over 60 million. Now, in the face of the new political climate, the iron-clad “proletarian dictatorship” has given away to a velvet-glove approach— of the so-called “people’s democratic dictatorship”—and “free market” has become the new label on the new head.
How many heads does the CCP have? It seems hard to know. A recent series of commentaries published by the Epoch Times, a fast-growing global Chinese-language newspaper, is ambitious enough to give a rough count. Coming in nine installments, or “ping,” the series intends to cover the nine prime features of the CCP. On the surface, the Chinese word “ping” means commentaries, but to anyone who ever lived during the Cultural Revolution period, he would know better. In those days, People’s Daily routinely rolled out editorials or commentaries under the direct aegis of Mao Zedong and his wife Jiang Qing, the couple that masterminded the great havoc, and those commentaries were nothing but bugle calls that rallied the armies of Red Guards around to crush yet another innocent segment of the Chinese population. Indeed, such fiery political writings are not so much as commentaries as are “Xi2 Wen2,” or summons to arms in ancient China, that tended to appear during turbulent historical moments when one dynasty wass being replaced by another.
Spreading like a fire, the Epoch Times’ “Jiu-Ping” has caused quite a stir in the Chinese community worldwide. According to the South China Morning Post, Meng Weizai, a prominent writer and communist official who had joined the Party in the trenches of the Korea War more than 50 years ago, has published on the Internet a personal statement to withdraw from the CCP; the Epoch Times says his dramatic about-face represents a conscientious reaction after reading “Jiu-Ping.” So far, the typically polemical propaganda machinery of the CCP has remained silent to this undercurrent of “Jiu-Ping.”The unusual quietude, however, is understandable to most Chinese because a tirade from the Party will only add value to any forbidden stuff like “Jiu-Ping”—and send people all over the place to find it. But Mr. Meng’s recantation is probably too sensitive to be completely ignored; The Xinhua News Agency was swift to put out a signed statement on its website, presumably from Mr. Meng that proclaims he “has been and will forever be a proud CCP member.” This new turn of development certainly has thrilled more people, including some self-styled handwriting experts who found the signature was a fake, and precipitated another statement from Mr. Meng that is published in the Epoch Times: “The statement under my name from the Xinhua was done by somebody else. Please be understanding that my senility and other well-known objective constraints might keep me from speaking out again in the future. Goodbye, Everyone. Goodbye to the Communist mythology.”
It may be hard to decide which statement was penned by the real Mr. Meng, but one thing is certain that if withdrawal has been his wish, he has good company inside China. At the time of my writing, more than 2,000 Chinese have answered “Jiu-Ping” with a statement to the Epoch Times to sever themselves from a party that has brought bitter memories. One of them, Ms. Huang Xiaomin, used to be China’s Olympic swimming star, and her decision to leave the Party has been trouble-free as she has emigrated to the South Korea.
A salient feature of the Chinese “Xi2 Wen2,” or summons to arms, is its appeal to Heaven’s will as a way to deprive the incumbent of their legitimacy; the Epoch Times’ “Jiu-Ping” follows suit on this score as well. Three of the nine Ping address the relation between the CCP and China’s spiritual belief: No. 4 is titled “On how the Communist Party is an anti-Universe force?”; No. 5 examines how and why the CCP, under the urging of the then- leader Jiang Zemin, decided to persecute Falun Gong, a home-grown spiritual movement; and No. 8 argues the CCP is an out-and-out evil cult based on obsolescent import belief.
The language of the “Jiu-Ping” may come across as being a bit direct, and someone accustomed to scholarly references and “he says this; she says that” neutral stance may criticize it for want of balance. The standing ovations from some of the best-known Chinese writers in exile, however, seem to suggest otherwise. Mr. Jin Zhong, a dissident writer having a traumatic experience similar to that of Mr. Meng Weizai, wrote to the newspaper, “The tumultuous political upheavals wrought by the CCP can only be understood by people like us, who were right there to live through them. To outsiders, those were mere thunderstorms seen through the window of a secure and comfortable shelter.” Alas, the cloud of the CCP is still engulfing China, and its color is as dark as ever. Right now, the persecuted Falun Gong practitioners are enduring what Messrs. Meng and Jin have been through in the past 50 years, but how many of us are just watching by the windowsill while the tragedy is unfolding before our eyes?
Let’s face it: Each country has its own psyche, on which its destiny turns. While the Pentagon and the State Department may have developed fancy and complex models to track a country’s present and future, none of their equations can capture the elusive variable about that country’s mass mentality. This is why no one had correctly predicted the fall of the Berlin Wall, and no Kremlinologist was successful in mapping out the drastic new course taken by the Russian people since that point on.
Until September 11, when such terms like “goodness” and “evil” were resurrected in our memory and reappeared in Presidential addresses, the end of the Cold War had lulled Americans into refusing to believe anything that is absolutely abhorrent. With the sudden vanishing of the “evil empire,” an unready Hollywood was struggling to find a worthy opponent for James Bond during most of the 1990s. Gradually, China and the Chinese Communist Party are losing their well-defined political meaning, and everyone is enamored of the dollar sign that is becoming the new symbol of that country and its arbitrary ruler. This “sophistication” in people’s taste may have contributed to the commercial exchange between China and America, but the ultimate question that is brought up by the “Jiu-Ping” has been set aside: What is the true nature of the CCP? Is the CCP capable of a complete makeover so that it is no longer a threat to anyone? Any reluctance to confront these questions is self-deceptive and just deferring the day of reckoning to the future, because without a satisfactory settling of these pending issues the west’s open-arm embrace of China as its coveted trading partner is as risky as “Yang3 Hu3 Wei2 Huan4,” a Chinese proverb meaning “raising a tiger to be a future personal menace.”
Thank you, Epoch Times, for your Herculean effort to fight the the multi-headed monster that has spell bound so many people. As we know, the Hydra, whose demise is long overdue, cannot be overcome by a single effort. The Chinese people will do the rest. Now that they have become awakened, they will work together to usher in a new China and a new period of epoch-making times.
English translations of Nine Commentaries on the Chinese Communist Party are available at http://www.theepochtimes.com/
John Li is a New York based freelance writer on Sino-U.S. relations.