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From the Editor

Fifty years ago, Mao Zedong and his Chinese Communist Party (CCP) initiated a nationwide "anti-rightist" campaign in China, labeling around 550,000 intellectuals who had criticized the Party’s policies as "national enemies" and "anti-Party, anti-socialist rightists." Because the "rightists" were actually encouraged explicitly by Mao and the CCP to voice their concerns about the Party’s work prior to the campaign, it is generally viewed by Chinese historians that the campaign was a political trap set by Mao to purge potential dissidents and rivals.

The campaign brought immediate disaster to the "rightists." Some died during the infamous "struggle sessions." Many others died in prisons or labor camps, and their family members were indiscriminately persecuted as well to different extents. This was the first of the CCP’s remarkably similar, cyclical movements of purging its own people: the Great Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), the June 4th Tiananmen Square Massacre (1989), and the ongoing crackdown of Falun Gong (1999-present). Each time, a new group of innocent citizens was targeted by violence and overwhelming force. Perhaps most damaging, though, China’s traditional values of honesty and trust that had been its mainstay throughout history have been damaged beyond recognition, and they have been replaced a CCP-driven culture of deceit and violence. For the sake of survival, few today dare to challenge authority and speak the truth on sensitive issues. The moral degeneration of today’s China, reflected through slave labor, general lawlessness, and rampant counterfeit items of all sorts like forged diplomas, tainted food, fake medicine, and pirated intellectual property, is directly attributable to the propagation of the CCP culture.

True to form, the CCP is refusing to acknowledge that it made a mistake 50 years ago. Although the "rightist" label was removed from use in 1978, the CCP has never expressed public remorse for the campaign or provided financial compensation to the victims or their families. The website for CCP mouthpiece People’s Daily still emphasizes that the campaign was "a resolute counterattack against the very few capitalist rightists’ furious attack of (the Party and socialism) and was absolutely necessary," only acknowledging that the campaign was "overly expanded."

This year is the 50th anniversary of the "anti-rightist" campaign. Ever mindful of any potential threat to its rule, the CCP is prohibiting public discussion of the campaign and banning all published material related to the topic. In spite of this imposing set of circumstances, over 1,000 "rightist" survivors sent an open letter to the CCP leadership, demanding a lift of restrictions on the freedom of speech, a public apology, and monetary compensation. One thousand may not be a big number relative to the total number of victims, but their actions carry a huge implication. It is a signal that people are demanding justice. As Ren Zhong, former officer of the Beijing Public Security Bureau and one of the "rightists" who initiated the open letter, said, "If we do not raise the issue, no one would bring it up when we all pass away. We want to restore history. This is our historical responsibility."

A Tsinghua University Graduate Committed Suicide When He Could Not Find a Job – a Reminder of the Di

At 9:40 on October 31, 2006, a man jumped to his death from the 7th floor of a student dormitory building in Zhongying College, Quanzhou, Fujian Province. The police found a suicide note. The deceased said he committed suicide because he could not find a satisfactory job and did not want to be a burden to his parents. It is getting harder and harder for undergraduate and graduate students to find work. More undergraduate students are choosing to work rather than go to graduate school. In one study, 60% of graduate students regretted going to graduate school.

Chinese Traditional Musical Instruments: The Erhu

In Chinese musical events, one can often see a special instrument-the Chinese vertical fiddle, or erhu, performed as a solo instrument as well as in small ensembles and large orchestras. The humble erhu, however, despite its simple appearance, is capable of reaching depths of musical expression far beyond expectation.

The erhu, sometimes known in the West as the "Chinese violin" or Chinese two-string fiddle, is a two-stringed bowed musical instrument. It belongs to the huqin family of Chinese bowed string instruments. From the 30 or more types of huqin instruments documented throughout China’s history, a few, such as the erhu, have remained popular to this day, reaching the level of a solo instrument capable of expressing deep emotions and imitating natural sounds such as birds, horses, and even the human voice. There are usually two to six erhus in smaller orchestras, and 10 to 12 in larger ones.

Although often likened to the violin, the sound of the erhu is somewhat thinner and more nasal, with its unique tone generated by a piece of stretched python skin over the small sound box. Like other huqin instruments, the erhu does not have a fingerboard; the player’s fingers press on the strings without the strings ever touching the instrument’s neck. The hair of the bow remains permanently between the two strings, which are so closely positioned that the player’s left hand effectively moves along both strings at once to create notes, while the right hand plays the rhythm and creates the musical tone.

During China’s Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, the erhu was popular for accompanying Chinese operas. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that the erhu developed into a solo instrument.

This came about at a time when music conservatories were opening across the country and promoting Western instruments, music notation, and standardization. Many traditional Chinese instruments were sidelined or reinvented along more "scientific" and "modern" lines. For the erhu, its traditional silk strings were replaced with metal strings from the West.

    In more recent times, the erhu plays an important role in Chinese orchestras, filling the same parts as the violin in Western orchestras. Performers, such as Ms. Qi Xiaochun and George Gao, both students of the famous erhu artist Wang Yongde, have helped to popularize erhu music at an international level.

    The name huqin literally means "barbarian instrument," indicating the origins of Chinese fiddles, like the erhu, being with peoples from the northwest of China. Possibly the term also refers to the simple musical language expected from such a "primitive" instrument. However, anyone today who has heard of or been lucky enough to experience a master erhu solo performance in person is most often moved by the depth and richness of musical insight expressed through the instrument via the skill and realm of the player.

Beijing Makes a U-Turn In Its Japan Policy

China’s Communist leader Hu Jintao and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met in Hanoi, Vietnam, during the 14th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum on November 18, 2006. It was the second time they met after Abe’s visit to China in October 2006. At the Hanoi meeting, Hu expressed his interest and desire to visit Japan. Surprisingly, they did not mention the issue of the Yasukuni Shrine, which had been a thorn in Sino-Japanese relations.

Over the past five years, the relationship between China and Japan has been icy cold. There were no top-level visits between the two countries. The Beijing regime repeatedly pointed out that former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visits to the Yasukuni Shrine were the primary reason for worsening Sino-Japan relations. The fact that Japanese World War II leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal are honored at the Tokyo shrine alongside millions of war dead, has been a source of anger for those affected by Japan’s military aggression before and during the war. Thus, Abe’s October visit to Beijing was viewed as an "ice-breaking tour." Beijing’s regime not only received Abe with high status; it even compromised on the most sensitive issues such as the Yasukuni Shrine and Taiwan.

Commenting on the sudden change in China’s Japan policy, the chairman of the Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition, Mr. Wei Jingsheng, suggested that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is manipulating Japan. While attempting to soften Japan’s position, the CCP is also discouraging it from joining a Japan-U.S. Alliance.

Hu Expressed Interest in Visiting Japan

When Hu Jintao shook hands with Japan’s new prime minister in Hanoi, the suddenly warm relationship between China and Japan drew intense media attention.

During the Hanoi meeting, Shinzo Abe invited Hu Jintao to visit Japan. Hu expressed his appreciation and indicated that a detailed agenda would be arranged. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Liu Jianchao, expressed that China is positive about Hu’s visit to Japan.

Shinzo Abe was a member of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s cabinet. He supported Koizumi’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine. He also visited the shrine himself. Since Abe became prime minister, however, he has not visited the shrine. Even though his position on the Yasukuni Shrine remains unclear as he has remained silent on the topic, some say he is trying to mend ties with Beijing.

According to officials who attended the meeting, the Yasukuni Shrine issue was not discussed.{mospagebreak}

Eager to Improve Relations with Japan, Beijing Makes Big Concessions

Back in October, after Shinzo Abe met with Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao in Beijing, the leaders published a "China-Japan Joint Press Communiqué." The communiqué mentioned all the issues that were important to Japan, such as East Sea oil, North Korea nuclear weapons, the Chinese leader’s visit to Japan, and Japan’s permanent membership on the U.N. Security Council. On the other hand, the communiqué omitted all of the issues that China cares most about, such as Taiwan, the Yasukuni Shrine, and Japan’s Constitutional Amendment to change from the "pacifist" state it became after World War II. Now that Japan has amassed the third largest military budget in the world in total dollars spent, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe apparently wants to translate that fact into a legal reality. He is reviewing Article 9, the famous clause in the Japanese Constitution, which prohibits Japan from maintaining war-making capabilities and has upgraded the Japanese Defense Agency to a full ministry.

Japanese media also noticed the Beijing regime’s unusual behavior. An article published by Asahi Shimbun on November 2, 2006, says that the CCP has always treated "history and Taiwan" as the political baseline between the two countries; and when the communist leaders meet with foreign leaders, they always push them to declare their position on the Taiwan issue. For example, when French President Chirac visited China, during a joint press conference, he re-emphasized the French position supporting a "One China" policy.

The Asahi Shimbun article speculated that Hu Jintao is giving the improvement of Sino-Japan relationship a high priority and wants to avoid sensitive subjects, since they did not even include the "Taiwan issue" in their joint press communiqué after Abe’s meeting with the Chinese leaders.

The Chinese Communist Regime Needs A Weak Japan

Wei Jingsheng suggested that the CCP’s concessions were a trap.

Wei said that Abe’s political position is right wing. No only does Abe want to review Article 9 of the constitution, but he also has hinted at the possibility of a nuclear weapons development program to cover the possibility of interference from China and North Korea. He is for teaching patriotism in schools, a more assertive foreign policy, and a closer alliance with the United States.

Outside observers even believe that he will move further right than Koizumi, and that is not what the CCP wants. Wei said, "The CCP wishes to keep Japan in a weak position, so weak that it will not form an alliance with the United States.{mospagebreak}

"The CCP’s concession is in fact a trap. In the future, if Abe adopts a rightist policy, the CCP can blame Abe for damaging Sino-Japan relations. This will put pressure on Abe. Japanese industry will especially pressure him."

In his public speeches on his recent visit to Japan, Wei related that the CCP is having a fierce internal struggle. People have long lost trust in the CCP. Thus, the CCP smells danger everywhere and is escalating military preparedness to be able to react to unexpected incidents.

According to Wei’s analysis, the CCP would need a war to shift attention from its domestic crisis. He believes three conditions need to be in place for the CCP to invade Taiwan: The first is Russia’s support, the second is a deep division between NATO and the United States, and the third is a weak Japan.

Due to its geographic, economic, and political factors, Japan plays a very critical role in the Korean Peninsula and Taiwan issues. The United States has recently strengthened its military cooperation with Japan and put Taiwan under the protection of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty. In addition, Taiwan’s president Chen Shui-bian recently encouraged a Japanese version of the "Taiwan Relations Act" and called for a United States, Japan, and Taiwan three-way security treaty. Therefore, instead of pushing Japan away, to form an close ally with the other side, the CCP has extended a warm hand to Abe.

"Beijing needs a weak Japan and needs to keep Japan in a more manageable position in case of a military confrontation on the Taiwan issue," Wei said.

Joshua Li is correspondent for Chinascope.