China Daily watch has done it again, blasting a new China Daily article about our favorite topic, building a harmonious society. It’s so good I’m including a juicy excerpt.
“Building a harmonious society’ means different things to different people. To ordinary, poor Chinese, it means ‘stick with us, look how good your lives are going to be.’ To wealthy Chinese, it means ‘don’t rock the boat, and your wealth won’t spill.’ To grass-roots cadres, it means ‘stop screwing around.’ To high-level officials, it means ‘this is the way we our doing things, this is our ambition, and this will be our legacy.”
So vague are the ambitions for the building of social harmony (‘progress’ ‘development’ ‘co-existence’) that on one level it is impossible for the CPC to fail. Inevitably, the economy is going to keep improving, and people’s lives are going to get better. However, there are degrees of progress, and this is where the social harmony movement will be judged to have succeeded or failed.
If the momentum of wealth creation and spread slows, it will fail. If China’s rivers remain polluted, it will fail. If people continue to be wrongfully convicted of crimes at sham courts, it will fail. If people try to have their opinions heard and they continue to be silenced, it will fail.
Why will it fail? It will fail because people will become angry, and when people are angry, harmony cannot result.
My questions to President Hu Jintao is this: If it should come to push versus shove, interests of the People versus interests of the Party, are you man enough to do the right thing?
As to that last question, I think the answer is all too obvious. The CCP tends to do what every organism does, i.e., ensure its own survival. The interests of the party always have and always will over-ride the interests of the people. This is inherent to any one-party system, whether it’s the Qin emperor or Chiang Kai Shek or Mao. I applaud many of the party’s reforms and achievements. But as long as it answers to no one, with no checks, balances or political competition, it will destroy anything that gets in its way, as do all dictatorships. It is a physical, reflexive reaction, like when you shine a flashlight under a rock and all the bugs run out. It’s what the party simply has to do, and posing a question like this to Mr. Hu, while impresive in its rhetoric, is a doomed exercise.
There’s lots more to Charlie’s post, so check it out on his site.
Update: I also enjoyed the same blogger’s earlier post, which I somehow missed, in which he lovingly refers to the CCP as “rotten to the core.”
If you’d begun to think China could sort out its corruption problem, if you’d begun to think there was some separation of politics and administration, if you’d begun to think these leaders cared for the people above the fatness of their wallets and bounds of their power, then think again.
The Communist Party of China is rotten to the core, and I polish their propaganda. In my less selfish moments, it does make me feel uncomfortable. Most of the time I can justify it with the argument that change will first come from within: however, when I see stories like this, I know what wishful thinking that is.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.