Communist Party elders call for free speech. Seriously.

I don’t expect this to get very far, but you really do have to read it.

On October 11, 23 Chinese Communist Party elders known for their pro-reform positions, including Mao Zedong’s former secretary Li Rui (李锐) and former People’s Daily editor-in-chief Hu Jiwei (胡绩伟), submitted an open letter to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, formally China’s highest state body, calling for an end to restrictions on expression in China.

The letter urges the Communist Party to abolish censorship and realize citizens’ right to freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Seizing on the opportunity afforded by the awarding of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) with the Nobel Peace Prize last week, the letter refers explicitly to prior statements on reform and free speech made by both President Hu Jintao (胡锦涛) and Premier Wen Jiabao (温家宝).

You can read the entire translated letter at the link above. I think this takes the wind out of the sails of those who’re been chirping that Liu Xiaobo’s winning the Nobel Peace Prize wouldn’t have any effect in China. These people are almost as annoying as those chirping that Liu Xiaobo is an American agent because he’s supported by the NED, a claim that is patently absurd. Just because someone gives you some money doesn’t make you their spy or agent. Lots of US NGO’s give money to the Dalai Lama, and he is still an outspoken and self-avowed Marxist. The fenqing have their long knives out for Liu and will grasp at any straws they can. For some interesting debates about this see the comments to this post and this post. Our friend pugster is really banging the NED drum on both threads, and probably others as well. 50 mao here, 50 mao there.

Meanwhile, I strongly recommend that no one hold their breath while waiting for censorship in China to go away. But it’s encouraging to see Liu’s prize embolden others who want to make China and its government freer, more transparent and more accountable.

The Discussion: 164 Comments

Although fengqing and 5-mao may be derogatory, there is a better name for those people – naocan (NC), literally brain dead, a buzzword popular on Chinese websites for quite some time.

October 17, 2010 @ 3:29 pm | Comment

fancy, what can I say – I’m a terrible person. But you’re totally wrong. Serve the People and I disagree on lots of things but I never call him a 50-center. Because he’s not. He’s not here to derail or takeover threads. I use the term only for a distinct type of commenter. If you don’t like it, no one forces you to read my posts.

October 18, 2010 @ 12:06 am | Comment

To Sp #149:
one really can’t emphasize your point enough. “pro-CCP”, “pro-China”, and “pro-Chinese people” are not interchangeable concepts. One can certainly be a proponent of the latter 2 things while being patently repulsed by the first one. Similarly, those who espouse the first concept should not confuse that with the others, their vocal protestations notwithstanding.

October 18, 2010 @ 6:00 am | Comment

Amen to that, SP and SK.

October 18, 2010 @ 6:29 am | Comment

@SK and Richard
It is as if some screaming supporter of Bush is claiming that their views are “Pro-American” when it is actually Pro-Dubya.

October 18, 2010 @ 12:13 pm | Comment

@ Nicholas M. 27. Benedict Anderson. Good one. The digital age simply supercharges the literate community identity process.

Suggested to pug_ster on numerous occasions that he might dip into this text, as it helps explain why the Tibetans are not so keen on their Han overlords, now that they have acquired a modicum of education, but it was a waste of keyboard activity.The reward. Just another dreary tape loop on CIA meddling in the 1950s.

October 18, 2010 @ 2:09 pm | Comment

freedom of speech = good
liu xiao bo = a very brave man china would be worse off not having
liu xiao bo receiving the nobel prize = really not the best decision. if as so many called out that the nobel comittee wanted to help freedom of speech and civil rights spread in china it should have given it to a person who has achieved more in the gaining of rights in china. people who maybe don’t shout out so loud, but get things in motion and maybe even done. all the chinese dissidents supported by western countries are failures in what they wanted to achieve. they might have tried but the sole outcome is theirs banging their heads against the (ccp = chinese censor party) wall. thats why for me an overseas chinese, all this seems to be more just accusing and pointing the finger as really helping. instead of encouraging a politician within the chinese political system who tries to bring needed amendments, all this action will only generate more dissidents. i dont mean that the ccp is right in saying liu or other dissidents are breaking the law, but with this heads on tactic you will get an equally stupid and unnecessary response.
all these actions to me seem not aimed at building a brighter future for the chinese people but at instant satisfaction of local masses (might it be to distract from internal problems within their own countries) and having a nice little scapegoat for all the problems…
so people can point at you and say you dude dont have rights in china…. but chinese people deserve rights that the bad government doesnt give them. but you person who now stands before me are bad. ??? its so weird that most chinese people just get the hibiiiijiiibiiis. saying two totally different things in one statement. in some case this childish accusing only prolongs the troubles in china. i just hope beijing at sometime just shuts out this nonsense chatter and keeps on going its way with even bigger steps.
but in any case western cases will highjack the final outcome in chinese liberalisation and label it as theirs…. guess thats called “practizing moralistic behaviour”

October 19, 2010 @ 7:44 am | Comment

SK Cheung
one really can’t emphasize your point enough. “pro-CCP”, “pro-China”, and “pro-Chinese people” are not interchangeable concepts.

They often are, because a total collapse of the current government would benefit no one but the West, and not the huggable, pot-smoking progressives, either.

November 3, 2010 @ 6:40 am | Comment

Here we go again. Making the CCP scarce “would benefit no one but the West”. Well, if Chinese people truly felt that they had nothing to gain from replacing the CCP, then I imagine they wouldn’t bother, even if given the choice and the opportunity. But the point is to give them said choice and opportunity. After all, they would know better than me. And if you don’t live in China, then they’d know better than you as well.

November 3, 2010 @ 7:23 am | Comment

as it helps explain why the Tibetans are not so keen on their Han overlords

Thank you for representing the voice of every single Tibetan man, woman, and child. I don’t think they could have done it themselves. Sometimes these colored people need a strong, guiding hand. Just not a Chinese one of course.

November 3, 2010 @ 7:24 am | Comment

SK Cheung
Well, if Chinese people truly felt that they had nothing to gain from replacing the CCP, then I imagine they wouldn’t bother, even if given the choice and the opportunity. But the point is to give them said choice and opportunity.

You’re dreaming. Just for fun, how do you envision such a sequence of events taking place? That is the CCP voluntarily stepping down or issuing such a plebiscite?

Here are some historical precedents of fully autonomous authoritarian powers willingly handing over their power to the public, in case you need some help:

November 3, 2010 @ 7:27 am | Comment

Sorry, the list:

There you have it.

November 3, 2010 @ 7:27 am | Comment

Well wait a sec.
In 160, you object to somebody speaking on behalf of Tibetans. I’m with you there. I too think Tibetans should speak for themselves.

But in 161, you seem less keen on Chinese speaking on behalf of themselves. How do you reconcile the diametrically opposite logic issued in a span of 3 minutes?

I agree with your list. Your list adequately captures the litany of problems with authoritarian governments. They don’t represent their people. There’s no mechanism for their peaceful removal. Their main goal is to benefit themselves, and if their people benefit from time to time, so be it. This list, unlike yours, could go on for some time. Besides, it’s not for me to “envision” how to replace the CCP. Hopefully, someone within China will come up with that solution, if there is a perceived need.

November 3, 2010 @ 7:43 am | Comment

Someone called me 5 mao as long as I make the comments that they think is pro China. In fact I don’t receive any money from anyone. I wonder where this “5 mao” comes from if any. Can someone provide me with the evident of any true 5 mao out there?

February 13, 2011 @ 7:59 am | Comment

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