WaPo editorial blasts China’s arrest of “the good doctor”

Dr. Jiang Yanyong, under detention and subjected to brainwashing, is now “the most dangeous man in China” because he is so beloved and trusted by the Chinese people that his treatment could create a serious backlash. So says a Washington Post editorial that sees in this misdeed the grimmest implications.

Dr. Jiang’s detention clearly demonstrates that China’s leaders are in no mood to progress toward political liberalization, as many hoped when a new generation of leaders under President Hu Jintao took power last year. Mr. Hu allowed a time — however brief — of openness that was critical to confront and contain SARS. But his leadership has been complicated by former president Jiang Zemin’s refusal to let go of his enormous influence. The power struggle has created a policymaking dynamic favoring hard-line extremism as the politically “safe” direction. But it is the wrong one. Just ask the relatives of the hundreds of people who died of SARS in 11 countries because China did not face up to the crisis when it first broke out. As Dr. Jiang wrote to the Chinese leadership, “The claim that stability is of overriding importance can in fact cause even greater instability.” China — and the world — should listen.

All true. I still want to believe that Hu wants to be a reformer. I give him no credit, however, for that brief window of openness brought on last spring by the SARS crisis. He simply had no choice; China had been caught red-handed and 10 years of diplomacy and economic reforms were threatened. He did the smart and expedient thing, and as quickly as the openness was announced so was it rescinded. It was okay for a little while to criticize the government. The good doctor went away adored by the public and unpunished by the government — or so it seemed. And now we’ve come full circle.

Thanks to the Washiongton Post for taking the lead with this story and following up on its editorial page. I only hope the other media follow suit. If anything can snap the media out of their typical bored silence in regard to China, it’s this horror story.

The Discussion: No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.