Bao Tong remembers Zhao Ziyang

Eulogies in English and Mandarin, a very decent essay by Zhao’s Secretary Bao Tong, and other interesting stuff.

From Bao’s essay:

Since then, some people have got even wiser, saying it’s much better just to forget him, rather than to denounce him. To forget that Zhao was the driving force behind the economic reform program, that he created the blueprint for political reform, that he was a guardian of democracy and the rule of law, and that he was the only leader in the history of China’s Communist Party who dared to honestly stand up for his own ideas in the face of the the immense power of the Party.

The Party’s renewed detentions and sentencing of political dissidents, its tight control over and stifling of news media and publishing houses, has already become a core component of “suppressing everything in the name of stability,” I fear.

So the Three Represents finally came up with a policy: Erase history! Wipe out Zhao Ziyang’s name! Because when absolute power lost its reason, it was Zhao Ziyang who sounded the warning bell for the nation.

It’s not the name that matters so much. What matters is the fate of reason and democracy in China. Zhao Ziyang has already sacrificed everything for these things, his last and final wish.

I understand Zhao Ziyang. Highly aware, liberal minded, an elder truly worthy of respect, now nearly 85 years old, and incarcerated among the alleyways of the capital.

The Three Represents makes me scared, uneasy, the way it is hell-bent on rubbing away the last traces of Zhao’s name from the minds of Chinese people. It’s all so carefully calculated, and yet they are standing in the way of 1.4 billion people who are striding along the road towards a society based on modern democracy and the rule of law.

Respect for human rights has already been enshrined in China’s constitution. But since March 10, 2004, in a mockery of the constitution, someone (I expect on behalf of China’s leaders) has taken away my right to use the telephone or go on the Internet, making it impossible for the media to interview me.

Oh, stop whinging. Haven’t you heard? They’re reforming. And everyone knows, democracy isn’t right for China anyway.

Update: Bao’s obituary of Zhao is here.

The Discussion: 8 Comments

“It’s all so carefully calculated, and yet they are standing in the way of 1.4 billion people who are striding along the road towards a society based on modern democracy and the rule of law.”

Well, he may be a little optimistic there, but I think we can take heart from Chinese history. When the people got sick of the Yuan Dynasty’s corruption and decadence, they overthrew it and replaced it with the Ming. Did the same to the Qing, the Japanese invaders and the Republic.

Seems to me that the more intelligent leaders in the CCP are well aware of this, hence the crackdowns on both dissent and corruption. They seem to be trying to keep the country stable long enough and their hold on power firm enough to push through their reforms, which should eventually end with proper democratisation (with Chinese characteristics, of course).

Now, I’m not saying I agree with their methods at all, and I’m not even sure that some form of democracy is the end goal. I definitely prefer the Western method of dealing with dissenters by laughing at them and thereby marginalising them, you know: “Hey look, there goes that loser Michael Moore, what a dickhead! Hahaha! Get a real job! Hahaha!”. But for the time being we’re stuck with the Party and it’s insistence on breaking eggs to make its omelette.

So don’t stop whinging. There are worse people in the Party than those currently in power. If people stop whinging, things might stop reforming.

February 1, 2005 @ 8:03 pm | Comment

So they’re cracking dissent to prepare democratisation…
What a wonderful theory! 55 years of crackdown to prepare democracy… How didn’t I get it?

I hope that all this trust in CCP is only naivety. But in any case reality rejection is always a problem.

February 2, 2005 @ 1:38 pm | Comment

Bao Tong IS a whiner and I think its pretty clear to most that he stopped representing the thoughts of Zhao Ziyang long ago. The idea that the Three Represents has anything to do with Zhao is truly ludicrous, especially as it was only ever paid lip service by leaders outside of Jiang Zemin and today it rarely comes up (even less than it did when Jiang was in power).

February 2, 2005 @ 2:39 pm | Comment

You may well be right about Bao not representing Zhao anymore, but I’ve seen frequent references to the Three Represents in many articles over the past few years, including after Jiang left.

February 2, 2005 @ 2:42 pm | Comment

I would have to concur that Three Represents is everywhere. It is mentioned in English language media, but even more in Chinese language media. I see it mentioned at least every night in the 7 o’clock “xinwen lianbo.” Go to a bookstore and open up a book, buy a newspaper on the street and open it up, and this “important thought” will be looking back at you.
Now, of course, that does not change the fact that no one really knows what they are talking about when you say three represents. Ask most people what it means, and you will get a confused answer followed by “I’m not quite sure.” It’s hot air philosophy, and, in my opinion, a very complex way for the leaders to claim to be doing something simple which they are not in fact doing, representing “the people.” A pretty cover on corrupt government-business collusion.
Sorry to be so down on the three represents, but it is something I have been thinking about a lot these last few years… you finally just realize that it really isn’t worth thinking much about.

February 2, 2005 @ 7:07 pm | Comment

News just in about a Taiwan businessman using a FETUS to make soup on the mainland. This is from a mainland Website, I guess there was a video of the grisly deed.

Could this be a plot by BJ to establish grounds for invading Taiwan to “liberate” it people from people eaters (I wonder if he was purple) and other unsavory characters? LOL

February 3, 2005 @ 10:54 pm | Comment

“News just in about a Taiwan businessman using a FETUS to make soup on the mainland. ”

A fetus soup? Those 3 words make me want to vomit. It is soo sick.

February 4, 2005 @ 5:16 am | Comment

i feel like this document is one of the most powerful and moving documents i have read in quite a while.
too bad i can’t open websites with the original chinese on my computer, i’d print it out and hand it out.

February 5, 2005 @ 7:29 pm | Comment

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