The secret manuscript behind Ching’s arrest

No wonder the CCP was so nervous about Ching Cheong getting hold of these documents. What a bombshell.

A SECRET manuscript Beijing is desperately trying to stop from being published outlines purged leader Zhao Ziyang’s plea for China to abandon one-party rule and follow the path of democracy.

It also airs Mr Zhao’s opinion the government blundered in its crackdown on the 1989 democracy protests that led to hundreds, if not thousands, of citizens being killed, the author says.

The sensitive manuscript is now at the centre of the arrest of Hong Kong-based Singapore Straits Times reporter Ching Cheong.

He was detained while trying to obtain a copy of the manuscript that has yet to make its way out of mainland China.

China on Tuesday said Mr Ching was arrested for spying and had confessed.

Its authorities have pressured author Zong Fengming, an old friend of Mr Zhao’s, not to publish the book.

The 85-year-old, who compiled the manuscript from conversations he had with Mr Zhao while he was under house arrest, said what makes it so threatening to Beijing is the late Mr Zhao’s belief China must have democracy in order to prosper, and economic reforms are simply not enough.

“He said China’s development must be on the path of democracy and rule of law. If not, China will be a corrupt society,” Mr Zong said.

And he was copmpletely right.

The Discussion: 20 Comments

sorry, this story has been completely outgrown right now several generations of other stories.

the second most current version deals with the fact that he had been written under another name on the Sino-Russian border negotiations, and obtained and published secret information.

the most current version is based upon an open letter to hu jintao from his wife (sorry, it just went out; no english reports yet), and this is tied in with the social scientists that were just arrested. ching was assisting the social scientists to study the political atmosphere in hong kong. according to the wife, the social scientist wrote a report that eventually drove china towards taking a pragmatic approach to hong kong and accept that donald tsang could become the new chief executive (even though he does not pass the political loyalty test). during the process, ching might have accessed some internal conversations among the chinese leaders.

that is it so far. there may be another completely new version tomorrow.

June 2, 2005 @ 8:22 pm | Comment

eswn, I certainly believe you — I just can’t find anything about it (yet). This is one of the latest stories to come out in English — when you see a link to the new developments you describe, please post them in my comments. Thanks a lot.

June 2, 2005 @ 8:49 pm | Comment

If this report is close to being correct it would show just how stupid the CCP is to try to hide all things, whether truly secrets or damaging to its image, or not. Now everyone in the world with an interest in China will be looking for this information and be able to blowi t into some big deal. If however, the CCP merely dealt with Zhao’s opinion openly and addressed it years ago or even now probably not much would be made of it.

June 2, 2005 @ 10:38 pm | Comment

In fact Lu jianhua, the newly arrested researcher, was selected as one of the “ten best young men” in 1996 by Beijing government. Before he was arrested, he was associate director of center of public policy at Chinese academy of social science.
The next link
reveals that Ching and Lu has known each other for a long time. There’s a huge amount of hyperlinks left if you want trace back what Lu has written or spoken by googling his name in chinese. Seemingly Dr. Lu is a rather high profile social scientist in China.

June 2, 2005 @ 11:21 pm | Comment

The June 4th roundup (updated)

The approach of June 4 means it’s that time of year: arrest time. First it was Ching Cheong. Now Reuters is reporting the arrest of members of the Chinese Acadamey of Social Sciences, one of the country’s top think-tanks. As usual, no one is quite sure…

June 3, 2005 @ 12:13 am | Comment

Do any of you remember Qiao Shi? He was, and I forget his precise title, in charge of internal security and then became head of the National Peoples’ Congress before Jiang. One of those interesting former secret police guys who ends up becoming a reformer. I vividly recall an interview he gave to Nathan Gardels (sp?) of New Perspectives Quarterly in which he stresses the primacy of the rule of law and how even the CCP must submit to this. When Jiang became Premier, he was forced to retire (in an earlier age, we would have said he was purged). This factionalization in the CCP is not new, nor is this debate about reform. What continues to confound me is the degree of paranoia and the fear of open debate. At some point, you would think this fear and repression will come into direct conflict with the desire to modernize and create the next economic and cultural superpower. Though I think there are a lot of different ways to succeed, it’s hard for me to envision a modern, innovative society that stifles public debate.

But maybe I’m naive.

June 3, 2005 @ 1:22 am | Comment

According to Cheong’s wife, security person found Hu’s internal talk on Cheong’s computer.

The fundamental reason for Hu/Wen’s insecurity is that, the political base for CCP was peasant and labor; and despite economic growth, the support from this base has been significantly eroded.

To maintain economic growth, CCP has to adopt right-leaning econimc policy, which means that the support from its political base will be further eroded.

June 3, 2005 @ 2:11 am | Comment

Simon has a reuters article at:

June 3, 2005 @ 3:13 am | Comment

SCMP story of Ching’s wife’s letter to Hu

Story by William Foreman of Associated Press, so you may be able to find a non-reg required version at yahoo or google.

June 3, 2005 @ 4:34 am | Comment

Latest Twist In Ching Cheong Case

This afternoon SCMP carries a piece by William Foreman of AP on the latest twist in the Ching Cheong case.
The reporter, Ching Cheong, was detained in April after security officials found notes detailing the leaders’ classified remarks in the journali

June 3, 2005 @ 5:15 am | Comment

Other Lisa,

This is just my impression, and so probably inaccurate, but I get the feeling that the CCP doesn’t want an open debate (as we’d get in the UK parliament etc.) until they feel ready. This says to me that the government policy is basically that open debate is an end, and not a means to an end. Or, more accurately, it is an end result that will then be a means to an end, but can’t be used as a means to that ultimate end result, from china’s current state of affairs. sorry if this is confusing.

June 3, 2005 @ 8:58 am | Comment


Here’s another little update on the issue.

June 3, 2005 @ 9:16 am | Comment

In the cobwebbed recesses of my brain, I recall the concept of “democratic centralism,” which in Marxist terms means “the freedom of members of the political party to discuss and debate matters of policy and direction, but once the decision of the party is made by majority vote, all members are expected to follow that decision unquestioningly in public.”

Seen in this context, the crackdown on discussion indicates to me that the CCP is in a highly factionalized state, that holding this consensus – the “centralism” part – is becoming increasingly difficult. The various conflicts we’ve seen between central and local governments would tend to support this as well.

June 3, 2005 @ 11:32 am | Comment

Precisely. And Hu is incredibly vulnerable to being painted by the Shanghai gang and/or neo-leftists as a Gorbachev. So he goes along with Liu Yunshan and his cronies in the Propaganda Dept, and he turns off his political reform plans, etc so as to avoid the fate of the two previous reformist general secretaries (Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang). The one thing Hu was famous for before becoming general secretary was never making a political mistake, how else would someone annointed a decade before actually survive to become general secretary? So Hu needs to get through this period until the 17th party congress when he can make an attempt to root out the Shanghai gang et al and then he has until 2012 to show us what he has got.

June 3, 2005 @ 8:18 pm | Comment

Dylan, this very much goes along with a commenter I had on my blog earlier regarding the translated Taiwan democracy article in Chinese Youth Daily. Thanks for the insight.

June 3, 2005 @ 9:50 pm | Comment

I feel similarly about Hu, although a mainland friend of mine points to Tibet as a reason for doubt over Hu’s real progressive bent. I wrote my thoughts at

Dylan – when is the 17th congress? Sorry, I’m not up on the dates.

June 4, 2005 @ 5:56 pm | Comment

I’m curious about Wen. I don’t know very much about him. But I keep thinking of the famous photo of him with ZZY and I have to wonder if some of the sensitivity about Zong’s interviews with ZZY might have something to do with that connection…

June 4, 2005 @ 8:57 pm | Comment

Maybe, but Wen was Director of the General Office in 1989. It was his job to be the general secretary’s shadow. He had no decision-making role.

17th Party Congress should be at the end of 2007.

June 5, 2005 @ 1:50 am | Comment

I have high respect for Wen and always found his outreach to China’s disenfranchised to be sincere and impassioned. But one never knows; everyone thought Zhou Enlai was benevolent and magnanimous, and more recent research indicates he may have been no suich thing. Meanwhile, I look at what Wen is trying to do and I feel a glimmer of hope.

As for Dylan’s theories about Hu, they may be right-on. But honestly, they seem just a bit too tidy to me. I heard the same conjectures about the Shanghai gang after Hu assumed power, and that was all going to change once Jiang stepped down. That happened, but little changed. I am extremely skeptical that there’s going to come a moment when Hu shifts from being the draconian dictator cracking down on free speech to the knight in shining armor ushering in the long-awaited reforms.

June 5, 2005 @ 10:17 am | Comment

Richard, which recent Zhou Enlai research are you referring to? I’ve heard some stuff on the special case exam group, but not as much as I’d like.

June 5, 2005 @ 12:07 pm | Comment

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