China’s ruling Communist Party is an efficient political machine that drives the country’s 1.3 billion people. China has scant regard for the people’s welfare, according to a former top official. Radio Free Asia broadcast a series of essays by the former official.
Bao Tong, former aide to the late ousted premier Zhao Ziyang, said the main hope for political reform now lies with the country’s civil rights movement. He says citizens are increasingly beginning to invoke rights already enshrined in law to protect themselves against abuse. Bao Tong wrapped up his series of essays with this blistering conclusion.
The essays were written for RFA’s Mandarin service, marking the 30th anniversary of China’s economic reforms.
“It is a system engineered to make sure the people are governed by the interests of the Party, engineered so that the Party can drive China’s billion-strong population before it in any direction it chooses,” Bao wrote from his Beijing home, where he has been under house arrest after serving a seven-year jail term in the wake of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.
“It doesn’t matter what the task is; the system is up to the challenge, up to mowing down everything in its path, however fruitful, up to dealing with sudden incidents, up to trying the signatories to Charter 08 in court; there is nothing it can’t handle smoothly,” he said, referring to a recent document signed by more than 300 intellectuals and rights activists which called for political reform.
Of all the grass-roots movements that have happened in the past 10 years, the one most worthy of notice is the civil rights movement
Bao lashed out in an earlier essay at late supreme leader Deng Xiaoping, credited with launching China’s economic reforms in 1978 and lauded in a series of official media features looking back over the last 30 years of economic growth.
Bao also launched a stinging attack on the “terrifying juggernaut” that is China’s one-Party state, saying it is now capable of driving all before it and now acts entirely in its own interests.
The process of reforms was derailed after the 1989 crackdown, Bao said, and is now reformist only in name. China’s chief hope for change still lies with grassroots activists around the country, he said.
“The civil rights movement is extending its influence into every domain: from appeals and complaints about grievances and official wrongdoing, to health and safety, to land and property rights, to the right to religious freedom, to the right to ethnic autonomy, to the right to supervise those in power, and the right to self-expression and to vote,” Bao said.
“[This is] a phenomenon which is both unstoppable and impossible to hide.”
Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.