Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Fascinating history of China’s efforts toward a liberal society

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Paul Monk has an article in the Atlantic that is really worth reading:

Speaking in 1988, a leading adviser to then-Chinese premier Zhao Ziyang, Yan Jiaqi, declared that China had inherited a “dragon culture” from its long imperial past. If it was to become a free, cosmopolitan and peaceful society, Yan argued, China had to leave that dragon culture behind it. Yan fled China in 1989, after the Communist Party’s bloody suppression of democracy advocates in Tiananmen Square. He has lived in exile in the United States ever since, but the time has come for the dragon culture to be laid to rest at last. That is the task confronting China’s incoming leaders, Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, in this decade.

Ever since 1989, there has been a running debate outside China about whether or how to press for political reform and human rights in that country. Its economic growth has led many interested parties to brush aside such calls as pointless, superfluous or presumptuous. The Communist Party has rejected them as efforts to weaken China. Since 2008, such rebuffs have even assumed a haughty tone at times, as if the apparently broken Western system of politics and economics had nothing to offer China in conducting its own affairs. In other words, the “dragon culture” remains ideologically ascendant: a political and geopolitical culture of repressive, grim authoritarianism that sees itself as above the law and superior to the barbarians.

But beneath the surface, tensions have been growing relentlessly in China. Early this year, sitting premier Wen Jiabao himself issued a startling warning that China faced a tragic social upheaval on the scale of the Cultural Revolution unless it embarked on serious political reform; astonishing words from the official head of state of a dictatorship that has relentlessly suppressed calls for political liberalization for 23 years. It officially derives legitimacy from Mao’s seizure of power in 1949, but he was the man who caused the Cultural Revolution in the first place, not to mention the “Great Leap Forward” famine in which at least 30 million Chinese starved to death.

The Party magazine Qiushi proclaimed recently that the incoming leadership “must choose between bold political and social reform and driving China into a dead end.” Qiushi means “seeking truth.Seeking truth is always and everywhere an arduous undertaking, especially under Communist dictatorships. But this call should be carefully noted. It means that political reform is on the agenda in China. The question is: after Hu and Wen, what and how?

The Party has created the most formidable system of surveillance and repression in the world. The budget for its internal security apparatus has grown even faster than its ballooning military budget and now totals about $110 billion. This funds the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of State Security, the Ministry of Supervision, the Ministry of Justice, the Central Politics and Law Commission, the sinister 610 Office; the State Internet Information Office, the Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

Yet many responsible voices are pointing to the urgent need for reform. As social scientist Yu Jianrong, in Beijing, has said, in the name of “stability” the party has “suppressed the livelihood of the people, suppressed human rights, suppressed the rule of law, suppressed reform,” but it has “not suppressed corruption, nor has it suppressed mining tragedies, nor has it suppressed illegal property demolitions and seizures.” All it has done, as Chinese scholar Guo Xuezhi points out, is build the “biggest security state in the world.” Now, Seeking Truth declares that this looks like a “dead end.”

Respected liberal economist Mao Yushi remarked recently that the Arab Spring . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 November 2012 at 8:42 am

Posted in Daily life, Government

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