Saturday, July 26, 2014

'Why I Want Xi Jinping's Political Reforms To Fail'

Members of the New Citizens Movement hold banners in public, urging officials to disclose their assets as a check against corruption, in Beijing in a file photo. EYEPRESS NEWS
RFA - July 25, 2014
A commentary by Wei Jingsheng

Yanhuang Chunqiu magazine had an article recently about fighting corruption, which set out simply how the U.S. went about it back in the day, about how no heads rolled, and yet corruption went away, and we reached the smooth seas and calm winds of a clean political system.

Overall, this article's description of the U.S. clean-up of political life is correct. In particular, it emphasizes the part played by an independent media, which we could say is now a consensus among the elite inside China. A lot of people have really put their hopes and trust in the media, and have been cheering them on consistently.

But the Chinese media still seem to be a long way from the mark.

Social media in China can't compare with U.S. newspapers which had a history of 200 years.

Why is this? Are Chinese people inferior, ignorant? I'm sure that the Americans of 200 years ago were less educated than the Chinese of today.

So what is that reason? The thing that's getting people talking the most is the issue of selectively fighting corruption. In other words, the use of anti-corruption to attack political opponents, and to favor political allies, and how it doesn't have the slightest deterrent effect.

As in ancient times, the more you fight corruption in this way, the more corrupt the system becomes. You can't clean up for more than a few days at a time.

So how come the U.S. was able to make a simple job of cleaning up graft, and China isn't? The author of the article, like the elite of China, won't talk about the real reason.

Glossed over the most crucial point

The way he describes the details of U.S. anti-graft laws, you'd think that laws automatically began to take effect the moment they were passed. And he's glossed over the most crucial point: whether or not laws can be implemented.

So why couldn't China crack corruption in ancient times? We had more laws than the Americans, and heads really could, and did, roll. But was it effective? No, it wasn't. 

In those days, not even the Grand Secretary and the Prime Minister could get away with murder: these days, no-one can bring to justice anyone in the Politburo Standing Committee, or the party elders. We are in a worse state than our imperial ancestors, let alone the U.S.

The Chinese media doesn't speak out, because it wouldn't do any good, while the U.S. media became a partner in the fight against graft.

The biggest difference [between China and the U.S.] is that China is run by a group of bureaucrats and politicians, with no political opposition or parties. There is no democracy.

Take China's so-called opposition parties, which are just there for show. You could call them coalition partners. Is there any among them that dares to expose corrupt officials? And even if they did, the official would just be replaced by another from the same party. Don't mess with what doesn't concern you.

So we see that the minority must adhere to the principle of accepting retaliation; most of the elite are eloquently evasive, fanning the clouds of mist and fog.

When the wolf really does come

And, wreathed as they are in smog, ordinary people have this feeling that they are being cheated; that they have been cheated many times.

So when the wolf really does come, they don't believe it.

I don't believe that [President] Xi Jinping or [disciplinary chief] Wang Qishan aren't serious about fighting corruption.

The emperors made a genuine attempt to fight it, too, just like the [ruling] Chinese Communist Party today. They know it will bring down the party and the country if they don't.

Under a democratic system, you have the protection of a fair legal system. Under a single-party dictatorship, the officials all protect each other and 'supervise' each other in their lawlessness.

Anything under the aegis of this system naturally gets remade in its image, a caricature of itself, like a donkey pretending to be a horse.

Democratic systems aren't perfect all of the time. But without them, you get a system that doesn't even function some of the time.

People of insight in China know better than we do that absolute power corrupts absolutely. It's too bad that they're not free to speak their minds.

I hope that Xi Jinping's political reforms fail, because the solution to this problem lies in the establishment of a democratic regime, which can only be achieved through revolution.

Translated by Luisetta Mudie.

Wei Jingsheng is a U.S.-based veteran democracy activist who has served a total of 18 years in Chinese prisons for "counterrevolutionary" activities.

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