China’s Politics in 2007 – Liang Jing (梁京)

Overseas Chinese political analyst wrote a new commentary piece on politics in 2007, translated by David Kelly of East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore:

As 2007 draws to a close, which political developments will have major future impact? In my view, the dramatic decline of the influence of Hu and Wen topped the list. In particular, not only outside observers, but high-level insiders as well, were quite nonplussed by Hu’s sudden comprehensive compromise with the princelings in the run-up to the 17th National Party Congress.

Interpreting this development is key in judging China’s future political scene. One explanation is that Hu could not win against Jiang, and could do little but admit defeat. I am more inclined to think that Hu Jintao, making a correct self-assessment, retreated from difficult ies, and accepted Zeng Qinghong’s proposed “Republican governance”. The tacit implication of this arrangement is that the incompetence of Hu Jintao and the Party School faction can longer be hidden. If the princeling forces represented by Zeng Qinghong stand idly by, they will all perish together.

“Republican governance” is clearly a product of the factional forces “considering the overall situation” at the last minute. So no one was prepared. The emergence of the “Republican gover n ance” situation not only means that the well-intentioned but incapable “Hu and Wen New deal” may after five years die a natural death, but also that China has entered a new power transition period that is even more full of variables. All the major personnel arrangements were accurately “leaked” overseas prior to the convocation of the 17th National Party Congress, but Hu Jintao did not dare pursue this. This fact indicates that there is a danger of a power vacuum occurring in China — whoever’s word goes, without having to take responsibility.

In order to expand the space for thinking and expression, in 2007 China’s intellectuals in various media kept up a tough game with the authorities, and had new breakthroughs in restoring disseminating historical truth. In a widely disseminated online article on the truth of the October Revolution, Jin Yan signaled the systematic liquidation at last of myths and historical lies which have influenced several generations of Chinese people. Many people read for the first time severely criticisms of the October Revolution and Lenin by stormy petrels of the communist movement like Rosa Luxembourg and Plekhanov. The critical peak of reflection and critique of the October Revolution was the publication of Chen Duxiu’s criticism of Stalin of the Soviet Union in Nanfang Zhoumo on December 6. The article was entitled “Events: Chen Duxiu’s ‘final opinion’,” which was widely reproduced online as soon as it appeared. [2] Below a huge photo of Chen Duxiu was this quotation: “After the 1936 Moscow trials, Chen Duxiu developed doubts about the nature of the Soviet state: ‘Given this lack of , what kind of workers’ state is this?’

The central authorities’ loss of control of local governments and grassroots society reached a new scale and level China in 2007. On November 20, a vice minister of Public Security led thousands of armed police in suddenly arresting leaders of the Yangjiang triad.[3]. Choosing this time was obviously just to save face for the outgoing Guangdong Party Secretary Zhang Dejiang. Zhang Dejiang, like many big regional bureaucrats, with the support of Jiang and Hu, has in recent years focused the state machinery on suppressing popular citizen rights defenders like Guo Feixiong. The result has been to greatly encourage the rampancy of the triads. Officials and crooks in Yangjiang County were one big happy family numbering as many as 30,000, forcing the central authorities to stealing a march and launch engage a surprise attack. On December 10, Beijing gave notice of 10 cases of illegal land use cases in the cities of Kaiping and Heshan in Guangdong. Kaiping City Party Secretary Zhao Ruizhang and former mayor Shi Zhaoping were purged. And the recent deaths of 105 people in a mine at Hongtong, Shanxi, was yet another tragedy caused by local forces opposing central government decrees. Of course, only the tip of the iceberg is shown in these incidents.

The biggest winner in 2007 China’s politics was undoubtedly Zeng Qinghong. Zeng not only survived, but also to help achieve the dream of a number of senior cadres 40 years ago of “passing the revolution on to our children.” Now, Zeng Qinghong is not only the natural head of the , but, with the further decline in Hu Jintao’s influence, he may even potentially rule from behind the screen. History has thus handed to Zeng Qinghong an opportunity denied to Hu Jintao, of liquidating the CPC’s revolution and tyranny and achieving national reconciliation. I would argue that Zeng Qinghong must contemplate this possibility, but he understands better how close this is to suicide. So in 2007 history may begin to lead China to a situation where a red aristocracy with no capacity for self-salvation rises to meet head on a raging tide of liquidation which has accumulated enormous historical energy. This is the long shadow 2007 casts on China’s political future.

* 2007 的中国政治

[2] For instance by Xinhua: see http://news.xinhuanet.com/newscenter/2007-12/07/content_7213656.htm .

[3] See report at http://www.china.org.cn/english/government/234232.htm.

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