Posted by: mulrickillion | February 4, 2012

China’s Remnant Liberals Keep Flame of Liberalization Alive


Hu Deping, son of reformer Hu Yaobang, Lecturing on Politics.

By Willy Lam, China Brief, Vol. 12, Iss. 3, 2012 —

China seems to have entered deep winter as far as political reform and human rights are concerned. While the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership seems to have pulled out all the stops to stifle dissent, intellectuals both inside and outside the party still are pushing the ideal of liberalization. In a recent article in the party theoretical journal Seeking Truth, CCP General Secretary Hu Jintao reiterated the imperative to “unshakably going down the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics”—and staying away from the deviant path of Western-style political norms. “Enemy forces in the international arena are stepping up conspiracies to Westernize and divide us,” he wrote, adding that the party must “forever ring the alarm bell” against “infiltration from the West” (Qiushi, January 1). In the past two months, three dissidents known for their Internet articles about non-violent political liberalization—Chen Wei, Chen Xi and Li Tie—were given sentences of nine or ten years for “inciting subversion of state power” (New York Times, January 20; Ming Pao [Hong Kong], January 20).

Last month, Yu Jie, an internationally known writer and moderate reformist renowned for his advocacy of universal values such as civil and democratic rights, was forced to leave the country after having been subjected to torture in jail. In an article released upon his arrival in the United States, Yu quoted one of his jailers as saying “As far as we, the state security [department], can tell, there are no more than 200 intellectuals in the country who oppose the Communist Party and are influential.” “If the central authorities think that their rule is facing a crisis, they can capture them all in one night and bury them alive,” the security agent warned (Human Rights in China, January 18; Los Angeles Times, January 18). Is it true that just a few hundred from China’s academic and intellectual circles are challenging the CCP with their advocacy of ideas deemed dangerous and subversive by President Hu?

It is a well-accepted fact that after the Tiananmen Square crackdown—and the demise of icons such as former CCP general secretaries Hu Yaobang (1915-1989) and Zhao Ziyang (1919-2005)—the influence of reformist intellectuals has been on the wane. Yet it is significant that remnant liberals both in and out of the party have in the past several months staged a vigorous campaign to hold aloft the flickering flame of reform. A handful of organizations somehow tolerated by the authorities, such as the Hu Yaobang Historical Data Web, and two semi-official journals, the China Economic Structure Reform Monthly and the Economic Observer, have organized several “salons” to discuss new directions for political reform. . . .

The Jamestown Foundation: China’s Remnant Liberals Keep Flame of Liberalization Alive


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