Wei Jingsheng Foundation News and Article Release Issue: A519-W299



Release Date: January 7, 2010



Topic: To Talk about Past and Future Around the Fireplace -- Wei Jingsheng

标题:围炉夜谈过去和将来-- 魏京生


Original Language Version: Chinese (Chinese version at the end)



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To Talk about Past and Future Around the Fireplace

-- Wei Jingsheng



Here comes a new year.  We have watched the New Year fireworks, as well as had our new year's eve dinner.  Now we sit down together around the fireplace to talk late into the night.  The topics are about what happened in the past year, as well as what might happen in the coming year.  The people who care about their businesses talk about businesses.  The people who care about art talk about art.  I care most about China's politics and its future, so I shall chat about the political past and future of China.


Last year's political circumstances maintained the development trend of the previous a few years in China.  The Chinese people's dissatisfaction of that reality maintained its trend of steady uprising.  The economic situation in China continuously deteriorated.  The corruption of the Chinese officials continuously developed, and thus the Chinese people's defense of their own rights and opposition to the tyranny continuously rose.  The relative difference is that the scale of the group opposition against the tyranny continuously expanded, with a developing trend of conflict between the ethnic groups.


Some observers notice a phenomena that is different than the past - behind the group opposition against the tyranny, there are shadows coming from the internal fights within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).  To use people's dissatisfaction or people's movement for the internal fight of the Chinese Communist party, is not a common approach within the CCP.  But it has been a way for the CCP to induce large-scale turmoil.  The "Cultural Revolution" and the "June 4 Event" are the most typical cases among them.


The old Chinese teaching says: the overturned carriage ahead of us is the lesson and experience for the carriages behind.  Both the Cultural Revolution and June 4 used the dissatisfaction of the Chinese people to initiate a movement.  One initiator ended with a victory, while the other one ended with a failure.  What do they have in common and in difference?  Let us have some analysis.


What was common between these two was that the initiators were both from the highest level of the power structure, but were in the position of losing their power.  Mao ZeDong was the highest leader before the Cultural Revolution, yet he had lost his power.  So with backing by Lin Biao who controlled the military and with a group of hired writers as a vanguard, Mao initiated a movement to grab the power in the name of the Cultural Revolution.  From the very beginning, Mao had clearly defined the criminal charges against the others and knew his goals.  With his own high prestige, his enemy had no strength to fight back, so Mao resolved his adversary easily.


Yet, as soon as the Pandora's Box of the Chinese people's dissatisfaction was open, it was hard to stabilize the situation.  Despite Mao's status of the living god of the time, he could not solve these problems completely even with 8 years of time.  As soon as Mao died, Deng XiaoPing restored his own order.  From the politics to faction, Mao failed completely, despite that he seemed to have won big at the beginning.


The June 4 Event in 1989 is somehow different.  Zhao Ziyang had the support of the highest level generals in the Chinese army.  But most of these generals were also under Deng's command for a long time.  They dared to support Zhao, but did not dare to rise against Deng.  So they were really in the middle, instead of in true support to Zhao.  The intellectuals on Zhao's side raised well defined criminal charges: anti-corruption.  That action received agreement within China, but these intellectuals did not provide a clear goal.  


As soon as the Chinese people requested an overthrow of the regime for new leadership, all these people exited collectively.  This type of Western gentlemen's protest had chosen the wrong target in a wrong circumstance.  In that either you die or I die circumstance of the autocratic politics, it could only end with failure.


By learning from the history of the Cultural Revolution and June 4 of 1989, we should be able to understand the CCP politics last year.  Why did they treat the possible vice chairmanship of Xi JinPing to such an importance?  The struggle was fierce enough to the degree that if Xi did not voluntarily step away, it might have induced a political coup.  There was news that some people who held the real power threatened to initiate a military coup if this vice chairmanship issue was not nullified.  The person who threatened is still occupying the position that is enough to initiate a military coup.  This exactly proves that to initiate the political coup is the intention of the highest authority.


Why did the highest leader, Hu Jintao, care so much about this vice chairmanship of the military?  That was because in the previous two major political coups, the attitudes of both vice chairmen Lin Biao and Hong Xuezhi were of key element.  Both Lin and Hong were in the similar position as Xi; they all had in depth personal relationships with the military, yet were effectively the highest commanders.  Their very existence was one of the most important conditions to determine the success of a political coup.


The support of the people has been another important condition to determine the successfulness by the Chinese political culture.  The reason that Mao Zedong had a victory and then failure was mainly determined by the popular will.  The third important condition is the trial of strength of ability and determination of the leaders on both sides.  Both Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping were short of ability and determination in comparison to Mao.  After the movement started, they lost battles after the first encounter.  Even when they admitted defeat, it was not accepted by Mao.  After all, it was not a simple competition, but a battlefield that determined the survivor.


Zhao Ziyang had even less skill.  He was not skilled in either Oriental culture or Western culture, and thus lost the game that should have been won.  It made Deng's fraction so happy, that for a while they could not even locate a suitable successor.  The fundamental reason that Zhao lost is that he did not dare to say what he wanted, not to mention what the people wanted.  This was like playing a chess game, without knowing where the king is.  How could he not lose the battle?


Since June 4, 1989, the Chinese people's goals are getting more clear, that is democracy and freedom.  Who ever would let the people to have these ideals, the people will support.  This support is more important that the power of the vice chairmanship of the military committee.  In the next round of internal fighting within the CCP, whoever could give the people what they want will have the upper hand.  The weight of the vice chairmanship of the military, even with the determination and ability together, is less of that the popular will of the Chinese people.


This is one of my predictions for future China.  



To hear Mr. Wei Jingsheng's commentary, please visit:



(Written and recorded on January 1, 2010.  Broadcasted by Radio Free Asia.)



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Wei Jingsheng Foundation News and Article Release Issue: A519-W299



Release Date: January 7, 2010



Topic: To Talk about Past and Future Around the Fireplace -- Wei Jingsheng

标题:围炉夜谈过去和将来-- 魏京生


Original Language Version: Chinese (Chinese version at the end)









-- 魏京生











































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