Wei Jingsheng Foundation News and Article Release Issue: A1178-W806



Release Date: January 5, 2019



Topic: Political Modernization Should Be the Primary Goal of Reform in China

-- Yan Jiaqi's Speech at the Symposium in Observance of the 40th Anniversary of the Democracy Wall in the US Congress



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



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Political Modernization Should Be the Primary Goal of Reform in China

-- Yan Jiaqi's Speech at the Symposium in Observance of the 40th Anniversary of the Democracy Wall in the US Congress on December 10, 2018

History must be seen from a near perspective as well as from a far distance. Regarding far and near, there is far and near in measurement of time, and there is far and near in measurement of space. Looking at the Beijing Democracy Wall Movement 40 years ago from across the Pacific Ocean now, is looking at the Beijing Democracy Wall from both a distance in time and a distant in space.

When (Xi Jinping's father) Xi Zhongxun named his sons, there was such a subconscious mind of far and near. To save the financial crisis, to promote economic growth, there will be near-term effectiveness by relying on good policies. Economists clearly understand that long-term economic growth is not determined too much by these fiscal policies and monetary policies, but could be counterproductive due to bad policies. The long-term growth of the economy can only rely on the rule of law, relying on capital, relying on talent, and relying on technological progress. This is the long-term and far-distance effect. Of course resources are also very important, but they can be purchased from abroad.


The same is true of history. Looking at Chinese history from a distance, there are two most obvious dividing lines: the Qin Dynasty and the Revolution of 1911. Looking at Mao Zedong from a distance, Mao Zedong is the Emperor HanWu of the Xihan and Emperor QinShiHuang of the Qin Dynasty. Mao wanted to become the emperor, and did not need to amend the constitution like Xi Jinping did this year. Mao Zedong's temperament surpassed the great emperors who started the dynasties like Song and Tang. He relied on launching a national mass movement to set aside the constitution, and disregarded all the civil and military ministers he did not like. Mao furthered the downfall of these officials by letting ordinary people have "big speeches and big posters" and various other means to "step their foot" on these bureaucrats. In the history of mankind, almost no king has had such great temperament, without being afraid of the floods behind him, and able to sweep out the old machine of the state government before the Cultural Revolution. After 1949, Mao Zedong's role in Chinese history was to reverse the general direction of the Revolution of 1911.

Economist Chen Zhiwu divides the 100-year history of China from 1949 to 2049 into four stages. The first stage was from 1949 to 1978, the second stage was from 1979 to 2008, the third stage was from 2009 to 2018, and the fourth stage will be from 2019 to 2049. There are four general programs associated with these four stages.

Referring to Chen Zhiwu's analysis, and using a language familiar to everyone, the general program from 1949 to 1978 was styled by Mao Zedong -- to implement the communist utopia, and to restore the monarchy in the name of the Republic. From 1976 to 1978 was the Hua Guofeng period. Although (Mao's wife) Jiang Qing was arrested, Hua Guofeng generally continued the Mao's route. In 1978, the reversal of the Tiananmen Incident (of 1976) and the subsequent Democracy Wall movement were major events that changed the direction of the historical development in China.


Two days after the reverse of the verdict of the Tiananmen Incident (of 1976), nine young people from Guizhou, included Huang Xiang, established the Enlightenment Society in Beijing. Commentating Huang Xiang's "The Vulcan Symphonic Poem," Li Jiahua said: "to give serious test and judgment of all the forgery and counterfeit in the name of the truth from the seats of the trial of practice!" On the evening of its founding, the Enlightenment Society posted signs with big characters on the Wall near the Mao Zedong Memorial Hall in Tiananmen Square, calling to "Reevaluate the Cultural Revolution" and to "Separate the 70% of credits and 30% of evil actions by Mao Zedong". The Beijing Democracy Wall in 1979 included Wangfujing, Xidan, the Monument to the People's Heroes on Tiananmen Square, as well as the palisade that held the posters. The first posters on Xidan Wall were not the big-character posters, but the first re-issue of the "China Youth" which was forbidden to be released by Wang Dongxing. That was in August 1978. Later, many petitioners who went to Beijing wrote their wrongful treatments as big-character posters and posted them on the Xidan Wall. After the verdict of the 1976 Tiananmen Incident was turned over, from November 25th, 1978 the Xidan Wall became a place for "democracy seminars." On the evening of November 27th, John Fraser, reporter of Toronto's The Globe and Mail, conveyed Deng Xiaoping's view on the Xidan Democracy Wall when Jim Novak, a Washington Post columnist met with Deng. At that time, Deng Xiaoping said that the Democracy Wall was a good thing and the people have this right. Deng Xiaoping also said, "I don't agree with the statement that Mao Zedong had 70% of good and 30% of evil. Mao was better than that." Deng also said that he gave himself of 60% good vs. 40% bad, with the same rating for (the senior Chinese marshal) Peng Dehuai." There was a female student who volunteered to translate (for John Fraser). That evening, several thousands of people gathered at the Xidan Democracy Wall. Most of the people marched to Tiananmen Square. More than a dozen people gave speeches and cheered Deng Xiaoping for supporting the Democracy Wall, and discussed China's future.


The Xidan Democracy Wall was also the place where many private publications came to be posted and distributed. On December 5 of that year, Wei Jingsheng posted his "The Fifth Modernization -- Democracy and Others", a big character poster in the name of "Jin Sheng". On January 8 of the second year, Wei Jingsheng named and calligraphed the magazine "Explorations" to be published. On December 16, the "April 5 Forum" was published which was edited by Xu Wenli. There were also "Today" by Bei Dao and Mang Ke, "Beijing Spring" by Zhou Weiming and Wang Juntao, "Human Rights in China" by Ren Wanding, "Fertile Earth" by Hu Ping, "Science, Democracy, and Legal System" by Qi Jianchang, "People's Reference News", "Democracy Wall". On January 6, 1979, the "Nineteen Articles of Human Rights Declaration in China" drafted by Ren Wanding was posted on the Xidan Wall. I was also a participant in the Democracy Wall. The title of "Beijing Spring" was proposed by me and was accepted by its founders Zhou Weimin and Wang Juntao. I also published an article on its inaugural issue, signed with the name Bu Shuming.


In 1978, there were two places trying to expel Mao Zedong's influence: one was the Democracy Wall, and the other was the theoretical retreat seminar hosted by Hu Yaobang at the Jingxi Hotel. 40 years ago, hot lead typesetting was very difficult to access. Under the efforts of Shao Mingrui of the Institute of Foreign Literature of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, one issue of the "Beijing Spring" edited by Zhou Weimin and Wang Juntao was printed in hot lead typesetting. I took several dozens of "Beijing Spring" to Jingxi Hotel and distributed them there. The theoretical retreat also printed and distributed a very detailed report of the Democracy Wall by the People's Daily reporters.

In 1978, 40 years ago, it was a year of great change in China. In this year, two people had two proposals. One was proposed in (the heart of the Communist regime in) Zhongnanhai and the other was proposed on the Democracy Wall. This was Deng Xiaoping's "reform and opening up" and Wei Jingsheng's "Fifth Modernization." "Reform and opening up" was to achieve economic modernization, and "the Fifth Modernization" was for "political modernization."


From 1978 to 2008, the general program for China's development was reform and opening up. Without the reversal verdict of the Tiananmen Incident (of 1976), there would be no Deng Xiaoping's reappearance on the Chinese political stage, no Democracy Wall in Beijing, and no negative ruling of the Cultural Revolution by the Chinese people at that time, and there would be no reform and opening up.

From 1978 to 2008, there were three major historical events that seriously distorted the process of reform and opening up. First, after Deng Xiaoping said that the Democracy Wall was a good thing in 1978, he turned his back and destroyed the Democracy Wall in 1979. On March 25, 1979, Wei Jingsheng published "Do We Want Democracy or a New Dictatorship?" on "Explorations" and said that people "must be wary of Deng Xiaoping become a dictator." Four days later, Wei Jingsheng was arrested. One day after Wei Jingsheng was arrested, Deng Xiaoping made a speech to "Adhere to the Four Principles (of the Chinese Communism)" at the theoretical retreat. From this day on, the main characters of the Democracy Wall were arrested and imprisoned one by one, and the theoretical retreat ended in vain.


The second major historical event was the anti-liberalization movement and stepping down of Hu Yaobang, the (more open-minded) Secretary-General of the Chinese Communist Party.

The third was the June 4 Massacre in 1989.

These three events have caused tens of thousands of victims. Today, Zhao Ziyang could not rest in peace, and Tiananmen Mothers are still crying in misery.

From 2009 to 2018, i.e. the past 10 years, was called the third stage by Chen Zhiwu. In an interview with the Financial Times reporter, he said that these 10 years are "10 years of stagnation" and "10 years that barely survived". I think it is "a decade of partial Maoism". Deng Xiaoping opposed personal worship. In the 1982 Chinese Constitution, it was expressly stipulated that the heads of state and government should not serve more than two consecutive terms. In these 10 years of 2009 to 2018, these stipulations were denied. In addition to the economic situation in China being "national advancement with civilians' lives falling backwards", the general program of China's transformation has been "partial Maoism". Today's political situation in China is exactly the same as Mao Zedong's period, of one-party dictatorship and personal dictatorship which are similar with little change. Despite the fairly large development of China's economy under the reform and opening up, as long as politics is not modernized, in the face of severe financial turmoil and economic crisis, economic success will be destroyed under authoritarian politics. As long as China maintains a dictatorial tradition of the dynasty politics of 3,000 years history, China cannot be truly strong. When many Chinese leaders are meeting and talking with the foreign leaders, we could still see the postures and figures of the officials from the Qing Dynasty.


From 2019 to 2049, in the face of the retrogression in the past 10 years, how will China develop? Chen Zhiwu proposed that China should carry out the second reform and opening up. If only half of the reforms are carried out, with the economy changed but not other changes, it will bring distortion to all aspects and inevitably turmoil and crisis at the end. Chen Zhiwu said that it is necessary to do all-round, not partial reform. I believe that the first of the so-called "all-round reform", is the "political modernization" proposed by Wei Jingsheng 40 years ago.

There are two prerequisites for achieving political modernization. The first is to further get rid of Maoism. The second is to restore the truth about the June 4th Massacre and let the sunshine of justice shine on the land of China. Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang made great contributions for China to walk out of the Mao Zedong era, and for progress and development in China. They all died while justice was miscarried. When justice is miscarried, the rule of law cannot be established in China. It is precisely because there is no justice, that rule of law cannot be established, and the false and wrongful cases are spread across the land of China. The spirit of the rule of law is to make legal justice shine like the sun.

To establish the rule of law and to strictly implement the rule of law are a specific goal of political modernization. There are also nine specific goals for political modernization, which are the supremacy of the constitution, the depoliticization and nationalization of the military, multiparty politics, parliamentary democracy, judicial independence, checks and balances, the term limits of heads of state and governments, the civil service system, and human rights protection.

Political modernization is not only the appeal of the democracy advocators, but the common goal and program of the entire Chinese people. Without political modernization, there will be people in China who still want to be emperors and China cannot get out of the cycle of dynasty changes. Without political modernization, China will have no bright future. As I come here today, the most important thing I want to say is that political modernization is the primary goal of progress for China and the platform for future reform in China. In the near future, China will be a free, democratic, civilized and modern country of power.



* Yan Jiaqi was active during the Democracy Wall period, and later become the director of the Institute of Political Research of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, where he published several essays and papers on political reform. His most famous book, written in collaboration with his wife Gao Gao, was A Ten Year History of the Cultural Revolution. He became a political advisor of Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang during the 1980s. After the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, he went to exile and participated in forming the Federation for a Democratic China and was elected as its first president.



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Wei Jingsheng Foundation News and Article Release Issue: A1178-W806



Release Date: January 5, 2019



Topic: Political Modernization Should Be the Primary Goal of Reform in China

-- Yan Jiaqi's Speech at the Symposium in Observance of the 40th Anniversary of the Democracy Wall in the US Congress



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
















在天安门事件翻案後两天,来自贵州的黄翔等9位青年在北京成立启蒙社,李家华在评黄翔的《火神交响诗》时说,「要在实践的审判席上,对一切伪造的、冒牌的真理进行严峻的检验和审判!」启蒙社成立的这一天晚间,启蒙社在天安门广场靠近毛泽东纪念堂的栅栏上贴出了「应该重新评价文化大革命」、「毛泽东要三七开」的大字标语。1979年北京民主墙,包括王府井、西单和天安门广场纪念碑和当时贴大字报的栅栏。西单墙最早张贴的不是大字报,而是被汪东兴禁止发行的《中国青年》复刊号第1期样本。时间在1978年8月。后来,又有许多到北京的上访者把自己的冤情写成大字报张贴在西单墙上。在天安门事件翻案後,从11月25日开始,西单墙前就成了「民主讨论会」的场所。11月27日傍晚,多伦多环球邮报记者John Fraser向大家传达了华盛顿邮报专栏作家Jim Novak 会见邓小平时,邓小平对西单民主墙的看法。邓小平当时说,民主墙是好事,人民有这个权利。邓小平还说,「毛泽东三七开我不同意,毛泽东比三七开要好」,并说「我对自己是四六开,彭德怀也应该四六开」。这是当时一位女学生自告奋勇翻译的。当天晚上,有几千人聚集在西单墙。接着大部分人游行到天安门广场,有十多人发表演说,为邓小平支持民主墙而欢呼,讨论中国未来的前途。

















* 严家祺先生早在民主墙时期就很活跃,后成为中国社会科学院政治研究所所长,并发表多篇关于政改的论文。 他与妻子高皋合作撰写的最著名的著作是《文化大革命十年史》。 他在20世纪80年代成为中国总理赵紫阳的政治顾问。1989年天安门民主运动之后,他流亡并参与组建民主中国阵线,并当选为第一任主席。














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