Wed, Jun 04, 2014 - Page 8 News List

All need to re-examine their policies

By William A. Stanton 司徒文

On the 25th Anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, China should seriously reflect on its own responsibility for so much of its past suffering.

Japanese atrocities and brutality toward China from 1937 to 1945 have been rightly and repeatedly condemned, and no one today would defend the Western colonization of China in the 19th century even if some scholars have made a cogent case that, ironically, it spurred China’s modernization.

Nonetheless, despite China’s strong preference for playing the role of victim and blaming others, most of the terrible suffering the Chinese have endured has been self-inflicted in a long history of bloody dynastic wars, domestic rebellions and conflicts with neighbors — most of which it initiated.

In the 20th century, in addition to the deaths and suffering caused by the Chinese Civil War between the Nationalists [Chinese Nationalist Party, KMT] and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the evidence is now overwhelming that tens of millions of Chinese died as a direct result of the leadership of the CCP and its horrid policies.

When China insists that the US is responsible for Taiwan not having unified with the mainland, we should always ask if Beijing believes that Taiwan should also have endured the brutal tragedies of the Great Leap Forward (大躍進) and the Cultural Revolution, as well as the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) bloody advance into Tiananmen Square which gave the lie to the popular conviction prevalent before then that the PLA would never use force against its own people.

The reason why the CCP refuses to re-examine its actions at Tiananmen is fear that it would endanger its own legitimacy. This is spelled out in April 22 last year’s “Notice from the Central Committee of the Communist Party (CCP) of China’s General Office” (known as Document No. 9), that forbids anything that “undermines the history of the CCP and of New China.”

This includes “claiming that the revolution led by the CCP resulted only in destruction; …calling … the Party’s and New China’s history a ‘continuous series of mistakes’; …. and vilifying the Party’s leaders,” including denying “the scientific and guiding value of Mao Zedong (毛澤東) thought.” All of this would be “tantamount to denying the legitimacy of the CCP’s long-term political dominance.”

The list itself reads like an indictment.

It is no surprise that Chinese journalist Gao Yu (高玉), who allegedly released this document, was arrested on May 13. She is of course only one of a large number of journalists and dissidents who have been arrested by the Chinese authorities in the run-up to the Tiananmen anniversary. Such a roundup happens annually, but this year the detentions and arrests appear to be far more numerous.

In fact, however, the CCP would gain legitimacy for its leadership, both domestically and internationally, if it accepted its responsibility not only for its successes, but also for the unnecessary suffering it has caused since it took power, a reality widely recognized outside of China.

While the CCP can be proud of China’s economic progress over the last 25 years, it should admit that the degree to which China has succeeded since it opened up under former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) is the degree to which it has ceased to impose the ideology that gave the CCP its name and claim to leadership.

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