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Jan-05-2009 15:01printcomments

Party Interests Drive China

RFA says Civil Rights movement holds the key.

Remote China

(HONG KONG) - China's ruling Communist Party is a highly efficient political machine that drives the country's 1.3 billion people with scant regard for their welfare, a former top official has said in a series of essays broadcast by Radio Free Asia (RFA).

In a blistering conclusion to a series of essays for RFA’s Mandarin service to mark the 30th anniversary of China's economic reforms, Bao Tong, former aide to the late ousted premier Zhao Ziyang, said the main hope for political reform now lies with the country's civil rights movement, as its citizens increasingly begin to invoke rights already enshrined in law to protect themselves against abuse.

“It is a system engineered to make sure the people are governed by the interests of the Party, engineered so that the Party can drive China's billion-strong population before it in any direction it chooses,” Bao wrote from his Beijing home, where he has been under house arrest after serving a seven-year jail term in the wake of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

“It doesn't matter what the task is; the system is up to the challenge, up to mowing down everything in its path, however fruitful, up to dealing with sudden incidents, up to trying the signatories to Charter 08 in court; there is nothing it can't handle smoothly,” he said, referring to a recent document signed by more than 300 intellectuals and rights activists which called for political reform.

“Of all the grass-roots movements that have happened in the past 10 years, the one most worthy of notice is the civil rights movement,” said Bao, citing government figures detailing tens of thousands of “mass incidents” across China every year: one every five minutes.

Bao lashed out in an earlier essay at late supreme leader Deng Xiaoping, credited with launching China's economic reforms in 1978 and lauded in a series of official media features looking back over the last 30 years of economic growth.

Bao also launched a stinging attack on the “terrifying juggernaut” that is China's one-Party state, saying it is now capable of driving all before it and now acts entirely in its own interests.

The process of reforms was derailed after the 1989 crackdown, Bao said, and is now reformist only in name. China's chief hope for change still lies with grassroots activists around the country, he said.

“The civil rights movement is extending its influence into every domain: from appeals and complaints about grievances and official wrongdoing, to health and safety, to land and property rights, to the right to religious freedom, to the right to ethnic autonomy, to the right to supervise those in power, and the right to self-expression and to vote,” Bao said.

“[This is] a phenomenon which is both unstoppable and impossible to hide.”

Original essays in Chinese by Bao Tong, broadcast on RFA's Mandarin service. Director: Jennifer Chou. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.

Bao Tong's 30th anniversary essays in English:

Source: Radio Free Asia, a private, nonprofit corporation broadcasting and publishing online news, information, and commentary in nine East Asian languages to listeners who do not have access to full and free news media. RFA’s broadcasts seek to promote the rights of freedom of opinion and expression, including the freedom to “seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” RFA is funded by an annual grant from the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

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