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Will Zhao's Book Shake China? Don't Bet On It

Someone asked me whether I thought Zhao Ziyang's posthumous memoirs -- "Prisoner of the State" -- was going to cause some type of controversy on the mainland or add to the worries of the Chinese Communist Party.

My answer? Nothing major and not much. The book's Chinese edition will sell well in Hong Kong. Other than that, the reaction will probably be like this:

1) Internally, there will be a bit of a freak-out.
2) Websites carrying the Zhao story will be blocked.
3) For a while, customs will search bags from Hong Kong for the book.
4) At a certain point the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will come out with a statement that will use the word "stability."
5) An internal investigation will be launched and some old friends of Zhao's could find themselves in trouble.

But that's about it.

Two reasons: One, China's varied elites are generally supportive of the regime. Sure, they want things to get better. They want legal protections to improve; they're unhappy with corruption and want a bigger say in things that are done, especially by the local governments. But there is a general sense that life is improving. Revolutions come when expectations increase faster than reality. But in China the party has been successful in ensuring that that gap does not widen too fast.

The second reason is this: Zhao's book shows clearly that the major cause of instability in post-1949 China has been -- and probably will continue to be -- problems at the top of the Communist Party. Look at the history:

  • 100 Flowers morphing into Anti-Rightist campaign; hundreds of thousands of lives ruined. Source? The top.

  • Great Leap Forward: 30 million dead in famine. Source? The top.

  • Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Millions more dead or ruined. Source? The top.

  • The Tiananmen Square protest. Hundreds killed and economic reforms set back by years. Source? Again, a leadership struggle at the top.

One of Zhao's main accusations in the book is that then-premier Li Peng and his acolytes basically used the demonstrations as an excuse to attack and defeat Zhao. (Zhao might have been thinking he'd use the demonstration the same way, to attack and defeat Li Peng. And we haven't heard Li Peng's side of the story. Yet.)

But right now the top echelon of the party in China is generally united. It's pretty much been that way since since 1995 when then-General Secretary Jiang Zemin jailed his rival Chen Xitong of Beijing. (Current party boss Hu Jintao did the same thing with another big city leader -- Chen Liangyu of Shanghai in 2006.) As long as there's semi-unity among China's leadership and a generally quiescent elite, things will probably go well for the CCP.

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Comments (87)

generalyuefei Author Profile Page:

Even John cannot compete!

generalyuefei Author Profile Page:

chen is most embarrassing people ever, ever!
he is national shame, he brings shame to Mainland and Taiwan.
Maybe Time should put his face on cover, Most Shameless Person of the year!

Donald2 Author Profile Page:

dummy4peace said:

"After former South Korean President Roh committed suicide during a hike, Amnesty International should look into the persecution of former Taiwanese President Chen before more suicides occur in Asia."

You are ahead of yourself. I am sure Amnesty International will be welcomed to look into the Chen situation.


- He is writing books, seeing friends, etc. His treatment is much better than other inmates. Of course, any legal system need improvements, but he should not have special favor because of his status. None of his treatment is because of his political views. To grow into fully independent judicial system in a democracy, this is extremely important, and worth fighting for. Stop even dreaming of getting your hand into Taiwan's judicial system. Stop it.

- He hald heartedly hunger striked 4 times already. Actually, those were just food diet. Taiwan had some dark past. Just look how other real political fighters think of him. Chen does not get much respect.

- Want to look at how he abused his power and classified all evidence as national secrets. He admited his fabricated case of 'South Line Project" of course, all of those only make him a criminal like any other criminals. However, do you think his credibility should be considered before believeing any of his words?

- Suicide is bad. But I have full confidence on Chen. Don't worry, he is a surviver. He is still blaming everyone else except himself. He lectured judges. When was the last time you heard of someone doing this? Remember Saddem Hussein? Even Slobodan Milošević did not do that. Chen is way way much stronger than anyone can imagine.

-South Korean former President Roh got his proscutor suicide because he put too much pressure on legal system to protect himself. Where is the justice for that proscutor. Although suicide is not good, we should not lost our common sence. Although a much better outcome is to have Roh handled by legal system. We should give democracy some support.

- One important thing. People in Taiwan should separate Chen from DPP supporters and not to look down on DPP supporters, even if some may still support Chen. A shamed political group can be very dengerous.

dummy4peace Author Profile Page:

After former South Korean President Roh committed suicide during a hike, Amnesty International should look into the persecution of former Taiwanese President Chen before more suicides occur in Asia.

There are also annual rankings for corruption and democracy in the world. World Audit is an international not-for-profit company registered in England.


For corruption, China was ranked 57, while Taiwan, 26 in 2007 when Chen was still president.

For democracy, China was ranked 121, while Taiwan, 38 in 2007.

When a country is ranked high on democracy, it also gets high ranking on corruption except for a few outlier countries. This shows us how important it is to get rid of corruption, which, of course, upsets those in power. We also need to learn from Finland, Denmark and New Zealand.

thmak Author Profile Page:

To GeneralYueFei: It is good to have open media. But control must exist in case the open media is abused. As everyone knows, China has been under constant military, political, economic and cultural threat from the West. So it is normal that China is sensitive to open media which can easily be hijacked by the anti-China organizations to cause turmoil in
China. As all knows, USA is very sensitive to Jihadism. So China is sensitive to Freeism.

generalyuefei Author Profile Page:

To Dear Thamk,

The bottom line is China needs Open Media.

Like this John Pomfret Blog, even though he is a China Separatist who works the scheme of US Politics.

However his website remains Open Media, that every reader has right to express their own view, and in the end he owns this blog, but he loses his battle against Chinese Nationalists like you and me.

That is the benefit of Open Media Principal that put into a balance system, even though majority are westerners, but on the One-China issue we win.

That is the benefit of this democratic system and based on Human Rights of Free Speech that you and me can stand and win victoriously against John Pomfret and his fellow WorldCraft or Starcraft players, because such system guarantees truth wins in the end. Not those who possesses the system, or this blog.

Same as China, people must have their rights for free speech, and system must be democratic, so this way the early nightmares would never happen again.

Maybe we laugh at Taiwan's democratic system that went along with crook Chen, but can you imagine if Taiwan did not have free speech society and democratic system, What Chen would do to our Chinese people on that Island? Look back 50 years of China, look at North Korea now! (Even a show-like democratic system could maintain Taiwan safe from Chen like as-hole)

one of the reasons we Chinese, our 5 generations suffered so much, it is that we lack these things

farklol Author Profile Page:

Donald, you make a really good point. Historically, the Chinese people have been victims to tyranny both foreign and domestic. Today, China has one of the most powerful military in the world and a nuclear arsenal, so that prevents foreign tyrants. Domestic tyrants can be prevented by having a government with checks and balances and constitutional law.

Also, it is strong property rights laws (a component of democracy) that helps people keep their money.

Donald2 Author Profile Page:

I believe current Chinese government does have big contribution to the Chinese economic miracle. In the mean time, we cannot deny the Confucius based work ethics of the hard working Chinese culture. This work ethics probably affected Japanese, Koreans too.

But, in 1949, when Mao declared "Chinese people are now standing up.", and the following 30 years, the Chinese economy is the worst in the world. I don't need to mention in early 80's when people from Taiwan and Hong Kong visited mainland, how heart broken they were when they saw the poor living condition in China. Of course the post-80's have no memory of those days. The point is, that's the same people, same government. Chinese people ask very little. They only ask for a better life. I am sure not any Chinese wants those days back. Although Westerners are not happy with what happens in China, Chinese are happy with what they have.

The question is: how can you be sure to keep the current life style and those old bad days will never be back? And if someone want to change the life you value so much now, what can YOU do to protect your family.

That need both a strong China and some democratic system inside China. A strong China will prevent foreigners to hurt China as in the past. And democracy inside China will protect Chinese from falling into the trap of those sad years.

Speak of democracy, most people may tell you what democracy? Can you eat your ballet? My simple answer is democracy can help you keep the money you made. I believe that's a good answer.

thmak Author Profile Page:

To Dummy4peace: Your post at May 26, 2009 11:35 PM is very good. Yes "human are very fuzzy creatures, who can't be happy with just two choices.". Some do good, some do bad, some do nothing. Human create their own problems so as to keep busy happily or sadly solving them themselves. You may be free to speak your mind to your President but hope what you speak is not threatening. He doeswn't have the time to listen to all those who want to speak to him. So he may not hear what you say. You may not want to see China as it is, but China is getting closer to you. When you two are close enough, I hope, as you said "We should try to bring out the better part of everyone."

farklol Author Profile Page:


I guess all it comes down to is my question #2: whether political freedoms help or harm China's progress. I wasn't saying that China should hold general elections anytime soon, only that it should develop that is, as you described, based on the rule of LAW. Let's be specific.

You cannot have rule of law without a strong, independent judicial system (which China lacks). You cannot address ranpant corruption without government transparency and accountability (which China lacks). You cannot have a sustainable and robust economic growth without comprehensive property rights laws (which China lacks). I agree that these things take time to develop, as China's modern civil infrastructure is only a few decades old, but they NEED to develop. This is why political progress need to "catch up" with economic progress, because the lack of political development will be China's liability in the future. To be fair, corruption and non-transparency is common to developing nations, but China cannot forever stay a developing nation, can it?

As to question 3, I WANT political reform at the top-level. I ultimately desire reformers sitting in the Politburo. I DO NOT want to tear down the system, I want it changed from the inside, meaning a stronger and more independent judiciary, more accountability, and enforcement of new comprehensive property laws. Democracies don't start with elections. Political progress IS Chinese progress.

Now since I answered you I ask you again: would you support reformists in the Politburo?

Chan1 Author Profile Page:


Did you know that when I said the consensus of all the experts seem to be "India's success is due to its people alone while China's success is mainly due to its government" is not just limited to individual experts.

According to the OECD, China's extraordinary economic performance in the last 30 years was driven by the Chinese government’s economic policies.

Before I provide my counter-arguments to your last post (dated May 26, 7:05pm), I like to 1st find out why you think all the experts and insiders got it wrong.

dummy4peace Author Profile Page:

If you want to divide the whole world into black and white only, you may suffer from lots of unhappiness. Let's not forget humans are very fuzzy creatures, who can't be happy with just two choices.

No country is perfect, but I have the right not to volunteer myself to visit misery. I don't care how many high rise buildings a country has. You just don't have what we have - speak what's on our mind even to our President. I don't envy that kind of life and have no desire to see it.

I do have a problem with Turkey. They have occupied Northern Cyprus for way too long. But this doesn't mean that I don't like the Turkish people. I have friends from both Turkey and Cyprus. In every people, there are good and bad people. For example, there are bad Americans and good Chinese, and many others are between good and bad. Dividing the world into black and white is simply not practical. We should try to bring out the better part of everyone.

Let's stop using the past history to blame the current generation. With a few thousand-years of history, it's easier to find faults with China than most countries in the world. But I am glad that some actually cared to mention it. That's hope and let's move on.

Raoul2 Author Profile Page:

Longren, you are a little off base in your analysis.

You state, "The Chinese are inborn creating producers and businessmen if they are unfettered by the government. Just look at Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and the overseas Chinese."

A bit of research reveals a story of highly activist governments in Taiwan, HK and Singapore. It is precisely because of government incentive structures and support in these economies that the growth rate was so marked.

You might consider checking out Meredith Woo-Cumings'"The Developmental State" reader.

longren Author Profile Page:

Reply to Chan1 “China's success is mainly due to its government”

LOL, nothing could be further from the truth. The Chinese are inborn creating producers and businessmen if they are unfettered by the government. Just look at Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and the overseas Chinese. Now in China the state-owned and state-holding enterprises produce only about 30% of its annual GDP, but more than 30 years ago they turned out almost 100% of the GDP and the government controlled everything, therefore the Chinese suffered poverty because of Mao’s mentality of “better to possess proletarian weeds than to have capitalist crops”.

In the past 30 years China has taken advantage of almost USD 1000 billions foreign direct investment capital which has been the driving force behind the economic development in the Mainland China and the nickname “the World Factory”. And at the same time, Hong Kongers, the Taiwanese and the overseas Chinese have served as a bridge connecting the Mainland China to the world. Before 2005 all the listings of the big Chinese companies were completed only on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. About more than 50 % of all the foreign direct investment came from Hong Kong, Taiwan and the overseas Chinese enterprises. The story of China’s success is so unique that other countries can not imitate it. Russia, India and Brazil don’t have their own “Hong Kong and Taiwan”.

If we break up the contributions of China’s success into percentages, the results may be as follows:
1) The Mainland Chinese: 40%
2) The Hong Kongers, Taiwanese and the overseas Chinese: 20%
3) Deng Xiaoping, the opening-up policies and the government: 20%
4) The foreign direct investment: 20%

thmak Author Profile Page:

To Farklol: (1) No government is infallable and the Chinese government has its share of criticism, otherwise it wouldn't be as progressive as what it is today. China will not be a yes-man to criticism. It will march ahead on its own way. Of course it will not respond to or even will crack down on antagonistic and unrealistic criticism.
(2). Political freedom has many faces. It can destructive as well as constructive. As we all know in USA, politicians are deemed the least desired professional and are associated with crooks. As you know, freedom is not THAT free. It is regulated by laws to the level that the citizens know how to exercise without causing social unrest. Do you suggest that it is better to have greater to the point of complete political freedom without laws. That will be chaos. (3) What political path the CCP takes is not my concern. It is their business, not mine. I don't want to participate or responsible to what ever they do.

3. If the CCP started on the path of political reform, would you support it

sing1 Author Profile Page:

One good old saying: "Do not let perfection get in the way of good."

farklol Author Profile Page:

To Thmak:

I have three questions for you:

1. Do you believe that the Chinese Government is so infallible that it does not deserve criticism?

2. Do you believe granting greater political freedoms to the Chinese people will hamper China's progress?

3. If the CCP started on the path of political reform, would you support it?

thmak Author Profile Page:

To GeneralYueFei; The present Chinese government has been doing all kinds of balancing work the Chinese way. These balancing work don't have to called democratic in order to be legitimate. Opening the investigation means resurecting the confrontational movement which at this time is closed and banned. All these so-called student leaders are living overseas and are supported by foreign anti-China organisations. So your so-called open investigation will be hijacked by those student leaders/anti-China organisations as a forum to attack China inside China. This is obviously and absolutely not permitted. If the previous USA government has done nothing wrong as Cheney claimed, then why doesn't Obama conduct an OPEN investigation in this free, democratic and human righteous country. You recommend reporters to do the investigations. What make you so sure that they will not be splitted into two opposing parties and cause another undesirable, distabilizing and disturbing political movement in China. That is unacceptable. Again I repeat, those protesters,after they had long over stayed in the Square and met with the top Chinese leaders, were warned ahead of time to clear the Square and will be held responsible for whatever happen if they refuse. This is law and order in a free, democratic and human righteous country. I hope you understand.

Donald2 Author Profile Page:


"Sorry, I won't be interested in visiting China till she is free."

I got a feeling that your whole view about China is just the reported human rights issue. I don't know if you will refuse to visit Turkey because they don't admit their genosite of Armanians, or to any synagogue because Palestinians are killed all the time, or not to stay in US because all the bad things US government and big companies are doing.

I suppose there is no perfect world. And if there is a perfect world in your view or in anyone's view so that other less perfect worlds should be bombed, I am certain that perfect one must be a very dangerous one.

generalyuefei Author Profile Page:

To Thamk,

Bush kind of attitude would produce "Intensive Interrogation", no? That changed whole army of protecting human rights to violating human rights, no?

A purpose of democratic state is to balance that kind of attitude.

If the students were really wrong, then government ban independent reporter to investigate?

If the government had NOTHING to cover up, then people surely could not find anything illegal right? Like shooting at students or torture prisoners? Right?

Chan1 Author Profile Page:


Ok, that's your choice.

All I can say is unless you see the real thing with your own eyes, I guess you will never understand why there are people such as myself on the other side of the debate.

Perhaps you may like to ponder about this question :

If China was that "evil", then surely there could be no persons of decency on the other side of the debate. But there are literally thousands of Chinese in almost every major country in the world supporting China and its government. Surely, they can't ALL be evil.


By the way, here is an American gentleman with 1st hand experience of the Sichuan quake in China speaking about his experience. Note how he compares China and the US. (It's on the comments section) :



dummy4peace Author Profile Page:

No, I have never been to China, but I have read about and interacted with enough Chinese visitors in the US. In this 21st century on Planet Earth, there has got to be a way for all the suffering human beings to stop suffering and start to enjoy human rights. Sorry, I won't be interested in visiting China till she is free.

Chan1 Author Profile Page:

Also, in case anyone is interested :

I've revamped my blogsite and published a new article the topic of democracy. Please feel free to check it out.

This latest article is called : “Topics on Democracy (Part 1) — Democracy War Game”. It is the 1st of a 2 part series.


(PS. It’s the 3rd article at the bottom )

Have fun.

Chan1 Author Profile Page:


Just happened to browse through this site and saw your last comment. You seem like someone who has never been to China. Perhaps you should go and have a look at the real place. Your description that the Chinese polpulation is living in fear does not match the reality.

You may be surprised to learn that many overseas Chinese actually choose to go to China to live. My father is one of them.



You mentioned in your last post that the progress in China was made by the people themselves. I guess you are implying that the Chinese govt didn't play a part.

I don't know if you realize or not. Your view seems to contradict with the consensus of all China experts that I know of. Correct me if I am wrong, the consensus seems to be that - Thus far, India's success is due to its people alone while China's success is mainly due to its government.

thmak Author Profile Page:

To Alex65: Most American are ignorant to know that Most Chinese live happilly and satisfied under the present Government. There are thousands and thousands of Chinese students in USA. Why don't you go to ask them instead of stay put in your pigeon hole brainwashed view.

thmak Author Profile Page:

To Dummy4peace: You have no fear because you have not done anything that is against the Government. That will be different if you do. Please remember the frightened Iraqis and Afganis when American GIs knock down their doors in search of what they called militants or even may just start shooting. The outpouring of support of 2008 Olympic, the economic progress, peaceful international relation, the Sichuan earthquake prove that the Chinese leaders are better than your beloved US leaders who performed shamelessly during Katrina, led the whole wide world into a worst economic recession in recent history, swindled the country to go to war in the Middle East condemned by the majority of the world countries and committed the worst human right violation in the 21st century condemened world wide. I hope you can enjoy your Memorial day with a peace of mind.

thmak Author Profile Page:

To Makhongkurt: Thanks for your clarification. I might have mentioned National Guards.

alex65 Author Profile Page:

DUMMY4PEAC: I want to express my sincere gratitue to you and people like you who have demonstrated treamendous compassion towards chinese people and mankind in general. I am fortunate to have met a lot of people just like you.

MekhongKurt1: thank you for your clarification...most people in China do not know what you described even exists anywhere in the world.

For me, personally, 1989 Tiananmen forced me realize that I can never live under the heartless communist rulers. It was a traumatic and sad awakening.

I am happy to see the wonderful progress chinese people have made, by themsleves, in the past 30 years. I wish someday they can enjoy the same level of personal freedom as the American people.

dummy4peace Author Profile Page:

On this Memorial Day weekend, we honor our dead, who had fought for our freedom of speech and our equal rights. As an American citizen, I have never been afraid of our military servicemen and women. We respect them and appreciate their sacrifice for our country. I have never ever feared that any soldiers may kick my door down in the middle of the night and drag me out. This freedom of fear is not what you can buy with any amount of money.

The Chinese people do have a better life in general and a few even got filthy rich. That's because your beloved communist leaders were so brutal that any form of government after them would have been better. As my screen name indicates, I am a dummy and very ignorant of many things. But I do understand some of you here cannot speak your mind, or else you and your family can be in trouble. May peace be with you some day! I am going back to honor our dead in the Memorial Day parade in town. Whoever wants to walk in the parade can just show up for it. It's also fun to see friends and neighbors for a nice walk and throw all sorts of candy to kids on the street. It's a quiet reminiscent weekend with music that can make me cry.

MekhongKurt1 Author Profile Page:

To THMAK: I'm an American who once worked as a police officer in Texas, so I'm in a reasonably good position to let you know someone has badly misinformed you regarding the role *military* police in contrast to civil police in the U.S.

In short, the military police play absolutely no role in civil law enforcement. Perhaps the confusion comes from the fact that when, say, military personnel are given weekend's leave for a major public holiday, and there's a nearby town to which off-duty personnel gravitate, MP's will be on patrol there, on the lookout for misbehaving (by which I mean violating military laws). If they see such, then they will, if they deem it appropriate, arrest the offender. And remember, if the soldier/sailor/airman/marine is in civilian clothes, the MP's won't even recognize him (or her) as being in the military. And even if the offender *is* in uniform, if the violation also violates civil law, such as being drunk in public, the MP's often will cede to the local -- and civil -- police.

No, our military police aren't going to be hitting the streets to suppress a demonstration anytime soon. If there's one thing Americans of all types agree on, it's that we hold the military at arm's length when it comes to civil affairs -- but we hold the entire military in great respect. (Well, a lot of us do, anyway.)

I hope this clarifies the sometimes confusing information about the varying roles of the many law enforcement agencies that exist in the U.S., including within our military.

thmak Author Profile Page:

To GeneralYuefei: You call for an investigation. There were two sides: the protesters and the government. There is no party independent enough to do the investigation. Just as Bush says: It is either you with me or against me. Will there be an independent party to officially judge who is right: Cheney or Obama? Obama doesn't even say the previous admininstration is at fault or try to investigate what goes wrong with the previous administration or held those responsible. Again I repeat: The protesters are warned ahead of time that they must clear the Square and be held responsible for whatever conseqences if they refuse. This is a standard procedure in any free, democratic, human righteous contry. To be free, one must be able to be free from being jailed in a dead end failure.

generalyuefei Author Profile Page:

To Sing and Thamk,

the mobs threw bricks at the army transport vehicles that young soldiers sat in. And soldiers were ordered not to look at the mobs.

but when the mobs trying to approach and surround the vehicles that a few warning shots were fired toward the ground, however soldiers were not given permission to fire their gun.

and most gun shot wounds were on the lower body, and every one that day in the mob learned what was like when the bullet shot toward the ground, a split fire bounced.

How many photo films were destroyed?

I did not believe my government shot at our kids, yes they were mixed in mobs, but still they were students. But after I saw the pictures that my friends took in Beijing while they were students, I changed my mind.

And those poor soldiers were even younger than the students. It was just tragedy.

If no body ever died, then why the government still bans the people to investigate? The whole disaster was caused by panicking.

There are books filled with pictures that anyone can read.

But current government and leaders they are off the responsibility, but at least someone have to be honest for it.

sing1 Author Profile Page:

Let me be devil's advocate. I shall show you some of research I came up with lately.
Excerpt from June 12, 1989 Times magazine.
"An armored personnel carrier that had sped into the square half an hour BEFORE THE MAIN ASSULT was blocked by a barricade of bicycle racks. Protesters mummified the APC in banners and cloth, then set it ablaze with Molotov cocktails, trapping its crew of eight or nine soldiers."
Those soldiers were burned to death and bodies hung from lamppost.
This happened before the main assault and any shot was fired
I did not say that the students commit the murder. However, the situation was getting out of hand.
候德健 is the singer from Taiwan who was part of protest and started the hunger strike with three other students.
Following is the excerpt of TV interview he gave after he was kicked out of China.

Whether China would have been better by comprising is still a big question mark?
Judging from what happened in Balkin and Russian, I would say China would have been worst off if they moved too fast to reform their political system.

generalyuefei Author Profile Page:

to thmak

Who the F are those Chinese leaders!? Who F are they?!

Are they the ones ruined the whole nation?!!

Or they are the seeds of Revolutionists that originally a bunch of peasants gangsters!!?

Whoever Chinese ever agreed they are the leaders?!
Are they the ones that hold the guns and caused the whole nation in turmoil for 40 years?!

They are not rightful leaders, no one ever voted for them.

So what the students met the Chinese 'leaders', they don't deserve?! Every Chinese deserve to meet their leaders, who hell they are, and who the hell you think they are?


'once of their life meeting Chinese leaders', those leaders are servants, they are not voted by people, so they robbed the throne and the nation.

Dear thmak,

You have to change you mind, they are the same as the students, and you, and me and everyone else.

They are not your gods, and you and me we are not their dogs! Those students know better than you do about our human rights and democracy.

thmak Author Profile Page:

To GeneralTueFei: they were warned way ahead of time to leave the square and of the consequences. They had stayed way passed the allowable period in the square and they had been granted once in a life time meeting with the Chinese leaders. They became so arrogant as to think they can dictate conditions to the Chinese leaders. Those protesters became dictators themselves abandoning the ideas that drove them to protest from the start.. No Western free, democratic, human righteous countries ever treat their protesters so leniently before the show down.

thmak Author Profile Page:

It all depends on what kinds of protest.

generalyuefei Author Profile Page:

to thmak,

so it is okay to order army shoot at them right?

it is a right thing to do.

it is right thing to deny, and disallow media to investigate the death, and to destroy all the evidence right?

So in future if you kids protest, then you are okay I shoot them. Is this what you mean?

If they are spoiled, and won't go back home, sleep in the square, so I can just shoot them, and shut you up, right?

thmak Author Profile Page:

To Dummy4peace: You are so ignorance of what democracy is. Democracy is not a cure-all politcal system as evidenced by good and bad democratic systems around the world.

thmak Author Profile Page:

To GeneralYueFei: If there is an open report, the Government will be drawn in. The government's position is clear. That is to disperse the months old protesters by force if necessary. No such long period of protest has ever been allowed in USA. Those protesters had been warned well in advance of the Government action and of the conseqences. The protesters thought they have the God given right to demand the Government to satisfy their demands or else they would stay as long as needed. The Chinese leaders had a face to face meeting with the protesters that never happens in USA in recent times.Too bad that a well-intentioned cause deteriorated into a calamity.

generalyuefei Author Profile Page:

To thmak,

But US allows the open independent media to investigate and publish the report if there were a June 4th crack down, at least those family can tell people that their children were shot dead by government.

But in China, who dares now to do a June 4th report?

That is democracy principal, that people do have rights to investigate and publish news, the truth.

So their government is constantly watched by people.

But in China, we don't get that.

In every country and any society, politicians are the worst and lowest moral people, they are all power hungered and greedy and aggressive people, whether in US or in China, (only a few are good) that's the reason any system would need open media to balance it, so these way the people can watch and manage and replace the servants.

Even in Ancient time, that our ancestors had open media, the kings and dukes and lords held their rank and power and army, but when their people suffered any bad administration they could write poems and spread to each market places and town halls, remember the Ode 300 詩300 that picked by Confucius? 1/3 of the poems were written to criticize the kings and officials, even Confucius time, common were allowed to speak out. 子產 was a great examples. The kings and officials heard report or news, they had to change the way they rule.

That is the power of open media. If Confucius lived today, he would sit in jail, 1st, he himself set and edited newspaper 春秋﹐2nd, he gathered 300 odes that 100 of them were to ironically criticize the current government and administration and other.

That is why Chinese must request for open media, but now the party CCP 'knows the best', if they stated no kids died on June 4th, then no kids died, those who died of heartache, not gun shot; and their mom and dad visit their dead son tomb every year.

If this happens in US, their people will roast all their senators' as.s; that's the difference btwn CCP and US.

dummy4peace Author Profile Page:

It takes time and intelligence to build a better democracy. I believe those Chinese that said Chinese don't need democracy know the truth in their heart. Many of the signatories for Charter 08 are also smart Chinese in high positions. They know that giving your citizens basic human rights such as freedom of speech can only make China greater. When China becomes a democratic country, we will be in the fiercest competition we can ask for. Why then? Well, we like to face our challenges fair and square so we can get better, too.

thmak Author Profile Page:

To GeneralYueFie; In USA, if the protesters execede their alloted time and continue to protest, they will be ordered to leave, If they refuse, force will be used. If they still refused, overwhelming force will be used which may be deadly as happened somes times in USA. I hope I am clear. USA Prisoner torturing is an example.

generalyuefei Author Profile Page:

To Dear thmak,

John' number of Chinese casualty during 1949-1978 are conservative, I have to be fair and speak for truth.

Many Chinese believe there were more dead than John's number, if that time, China were a democratic state with a open media system, all the problem would be prevented, and all those people would be saved... if we cover the numbers like CCP denies June 4th death, than those dead and their family would never live and die in peace, what if your family or sons were shot dead by government, how you will spend all these years and the rest of your life, what if Hu Jing Tao's sons were shot dead...?

And all those who died and suffered gravely thru all the early 40 years of new system deserve the justice, and yet no one can revive them, scars cannot recover, but at least they deserve truth.

What my administration caused your family death, can I tell you that that was fault of history? to let you go and still I rule like king and never allow you to discover and publish the truth?

Only CCP and Japanese government deny their killing, and the victims are just all our brother and sisters, fathers and moms, and grandpas and grannies... were all our family.

Only Japanese government they killed Chinese who they considered like pigs in China in WWII, but CCP, our own Chinese killed ourselves. And Mao thanked Japan government that they invaded China, so CCP had chance to rule. Would you thank me that I killed your brothers and sisters, and later you obtained your inheritance, would you thank me?

There is no honor about killing hundreds in Tian men square or millions before 1978.

That is our history. If we cannot be open to it, and face it, we will never build a system to prevent such things happen again.

There are many Chinese hate CCP and against CCP, but all of them love China. And they should be supported by you that when you and your family suffer injustice, they are the ones who willing to stand and yell and fight for you.

What kind of government killed their people's children and disallow them to speak? Are these people deserve to rule?

Donald2 Author Profile Page:


Yes, the many mainland Chinese I talk to do support China and want China to be stable, secure , strong and prosperous. But that's the same people telling you the hardship they experienced during those years, they will also tell you the unbelievable progress Chinese made since 1978. I don't think they are influenced by any "anti-China organization". These are scientists, professors, businessmen, government officials, etc. I do believe they are much more independent than you think.

Of course, I have less chance to talk to the labors in Chinese big cities like construction workers, etc. I believe the current hard labors had less chance to suffer in those crazy days because they are traditionally in the most red and poor class.

Admitting CCP's fault from 1949 to 1978, or even the current mistakes does not degrade your status as a patriotic Chinese.

farklol Author Profile Page:


As a Chinese-American, raised here with parents who came from the Mainland (Jiangsu, to be exact), I take exception to your statement. Here in the States, we don't tow the CCP party line. You are right that most of us really do love China. We want strong, united, and an ultimately democractic China. Don't get me wrong, I don't believe that democracy is going to happen tommorrow or that it's going to solve all of China's problems. I DO believe, however, that political reforms will occur and it is a natural and unavoidable part of China's development, therefore when the time comes it should be welcomed. I do not doubt that there are talented and smart people in the CCP, but even they understand a stable and sustainable political structure requires checks on government power and constitutional law. These are the underlying principles of democratic reform.

thmak Author Profile Page:

To Donald2: there are many Chinese students, workers, and retired people from China in USA. They certainly are free to vent their anger about those events if they are so angry and dissatisfied, even with the strong support of the anti-China organizations in USA. The fact is they don't. There are larger crowds celebrating the Chinese national holidays organized by pro-Chinese organizations than crowds protesting against the Chinese government because of those events. That is the fact. So the Chinese do not consider those events terrible as in the West. I don't take side with regard to those events. I just discuss the various intepretations of those events.

Donald2 Author Profile Page:


"If they have any bitterness from those times, they would not have been so hard working, stay in China and pro China now. They would have escaped China like the corrupt officials, and leaders of Tiananmen. event."

I talk to Chinese middle age and older Chinese inside and outside mainland all the time. I don't know how you draw your conclusion but, younger Chinese definitely coming to US as a good career move. Older people want to stay in China because culturally, it's easier to live there so they don't have to stay in a big single family house waiting for their kids to come home from work.

But to the damage done during Land Reform, three-against, Five-against, Cultural Revolution and 6-4, everyone are against those stupid, crazy, senseless days. From the people I talk to, those from top CCP families may put the words more mildly than others.

I only heard one person, a stupid American graduate student from Prinston, supported Cultural Revolution. That was in Taiwan in the 70's and he was those studying Chinese history, speaking Chinese, with a Chinese wife. Other than him. I have not heard ANYONE support those shameful days. Are you the next?

thmak Author Profile Page:

To Alex65: The number of people killed quoted by Pomfret is neither conservative nor reasonable. Even the Chinese didn't have an official count or estimate. So there is no "state secret". Take the example of the Pomfret's 30 miilion killed during the Cultural Revolution plus the millions in Great Leap Forward. The Chinese population is estimated to be 400-500 million after years of wars at that period of time. Pomfret's estimate amounts to about one out of fifteen people is killed. Chinese cities are densely populated. So one person living in a group of two to three buildings was killed. That is impossible. Those who survived those times are now in their sixties and their childrens in the forties. If they have any bitterness from those times, they would not have been so hard working, stay in China and pro China now. They would have escaped China like the corrupt officials, and leaders of Tiananmen. event.

alex65 Author Profile Page:

Although the number of people perished and lives ruined during any of the major landmark chinese communist movements is a "state secret", the numbers quoted by Mr. Pomfret seem very conservative and reasonable.

Again people nowadays just can not imagine the evilness suffered by the general chinese population during the hard-core communists control era. I believe the immense suffering is one of reasons chinese people feel so lucky nowadays and do not understand why people in the west still say they do not have enough personal freedom (which is the truth).

thmak Author Profile Page:

The casualties quoted by Pomfret for the 100 Flowers, Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmen movements are exaggerated just to demonize China for heinous political purpose. The lessons learned from these movements have steered China in the right directions that have driven China into the present day achievements better than any free democratic countries in the world.

water57 Author Profile Page:

to be a chinese or to be a indian, if i had to choose, i would like to be a chinese still. this what i want to say here.

Raoul2 Author Profile Page:

Thanks for the response, cdav531.

A couple of key points: pollsters use rather rigorous sampling methods, to avoid the biases that come with more anecdotal means of data collection (for instance, a teacher talking with students, taxi drivers, etc.)

More importantly, your position of "Chinese don't care about democracy" mirrors, in extremity and lack of nuance, those who see Chinese as slaves of the state.

Both views are likely distortions, the reality somewhere in the grey area between.

generalyuefei Author Profile Page:

To farklol:

If China remains a whole, the ultimate loser of Tibetan/Uighur independence will be US, that spends so much energy, money and efforts to make Chinese to war against each other. And in the end, empty handed.

You reap what you sow.

generalyuefei Author Profile Page:

To farklol:

1st, your term enemy of Tibetans and Uighar independence movements, is wrong.

The purpose of the enemy of Tibetans and Uighar are those who separate their country, China, those who turn Chinese against Chinese.

Those people who use anything and method to lure, separate China into chunks and to have them buy American weapon (mostly like) to shoot each other in 1000 years or forever, like how US stands on the middle east.

For ordinary Chinese, everyone of them of every ethnic, it is a tragedy that they have no wisdom and power to protect their peaceful unity when they face their true enemy. In the end, only The UNITED States is the beneficiary on such plots and result on political, militarily, economical, and culture ground.

In the end only UNITED States shall remain as WHOLE, not Russia, or Europe, or Middle East, or Africa, or China...

US' strategy is to create Power and Balance Militarily and politically in the other parts of the world, so no one will have chance or any property to be a potential enemy of the UNITED States.

One of the example shows that many Europe countries already realized that they cannot hold ground for economic competition against the Superpower UNITED States, so they formed an Union.

Another example, Outer Mongolia, they left China in last century, please do a compare of economical development status with inner Mongolia in China, the result is there. Both are Mongol Ethnic, but Chinese living and economical status marching much faster than the outer Mongolia.

There is one truth, the enemy always separates other people's house, always.

If I support Hawaiians, Native Indians, and Mexicans, and Mormons to fight against US, to fight for their Independence, then I am a truly US enemy. And my purpose is to get two birds by one stone.

This way creates Americans to kill Americans, so my country would sit and watch with popcorns.

If China is somehow separated, then Mainlanders, Tawanese, HKese, Tibetan, Mongolians..... are all losers, the final losers.

But if we remain united, no one dares to touch any of us in the world, whether he is Tibetan or Tawanese or Beijingese..., not even the UNITED States dares or has power to kick our door any time she wants to like deciding any kingly matters in middle east, and beats any separated Europe country on economical ground.

Who the hack you think we are?
Are we that idiots?! We are not poor American people, you know.

farklol Author Profile Page:

JohnRobertsFreeTibet shows that there's a strain of naivete in the broader "Reform China" movement outside of China that believes that democratizing China and Tibetan/Uighur independence goes hand-in-hand. They have this belief that, given freedoms, the majority of Chinese is more than willing to give up large chunks what they consider THEIR LAND to satisfy the wishes of a vastly smaller minority.

Included in the discussion should be what the socio-political landscape of a post-authoritarian China looks like. Because it is hard to ignore the rising nationalism among the younger population that affect, not be affected by, future political reforms.

A large portion of the Tiananmen student protesters were CHINESE NATIONALISTS, of which two of them eventually wrote "The China That Can Say No", which defined the modern Chinese nationalist school of thought. Just think of it like this: all those passionate and courageous political dissidents are not going to shut up and go home when the job is done. No, they are going to find new issues to crusade about. Keeping Tibet and Xinjiang as a part of China will be on top of that list.

Even pro-democracy anti-CCP Chinese posters like GeneralYueFei are as passionately against Tibetan and Uighur independence as he is for a free and transparent political system. It turns out the biggest losers are the Tibetans and Uighar independence movements, because their enemy is no longer the big, bad totalitarian government anymore. No, their new enemy are the vastly outnumbering ex-dissidents and 'liberal' reformers, emboldened by their victory and just as passionate and stubborn on their principles, with the belief that it is wholly undemocratic to give up land against the wishes of the majority.

I can't say I disagree.

thmak Author Profile Page:

To Dummyforpeace: Democracy doesn't "guarantee" , "protect" you from anything. People wants democracy to go after their own hidden agenda.

dummy4peace Author Profile Page:

If China truly considers Taiwan (or Hong Kong) as part of China, how can Chinese explain that those Taiwanese, or Chinese as you call them, actually want democracy? If you say Chinese don't want democracy, those millions of people that want democracy must not be Chinese.

Moreover, how many Chinese have died or sit in prison for democracy by now? Usually, those in power don't want democracy, because 'they think' democracy will take away their privileges. But who can guarantee your children or grandchildren to stay in power? Wouldn't it be safer for a democratic system to protect the rights of your future generations than your personal power that can be lost any time? If you want to protect your own family forever, it would be wise to establish democracy while you are still in power.

cdav531 Author Profile Page:

To Raoul2: Your question is a fair one. About all I can say is I extrapolate to the larger country what I hear from the "sample" of Chinese I personally speak with, much like modern pollsters. When pollsters conclude a certain percentage of folks favor this, that or the other thing they, too, don't speak with EVERYONE. As far as your other suggestion that Chinese won't tell the truth to a foreigner, well, I suppose that is true about certain issues but I can tell who is telling the truth and who isn't. My main point is that many folks in "the West," with its long tradition of "democracy" going back to the Greeks, find it difficult to believe that Chinese don't yearn for it too. Even "class monitors" are usually selected by the teachers and when I have asked students what they think of this most sincerely have no problem with it. Is some of this because they've grown very accustomed to this and have known nothing else? Yes, of course. There is an image many at home have of Chinese, maybe because of Pearl Buck or something, that they sit around lamenting their lack of "freedom" and are miserable people. I had it myself before I came here the first time in 2001. What I have discovered is that it simply isn't true. Freedom to a Chinese mostly means the ability to have a decent life and some material comforts. The CCP also knows this and that is why it pushes "development" so relentlessly. As soon as Chinese are all materially well off, which I can't foresee
happening for decades if not longer, the clamoring for more real "democracy" will begin. I don't claim to be an "expert" like many who write on the web about China.(Usually while spending most of their time interviewing government officials or "intellectuals.") I just write what I see and hear. There are folks here who rail against the government. Chat boards on the net have quite a bit of anti-government ranting. I'll just have to agree with "Longren." Chinese are pretty practical people. Why get all worked up over "democracy" when my family is hungry? When protests do occur here they are almost always for economic reasons and not political. MY land was taken. MY income is reduced as a result. MY home is threatened by toxic fumes from a nearby plant, etc.

longren Author Profile Page:

Mr. Pomfret is right this time. Democracy can’t be expected in China within the time horizon that can be foreseen. The underlying reason is that 99% of Chinese don’t care about democracy at all. What Chinese people really care about is material wealth and life. Freedom, democracy and religion never appear on the list of priority.

There were many democracy movements in China in 1980s because students and elites were aware of that China had lagged far behind in economic developments. But there are no wars for beliefs and religion in the Chinese history. Mao’s revolution was actually a peasant uprising with utopian garb from a German. The three most influential persons on Mao are Vladimir Lenin (his violent revolution theory), Qin Shi Huang (the first emperor in China, Mao’s culture revolution is the modern descendant of Qin’s burning books and burying the literati in pits), and Zhu Yuan Zhang (the first emperor of Ming Dynasty).

In only two scenarios, China will phase in democracy: 1) if there are man-made calamities in a row, the CCP dynasty will collapse; 2) one or two hundred years later, if a super-leader of CCP (just like Deng Xiaoping) who both knows democracy in his gut and has universal influences emerges, he will phase in democracy

kenneth3 Author Profile Page:

Looking at the lists of the panel's names, there are only two chinese out of a total of 52 panel members in Post Global. Besides, one of the two Chinese panelists is a lady who wrote only the subjects that were related to women which is not the main stay of this space. This is a very unbalanced view points as far as it is on china!

howardxue Author Profile Page:

Let's imagine some possible scenarios if the CCP can not survive the financial crisis or other possible unrests, and people face an opportunity of choosing a new ruling party (or a new ruling political coalition).

Will there be an emerging new party which claim that they can provide Chinese people more jobs, higher wages, better social satety protections and more liberal civil freedom?

If there will be, where will the members of this new party possibly come from? Elites? Middle class? Migrant workers? Urban unemployed? Brokers of foreign powers? Patriotic "angry youth"?

What will be their economic and political agenda? How will they fulfil their promises? Russia style "Shock therapy"? Economical nationalism? State Capitalism? Distribution of state wealth to the people? Selling state assets to foreign stakeholders? Chavez style reform? Open the market to leave small chinese private sector for titanic multi-nationals domination? Open the capital account to AIG, Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers and Madoff alike? Shut-door policy?

How will they ensure the issues widely discussed under current regime will be well addressed and finally solved? For example,
1. Systematic corruption,
2. weak social security net,
3. unequal rights of education and healthcare,
4. degraded envrionment,
5. aging population,
6. unemployment / underemployment,
7. SMEs fighting for survival,
8. threats to long-term safety of international market access, energy and raw material supply,
9. water crisis,
10. unrest of Tibet and Uigur,
11. risk of taiwan independence,
12. trade disputes in WTO,
13. human rights violations,
14. unproper law enforcement,
15. food and products safety,
16. widening income gape between urban and rural population, coastal regions and inner land,
16. media censorship and repression,
18. controversial land reform,
19. laggard infrastructure (electricity, railway, transportation, sanitation, etc.),
20. low income per capita,
21. border and maritime disputes with neighboring countries

It is obvious that ruling a emerging and complex China will never be an easy job, and it is up to chinese people to make the choose who is better for the job, and for their best interests. Is there a once-for-all remedy for it? I'm afraid NO. Who else may Chinese people count on? NOBODY.

Raoul2 Author Profile Page:

cdav531 states:

"I'm an American living and working in China and have posted here a few times and said basically the same thing. As hard as it is for some of us "Westerners" to believe, the overwhelming majority of Chinese have absolutely no interest in "democracy" as we define it. As long as they are given the opportunity to take care of their families and live a decent life they couldn't care less if they haven't the right to write a letter to the editor or vote in an election...."

My question to cdav531: how, exactly, do you know what "the overwhelming majority of Chinese" think or want? You've met them all? You base your views on what Chinese people tell you, a foreigner? Or you get this from the mainland's vaunted free press?

shane_beck Author Profile Page:

Zhao's book and it's effects on China are not the issue. The pro democracy movement in China has been dead and buried since Tiananmen Square. The real center of gravity is the american public opinion followed by public opinion in other areas such as northeast asia, southeast asia, southwest asia and europe. and some of that public opinion is a bit uneasy at the moment.

Donald2 Author Profile Page:


On Kent State, none of the killers were sent to jail. One may argue all the legal technicalities on whether or not the justice has been served, but the honest motive to use strong force to bring down a protest which may hurt national security (troops were fighting enemies and protesters were helping enemies) was similar to Tien-An-Men, except the internal power struggle part.

The major difference is the treatment in history in both events. The Chinese government sees TAM protest as anti-revolution, anti-party, and does not allow other versions. US society see Kent State as a mistake of government. I am sure Chenney will have different answer from Obama. But the freedon of duscussion is protected in US.

One important issue is US sees killing its own citizens as serious problem, but killing citizens of other countries are kind of OK. US also strongly oppose any government killing their own citizens. US even goes as far as to kill citizens of other countries if they don't protect their human rights.

It's hard to explain all of these. My simple explaination is: have gun, will travel.

thmak Author Profile Page:

To JohnRobertsFreeingTibet: How come you are so ignorant not to know that USA had imposed a tolally failed very restrictive embargo on
China years back. Your suggestions of boycott and other trade restrictions are nothing compared to embargo. I hope you understand.

thmak Author Profile Page:

To Dionald2": Do I have to remind you of the killing at Kent State?

Donald2 Author Profile Page:

To JohnRobertsFreeingTibet:

Democracy or not, the Tibet course won't be too much difference. A democract China may stop the unfair practice of subsidizing Tibet economy while Chinese in other parts of China work so hard. Tibetans should be treated equal and earn their own living.

Here is a true but sad story. A few Tibetans in Taiwan protest for years for their political position in China. No one pay any attention until election time that someone wants them to dress Tibetan traditional dress to create some photo op. They tried to use Tibetans. The message is clear: many people are playing the Tibet card. Tibet is only a chip to counter China, and is only part of China policy. When West needs to embarrass China, Dalai Lama's picture is on front page; when West needs China, Tibetans are forgotten. In a way, this is like Taiwan, or Afghanistan, unfortunately. Do you remember a movie of American hero John Rembo, working with Mujahaddin to fight Russians? I forgot how many times those Mujahaddin have bben treated like a friends or enemies, back and forth.

For the best benefit of Tibetans live in and outside of Tibet, I believe the best course is still to work with Chinese government and find some common ground. The dream of China's collapse is not practical. And even it happens, guess Tibetians will suffer or benefit more from it? American Indians experienced much worse history than Tibetians (At least Tibetan society is still intact except the salvery pary). Do you think it is practical for American Indians to bet their future on US collapse?

That's my free advice.

epremus Author Profile Page:

China doesn't need to remove all the socialist aspects of their society to become a democracy. The positives of socialisms can be reconciled to a democractic solution. The same is true in the US where we continue to operate under a Limited Democracy despite having the techology available to allow true democracy. We look forward to the day when the people of both nations are no longer bridled by our corrupt upper echelons and systems that don't let the people truly speak.
The CCP is not in danger and as China reforms slower than molasses, I don't see this having a large immediate effect. However, who knows the CCP came to be behind the power of the people. Potentially the people here and abroad will start having the nerve to begin merging the positives of Socialism with the positives of Capitalism. We both can follow the economic example of Germany and the social example of The Netherlands.

Doubter1 Author Profile Page:

Free Tibet, you say? You people are really desperate. Different versions of your rants have been heard for decades and they are getting really tiresome. A democratically elected Chinese government will be much tougher than current Communist regime. I have conducted an informal survey and found majority of Chinese I interviewed in Shanghai in October 2008 thought the Chinese government was too touchy-feely (they used the word, 'soft') about Tibetan hooligans and their western delusional counterparts. Get real!

JohnRobertsFreeingTibet Author Profile Page:

Pomfret has it right. The book will not cause much of a stir in China, although Zhao's late conversion to democracy will be welcome news to some. The way to cause a stir in China is to back Senator Stabenow's new bill, the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act of 2009, which will impose tariffs on products imported from China in retaliation for China's currency manipulation. Coupled with consumer boycotts of anything with the "Made in China" label, this can be effective in ending the regime's success with its export-driven growth strategy. Take away that economic success, and the regime will face great pressure from rising expectations suddenly dashed, which, as Mr. Pomfret notes above, is how revolutions happen. China is ripe for a democratic revolution, all it will take is a small push. Support the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act by writing your congressman or senator today! And do not buy anything with the "Made in China" label.

pgr88 Author Profile Page:

CDAV531 - Many Americans too have no interest in democracy as we know it.

Donald2 Author Profile Page:

THNMAK said:

"The June 4th students would not stop their months old demonstration unless their comprising demands are met. If this happen in USA, the USA military police will definitely employ all available power to suppress."

This is completely wrong.

If 100,000 occupy a big area for years, they will not be shot.

If some hundreds of people start a hunger strike till death, in the worst case, they will be forced to be injected food and water.

Even if someone hiding in the group shoot, there will not be shot as a group. The anti-riot police only divide large group into smaller groups.

cdav531 Author Profile Page:

I'm an American living and working in China and have posted here a few times and said basically the same thing. As hard as it is for some of us "Westerners" to believe, the overwhelming majority of Chinese have absolutely no interest in "democracy" as we define it. As long as they are given the opportunity to take care of their families and live a decent life they couldn't care less if they haven't the right to write a letter to the editor or vote in an election. The CCP leaders had a decision to make: liberalize politically or economically. At least the second option kept them in power so they chose that one. They still believe it was a wise decision and many Chinese agree.

thmak Author Profile Page:

To Jimeglrd8: It is a surprise that you still hold on to your idea even though you are in China where most people think differnet from you on matters most important to them. What good is an open and free society like USA. It has the highest number of people per capita in violation with the law, drove the whole world into an economic meltdown, has been engaged in unscrupulous wars in other countries more than any countries in the world. The June 4th students would not stop their months old demonstration unless their comprising demands are met. If this happen in USA, the USA military police will definitely employ all available power to suppress. I hope you understand. So the Tianamen event is considered as a revolt against the government and so is rightfully suppressed. I hope you don't have a anti-USA attitude as well as anti-China attitude.

Donald2 Author Profile Page:


"He didn't even care/realize the hosts anthem was playing. "

This is the fault of his support staff. At the time, Chinese leaders had little outside experience.

I know good looking is not a qualification because there is no election process. Compare President Ma to any mainland Chinese leaders, you can see the difference. The only exception is Wang Yi, the Director of Taiwan Affairs Office. I am sure his look has something to do with that position. If he ever visits Taiwan, I like to see how Taiwan tabloids cover him.

WantTheirSeats Author Profile Page:

And do not forget how TAM protests started. Students came out mainly to protest against the corruption by Zhao Ziyang and his three sons by remembering Hu Yaobang who was considered a clean guy.

If Zhao Ziyang thought he could have negotiated a peaceful outcome, he might be thinking about putting his three sons on trial for corruption.

WantTheirSeats Author Profile Page:

Uncle Zhao was a very readable man. You can sort of guess out what (and all) he would say. He was a sincere man but naive in politics and diplomacy.

We still remember the funny things he did when he was in power, eg. when he visited Canada, he was standing up with the Canadian PM (Trudeau) as the Chinese anthem was played, after the Chinese anthem finished he pulled the Canadian PM's clothes to ask him sit down. He didn't even care/realize the hosts anthem was playing.

Uncle Zhao was a man always thinking he was right. He did not understand nor cared others opinions. He might have done useful somethings in his life, but we've fogortten all that.

Donald2 Author Profile Page:

"major cause of instability in post-1949 China has been -- problems at the top of the Communist Party."

This is true, because China's political power is highly centralized. But there is a big change. In recent years, the economic resources are more in the hands of new business elites, unlike 20-some years ago.

However, looking at history, one should not forget the main source of problems in pre-1949 era: war lords, Japanese invasion and the war between Nationalists and Communists and tens of millions died. I must say, the post-1978 period is the best time in Chinese history since the Opium War. And stability, although a hateful word by some, has its due credit.

alex65 Author Profile Page:

I would agree Mr. Pomfret...but I hope the people of China need to know how cruel the communist dictatorship can be to avoid the repeat of history.

1989 marks the year when chinese communism died its overdue death. Precious lives were lost at the hands of heartless dictators. Their mothers are still sobbing sorrowfully...from the fogotten corners of this harmonious society.

jimeglrd8 Author Profile Page:

As an American living and working in Beijing I often post comments on China Daily. However, I know what they will print and what they won't. I am sure they will not allow any comments which include the name Zhao Ziyang. They will also refuse to print anything regarding the 30th anniversary of the Tianamen Square massacre of June, 1989.
It is true that China has made great progress in the last 30 years but it is still far from a free and open society. I was visiting Hong Kong several years ago when Mr. Zhao died. It was front page news in Hong Kong. When I returned to Beijing I was surprised to see that his death was reported in the China Daily but not as a major story.
Currently China is blocking access to You Tube.
Because of two recently released movies many Chinese have renewed anger against the Japanese massacre in Nanjing during the war. The movie "City of Life and Death", Chinese name Nanjing, Nanjing, is extremely graphic and it is impossible to watch this movie and not conclude that the Japanese are a very cruel and uncivilized people. Another movie "John Rabe" is also about the Nanjing massacre. Many Chinese complain that the Japanese have sanitized their history books to leave out what they did to Nanjing. However, the Chinese have done the same thing concerning Tiananmen Square of June, 1989.
Obviously the current Chinese leadership is afraid to talk about the crimes they committed against unarmed students in June, 1989. They continue to imprison some of those who helped organize the protests at Tiananmen Square.

chriswq Author Profile Page:

His era is gone, not coz of the ruling party, but coz chinese people do not need this guy today.
Definitely, related pages will be blocked in china.
Btw, some techs developed by US Navy and Army are successfully used to china's gfw...

thmak Author Profile Page:

To the dismay of Anti-China advocates, their hope of brainwashing the governing elite in China to western ideas is gone for a long time to come with the loss of Zhao from power. They must ask themselves why they had lost that opportunity and who in USA are responsible for not preventing that to happen. To those anti-China advocates, any major events in China as exemplified by Pomfret are exaggerated to be either terribly wrong or threats to western security. To the Chinese, those events are just self training to be able to stand up against heinous Western political aggression. After going through those major events and learning from them, China is able to made major progress as we see today and is able to stand against any foreign military, economic or politcal intrusion. If those
Chinese leaders are as bad as Zhao said, they would have continued to do terrible things and China would not have been what it is today. Too bad Zhao's book will not shake China.

steviana Author Profile Page:

I think the conclusion drawn by Pomfret is probably correct. Bsed on the reviews, most of the information in Zhao's book is known in the Tiananmen Papers, not to mention having been circulated for years even if without confirmation. In any event, the book and sites about it will be banned or blocked. So how can there be any major impact?

simplesimon33 Author Profile Page:

John Pomfret is absolutely right that Zhao’s book will NOT shake China. Chinese Communist Party is too powerful and has such a stranglehold on Chinese society that uprising by people can never succeed. Unless Communist Party splits at the top without military intervention, China is destined to be ruled by it as far as eye can see. All the predictions about China going democratic in due time by American pundits are mere wishful thinking.

DaveoftheCoonties Author Profile Page:

"Hungry Ghosts: Mao's Secret Famine" by Jasper Becker seems to be the main popular English-language book on the subject. My recollection is that Becker describes a situation where underlings are expected to feed Good News to their superiors, which they did. Incredible bumper crops, when people were starving. So the villages provided ample quantities of grain and China began exporting.

blasmaic Author Profile Page:

I've never seen a clear-minded analysis on loss of life during the Great Leap Forward. Unfortunately, those who died have had their numbers clouded in Cold War political rhetoric.

Assuming that China had released the truthful count of the dead, who believes that the West could accept it as correct?

Worse yet, if China, during the darkest days of the famine, had asked for help, who believes the West could have assisted without turning a humanitarian request into a political opportunity?

Observer88 Author Profile Page:

It will be interesting to see if this is true. Clearly the issue of Zhao Ziyang is very sensitive for the government, judging by the attached article from last April. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/08/world/asia/08china.html?_r=3

I agree though - I will have to ask my Chinese friends if websites on Zhao Ziyang or the book have been blocked.

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