‘On China’s “Rise” and the Environment’s Decline’ — Celebrating Dai Qing at Eighty

該內容僅提供英文版。

Spectres & Souls

In the late 1980s, Dai Qing (戴晴, 1941-) reintroduced both the word and the concept of the independent or liberal intellectual 自由派知識分子 to the Chinese reading public. It featured prominently in ‘Chu Anping and The Party Empire’ 儲安平與黨天下, her lengthy investigation into the case of Chu Anping (儲安平, 1909-?), founding editor of The Observer 觀察. (Launched on 1 September 1946, The Observer soon attracted leading writers and thinkers of the day to become the main forum for independent political and social debate during the Civil War. It was closed down by the Nationalist authorities on 24 December 1948. The Communists created an anodyne version of the journal under the title The New Observer 新觀察, and it appeared from 1950 until 1960. Twenty years later, The New Observer was revived and soon became a significant venue for reformist thinkers and writers. In turn, it was also forced to cease publication, in July 1989).

Chu Anping, who was denounced in 1957 for his criticism that the Communists had created a ‘Party Empire’ 黨天下, disappeared during the mêlée of 1966. Chu’s supposedly ‘anti-Party’ statements are referred to in the Elliptical History of the Chinese Communist Party 中國共產黨簡史, published to mark the Party’s centenary in 2021, as part justification for the Anti-Rightist Purge that claimed over 500,000 victims. Deng Xiaoping, the architect of the purge under Mao, eventually admitted that things had ‘got out of hand’. By refusing to rehabilitate half a dozen ‘frenzied Rightists’ like Chu Anping in 1978, however, Deng reaffirmed the importance to Party rule of ideological policing and the punishment of wayward intellectuals. This would be a central feature of his post-1989 legacy.

Long before her work on Chu Anping, Dai Qing had already been pursuing a kind of civic activism that was focussed both on some of the crucial historical wrongs of the Communists as well as on producing a widely read and influential series of interviews with a group of socially engaged thinkers, China’s nascent ‘public intellectuals’. The popularity of her ground-breaking historical investigations inspired both state-employed and independent historians and the interviews were serialised in Guangming Daily under the heading Scholars in Conversation 學者答問錄. They were published book form in 1988. All of Dai Qing’s work was banned in the wake of June Fourth 1989.

From her earliest writing on historical subjects, Dai Qing joined a small coterie of journalists, academics and oral historians determined to bypass Party strictures and ex cathedra rulings on the past. Taken collectively their work was a sotto voce and popular rebellion, part of cultural civil war between the power holders and concerned intellectuals and members of the public; the conflict has continued to unfold as a ceaseless tussle with the Communist Party over facts and interpretations of history, be it pre-dynastic, dynastic, or modern, that has its origins in the 1930s. The efforts of those writers in the 1980s contributed to broad based efforts to create spaces for civic engagement and activism that developed significantly further from the early 1990s following the devastation of what elsewhere we have called the Counter Reform era (4 June 1989-early 1992).

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Although both sides of the political divide in mainland Chinese life since 1989 have taken issue with her — the authorities banned her work in June 1989 and pro-Protest Movement activists and self-regarding non-official thinkers reject her as tainted both by her family connections and her nuanced political stance — Dai Qing has remained a significant independent writer, activist and critic of the status quo. That her personality and her outspokenness do not conform with the expectations of those who see the world in simplistic term has made her all the more unpalatable.

Regardless, Dai Qing was quick to recognised the importance of using whatever ‘spaces’ became available during the era of High Economic Reform from 1992 to 2012 — be they in publishing, in contact with Taiwan, in regard to environmental activism and advocacy, in using the suffocating limits of Chinese law to protect herself and others — and in doing so she has enjoyed a post-1989 career of meaningful social engagement that while straddling the Chinese world has also allowed her an international profile. Although banned on the mainland she has used whatever opportunities have presented themselves to continue her historical investigations (for example, on the Yan’an Rectification Movement, the tragic fate of the political philosopher Zhang Dongsun (張東蓀, 1886-1973) and the hydrologist Huang Wanli (黃萬里, 1911-2001), and environmental advocacy. Should she have been silenced, or simply gone off to use connections to make money? Should she have simply played the dissident, a role assigned to her by convention? Instead, Dai Qing has lived like the independent-minded people who have been the subject of much of her work over the past four decades. No matter how her critics may wish to diminish her achievement, it has been one of stubborn principle and sincere engagement. In China Heritage we celebrate her life in our series ‘Dai Qing at Eighty’. See:

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Probe International Fellow, activist and investigative historical journalist Dai Qing has been speaking out against the Three Gorges Dam since the 1980s. She published Yangtze! Yangtze! in 1989, a book of essays highlighting the concerns about the environmental and social effects of the dam, followed by The River Dragon has Come! in 1998. Her earlier books include Wang Shiwei and ‘Wild Lilies’ and In the Buddha’s Palm: Zhang Dongsun and His Era.

Since her release from prison in May 1990, Dai Qing has faced constant harassment by the authorities and remains banned from publishing in China. Over the years, through her collaborations, writing and activism she has fought for freedom of the press, government accountability and open public debate about the environment, in particular issues related to the Three Gorges Dam and China’s ongoing water crisis.

Dai Qing’s most recent book is The Most Dammed Country in the World (August 2021), a collection of speeches and writings on dams and water published as part of the ‘Green Ideas’ series produced by Penguin Books.

As Dai has observed,

‘I live in the “most dammed” country in the world, and am part of the “silenced majority”.’

The following speech, which Dai Qing presented at the Munk Center of the University of Toronto on 26 October 2010, reflects a sense of crisis — and disgust — that was widespread during the second term of the Hu Jintao-Wen Jiabao duumvirate, 2008-2012. Although Xi Jinping’s near decade in power has gestured at addressing some of the issues that Dai Qing raises with unflagging candor, it would be both careless and ill-informed to regard the Xi Jinping Restoration 習近平中興 as being able to respond in any fundamental and lasting way to the entrenched and systemic flaws bred into a system of one-party, one-man rule that is unaccountable, non-transparent and narcissistic.

Dai Qing’s speech is an indictment of China’s ‘rise’ and, by extension, a critique of craven international exploitation of that rise. Despite appearances to the contrary, to this day the Red Nobility — a warren-like underground network of families and individuals with which Dai is deeply familiar — remains a steadfast constituency of Xi Jinping’s rule.

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We are grateful to Patricia Adams of Probe International and Dai Qing for permission to reprint this speech. The formatting of the original has been retained, although we have revised the translation. The original Chinese text of the speech, provided by Dai Qing, is appended to the English translation.

— Geremie R. Barmé
Editor, China Heritage
22 October 2021

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Further Reading:

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Recalling Ye Jianying

Ye Jianying with Ye Xiangzhen (left) and Fu Xiaoqing (aka Dai Qing), Beihai Park, Beiping, July 1946. Courtesy of Dai Qing

The 22nd October 2021 is the thirty-fifth anniversary of the death of Ye Jianying 葉劍英, the military leader in whose family Dai Qing was raised. Ye played a key role in the Huairentang Coup 懷仁堂政變 of October 1976 during which Mao Zedong’s most loyal acolytes, the ‘Gang of Four’, were detained at Zhongnanhai in Beijing. Ye Xiangzhen (葉向真, 1941-), the marshal’s daughter and adoptive sister of Dai Qing, recounted the events surrounding the coup in an interview re-broadcast by Sun Satellite TV on 6 October 2021.

GRB


崛起 juéqǐ: thrust upwards; rise up; precipitous

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China’s “Rise” and the Environment’s Decline

Dai Qing

26 October 2010

Translated by Probe International
(with emendations by China Heritage)

 

The whole world is talking about “China’s rise.” Even the Chinese people themselves—especially officials and the official media—describe the current situation as the achievement of “a prosperous society” brought about by “the miracle of economic growth.”

  • We behold China’s annual GDP growth and the government’s stash of foreign bonds.
  • We behold skyscrapers and the Bird’s Nest Stadium.
  • We behold the largest dam in the world, the Three Gorges project.
  • Behold the country’s massive export of toys and electrical appliances.
  • China is also looking to space and has launched its second unmanned lunar probe.

Not so obvious, however, is that China has another very special “export:” the ideology of authoritarianism—a very special export that feeds China’s “rise” and makes China seem even more powerful.

The most attractive new faces advertising “China’s success today”—the poster children of a “rising China”—are the new rich Chinese who have emerged in China and elsewhere in the world over the past 20 years. These people are lavish, smart, and arrogant. They feel they can do anything they want, and that there is nothing they cannot do. In China, they are known as the newborn Red Nobility. The Red Nobles are government officials and their family members, or at least those with very strong links to these government officials (former secretaries, etc.) who have their careers in China.

They are conspicuously wealthy, elitist and self-confident.

Recently, netizens have coined a term for the new special elite called “Naked Officials.” These “Naked Officials” move their cash and their loved ones—wife, children, concubine—abroad, buying houses and cars for them in their new countries of residence. Meanwhile, the “Naked Officials” themselves continue to live in China, although they usually have several passports in hand and are prepared to escape China at any moment to join their families (and lovers) abroad.

Is this evidence of China’s “rise”? Shouldn’t we ask some questions about this supposed miracle of growth and prosperity? Such as:

  • Is this “rise” like manna from heaven?
  • Or does it come at a cost to the Chinese people and the world? If so, what is that price?
  • Before answering this question, we must have a look at today’s People’s Republic of China. What kind of country is it in the modern age?
  • What is the nature of its “rise,” and why didn’t the “rise” occur during the Qing Dynasty in the 19th century when the Industrial Revolution brought prosperity to many countries?
  • Why didn’t the “rise” occur at the end of World War II, when China joined the ranks of the victors as one of the “Four Allies”?
  • Why didn’t the rise occur in the Mao era, when “the People became the masters of their own country”?
  • And why didn’t it occur in the 1980s, when the Communist Party of China began to rethink its many errors, to relax its grip on society and to implement the policy of “economic reform and opening up”?
  • Why has China only “risen” in the past two decades, after the tanks ran over Tiananmen Square and shocked the people of China into a terrified silence. All levels of society were reduced to silence: high-level party officials, scholars and professors, local officials and cadres, state-owned enterprise managers and workers, private business owners, and students currently in school or recently graduated.

If the ruling party could order the People’s Army to fire on the people, what wouldn’t it do? People asked what kind of “People’s Republic” are we? At this zero hour, the paramount leader Deng Xiaoping gave the answer—he reportedly said  that, yes, 1,000 have been killed, but, “I believe it would be worthwhile to kill 200,000 to buy 20 years of stability for us.”

The Beijing Massacre set the stage for the Red Nobles’ “political reform”—only it was not the reform that the students and other demonstrators had agitated for, rather it was the kind of reform that Deng Xiaoping would soon introduce. He announced it during his Southern Tour in early 1992 when, during his time the newly risen commercial hub of Shenzhen he dismissed labels such as capitalism and socialism and declared that “development is the priority” and “let some people get rich first.”

Deng’s declaration freed the leadership from their paralysis that had gripped the country since Tiananmen.

The ruling elite suddenly knew that as public servants they were really free to serve themselves, as long as they kept it on the down low and abided by the “lie-low rule”— which they describe as “using your power as much as you can and as soon as possible before it runs out.”

But does the political system, which continues today, really suit the needs of the newborn Red Nobles?

Let me take a step back and try to explain events in terms of poem Mao wrote in 1973, just three years before his death. Very few of you probably know it since it has never been formally published. In the time that remained to him, Mao didn’t arrange its publication and since it revealed more about his regime than they were comfortable with, his comrades were too scared to release it. For the theme of the poem is the ‘Qin system’, that is the political system of the Qin dynasty, the first unified imperial dynasty in Chinese history.

Qin Shihuang, the first emperor, imposed his iron will on China. He did not rely on the authority of Confucius; why should he rely on a mere thinker and educator? The Qin emperor did not need any of that to maintain order, and neither did Mao.

If some of you are here from the officially branded Confucius Institute, perhaps this poem will have a special meaning for you.

Mao composed the following as a criticism of an article written by Guo Moruo in 1948, a time when the Nationalist President Chiang Kai-shek was still in power. In his article Guo had compared Chiang to the autocratic Qin Shihuang and offered praise for Confucius. Writing a quarter of a century later, Mao rejected Guo’s thesis on both counts:

I caution you not to criticise the Emperor of Qin,
There’s still more to say about burning books and burying scholars.
The ancestral dragon may be dead but Qin lives on,
While Confucian scholarship despite its reputation is but chaff.
A hundred generations have pursued the rule of Qin,
So what you have to say is less than useless.
Re-read “On Feudalism” by Liu Zongyuan of the Tang,
Don’t retreat to King Wen [and Confucius] of the Warring States.

[Note: This translation is based on that in Geremie R. Barmé, ‘For Truly Great Men, Look to This Age Alone’ — Watching China Watching (XII), China Heritage, 27 January 2018]

Ever since the Qin Dynasty in 200 BCE, the expression “Qin system of Rule” 秦制 has lived on as a term to describer the iron hand of autocratic power and centralized rule. And, like the Qin, Chinese emperors exploited the common people for two millennia. They levied farm rents and taxes, they used forced labour, and they pursued whatever means of exploitation that was required. At the same time, to discourage dissent, each emperor promoted his own brand of Confucianism with the aim of  maintaining social order by promoting deference. This was the status quo and the core of imperial control for two thousand years.

Did the fact that the last emperor of the ruling Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) was ejected from the former Imperial Palace in the 1920s help usher in a new spirit of change? Okay, Chinese men cut their pigtails [which had been an outward symbol of subjugation to the Manchu rulers of the Qing] and took to wearing Western-style suits. People started talking about China becoming a republic with a constitution and a functioning democracy and society as a whole bristled with hope and enthusiasm. But the centralized political and legal system of the past remained substantially intact, clinging to the soul of China, bedeviling the hearts of rulers and ruled alike. Now China would have a succession of modern-day emperors known by other titles—be it president, chairman, or general secretary.

This was the case under Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist government, just as it was under the people’s government of Mao Zedong. They were both haunted by the ghost of Qin Shihuang—what Mao called the “Ancestral Dragon”—and it continues to haunt China’s political psyche today.

Chiang Kai-shek was particularly unlucky since during his reign on the mainland from 1927 to 1949 he didn’t even manage to enjoy one day of peace: war with the warlords was followed by the Japanese invasion and then the civil war with the Communists. By all rights, during the twenty-seven years of Mao’s rule, from 1949 up to his death in 1976, China should have enjoyed a peaceful era; instead what did we get? Declassified documents, released last month, reveal that in 1950 Stalin had made a deal with Mao which said in effect that: “I’ll manage the European side of things [that is, the Soviet bloc], and you can take care of Asia.”

I don’t know how many officials in the inner circle of the Communist Party knew about that deal but what we do know  is that after the deal was made, Mao began to think of himself not just as the leader of China, but of all of the oppressed peoples of the East. It became his dream, his “responsibility,” to reach beyond China’s border and that explains why, in 1950, despite the objections of nearly all of his comrades he decided that China should “pull chestnuts out of the fire” on Stalin’s behalf,[1] and act as his “cat’s paw” as the major combatant in the Korean War.

[Note 1: 火中取栗. In other words, when the job gets too difficult to handle let others do it. This expression is based on the fable of the monkey that asks its companion, a cat, to help remove the roasting chestnuts from the fire with its paws. While the cat does so, the monkey eats the roasted chestnuts, leaving the cat with nothing but burnt paws.]

It also explains why three generations of Chinese (those born from 1910 to the 1970s) were reduced to a level of poverty that made them, in particular farmers on the nationalized communes, little more than farm slaves.

Virtually no-one in the Communist elite, from the highest echelon in Beijing to the grassroots in the villages, dared to question Mao, their “emperor,” about his political and economic strategy, no matter how absurd it was—this included the ceaseless political campaigns like land reform, the transformation of private enterprise, the purge of ‘Rightist’ intellectuals, the Great Leap Forward; not to mention the frequent internal factional warfare within the Communist Party itself. All of the early movements and purges contributed to the mass famine of the late 1950s and early 1960s, a peacetime disaster that ended up starving over thirty million people to death.

As a result, by the time Mao died in 1976, China was on the brink of economic and social collapse. His factional allies, the so-called “Gang of Four” was purged and, yet again, people celebrated what they hoped would truly be a liberation. However, although it was easy to arrest a few individuals, again it proved impossible to eliminate the autocratic habits of millennia. Deng Xiaoping’s rise to power led to a new stage in China’s long history of centralized authoritarian rule. It may have ended the chaos that featured under Mao but, as Deng said to Jiang Zemin [who was made head of the Party in June 1989], “Chairman Mao had the final say when he was alive, and now that he’s gone, I have the last word. When you are in this position and have the final say, my heart can rest at ease.”

But what about the Chinese Communists—all the former rebels and idealists—who followed Mao through the agonies of the Long March; who followed him into the so-called “Anti-Japanese War” [see: Dai Qing’s comments in ‘Dai Qing on the 1911 Revolution’]; who held high the red flag with tears in their eyes when the People’s Republic of China was established in 1949? What kind of “communist fighters” were they supposed to be now be? And what sort of ideals could they follow?

The whole world embraced China when it began to “reform the economy and to open its door to the world.” It was a perfect opportunity for the country to become integrated with the outside world and also to acknowledge the importance of humanity’s shared universal values—just like [following 1989] the countries of the former Soviet Bloc, and even Russia and Vietnam, to an extent.

In the 1980s, that’s pretty much what the situation appeared to be. Unfortunately, when the students massed in Tiananmen Square in 1989 followed by the government’s bloody suppression, China’s modernizing trajectory changed, and the most visible transformation was within the “souls” of the country’s political elite.

Before Tiananmen, during both the Mao era and the reform years of the 1980s, the elite never really challenged the ruler. Among other things, they were heavily influenced by an idealistic belief in socialism, public ownership, the planned economy and a commitment to “Serve the People”. After Deng Xiaoping’s Southern Tour in 1992, when he declared that “getting rich is glorious,” the Communists, officials, their families and their cronies devoted themselves to creating a bureaucratic system of state capitalism. Any former idealists were sidelined by new Red technocrats and a form of state capitalism developed apace that was not a market-driven economy as such. It was built by bureaucrats and technocrats who in effect privatized state assets for their own gain. This soulless system has existed now for nearly twenty years.

Following Deng’s declaration of “development as the top priority” came Jiang Zemin’s “quietly making a big fortune.” Under the banner of “representing the interests of the people” the Red Technocrats became more and more powerful. At first, they were able to grab money by means of special policies and dedicated back channels, including manipulation of the foreign currency exchange and insider knowledge about shortages of materials. Then they turned to making money through the sale of weapons and, thanks to the privileged access they enjoyed, by overseeing major state-funded projects.

Such money-making opportunities are no longer sufficient. The Red Technocrats have since moved into banking and the manipulation of the stock market, as well as real estate and land development—something that has become the most important source of income for local government officials.

Nonetheless, State President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao are just traveling along the path laid out by Deng, although their central strategy is for “state-owned enterprises to advance, while the private economy make way.”

In the eight years of their administration [2003-2010], all levels of the government have enacted administrative measures that have allowed them to extend monopoly control over highly profitable enterprises—whether it be in shipping, railways, electricity, energy, telecommunications, or other major sectors of the economy. And the CEOs of state-owned enterprises have profited from the “two accounts” policy that has ensured that their monopolies are protected even as they pocket profits. The salary of a general manager in a state-run enterprise might be 100 times more than that of a worker. These bosses make up the backbone of what is now a powerful and corrupt privileged class.

When Hu stresses the point that the government is “maintaining (social) stability” and “avoiding self-inflicted setbacks,” what he really means is that they are “busy making money by exploiting the people, so please do not disturb.”

What kind of life have the Chinese people led under sixty years of a one-party state? It is summed up by a saying that is widely circulated by netizens[2] that sums up the sixty years of the Red Empire-People’s Republic of China – from Mao to Deng and then on to Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao.

[Note 2: Unable to participate openly in civic matters, Chinese citizens interact with each other and express their opinions and hold debates on the Internet, hence their description as “Netizens.”]

This saying goes like this:

In the name of revolution, they justified killing;
In the name of the people, they justified nationalization;
In the name of reform, they divided the spoils of the nation;
In the name of harmony, everyone must now shut their mouths.

But not everyone has shut up. Liu Xiaobo, China’s first Nobel Peace Prize winner, refused to shut up and so the rulers sentenced him to jail for eleven years. Ai Weiwei, China’s most bold and daring artist, and the poet Tan Zuoren, also refused to shut up and they tried to expose how many children were killed by poorly constructed “bean-curd-dregs” schools that crumbled during in the Wenchuan Earthquake of May 2008. Both of them were beaten and jailed for speaking up.

Today, elite interest groups have emerged in the Communist Party and they are active in all sectors of national life: the Party, government and the military; in the fields of science and technology; in education and culture, medicine, healthcare … everywhere. And they are active at every level of power: from the Party’s Politburo Standing Committee, to bureaucrats at the provincial, urban, county, township and village levels. All of them are doing their utmost to use the power they have for themselves and their families. Their approach is to “make the cake [of the economy] bigger” so they can “cut larger slices” and share the pieces among themselves while free from either legal or civilian oversight. How do they make the cake bigger? By taking the easiest, safest, and fastest way, of course: by exploiting society’s “vulnerable groups.”

As Qin Hui, a noted professor of history at Tsinghua University has observed: the secret of China’s “rise” lies in its “human rights deficit”—that is to say, the lack of basic rights has allowed the state to exploit workers throughout the country provinces, our natural resources, and the environment. To put it more plainly, in China:

  • There are no independent trade unions, farmers’ unions; no chambers of commerce or industry associations. There are only countless silent workers who have no real sense of their rights and no channels of complaint or redress;
  • There no truly independent media outlets or independent academic research organizations. All avenues of communication—television, radio, newspapers, publishing houses, research institutes and universities—are either mouthpieces of the government or subject to the party’s control and censure;
  • There are no independent or registered human rights or environmental NGOs, or independent foundations. Those public interest researchers and lawyers who try to act as watchdogs and uphold the Chinese Constitution are themselves watched and suppressed even as they strain to contribute to the peaceful transition of China so it can become a country that really enjoys the rule of law; and
  • There are no meaningful safeguards for environmental protection. The Constitution, stipulates that all land, rivers, forests, and mineral resources are state-owned. In practice, this means that they fall within the purview of state officials and, any official who manages to lay his or her hands on some of our resources effectively owns them. The result is that land grabs have become the primary means for officials at all levels to enrich themselves.

Over the past twenty years, this system and China’s so-called “rise” has led to the further and ongoing destruction of the country’s resources and environment:

  • 80% of the rivers and lakes are drying up;
  • 60% of the water in seven major river systems is unsuitable for human contact;
  • One third of the land is contaminated by acid rain;
  • Two thirds of the grassland has become desertified and most of the forest cover is gone; and,
  • Water systems and soil have been severely polluted by fertilizers and pesticides, with 40% of arable land degraded.

China has also become the world’s factory, and the world’s dumping ground as well. Sixteen of the world’s twenty most polluted cities are in China.

These are the tangible costs of China’s “rise” in regard to the nation’s resources and environment, but what about the burden on our people and on the nation as a whole?

Nowadays, the career path that most people hope to follow is one of becoming a government official; that’s because it is seen as being a gateway to becoming rich. More traditional concepts related to a work ethic have been grievously undermined by the extractive mentality. With neither a belief in traditional values nor confidence in the rule of law, money is the be-all and end-all for almost everyone. This is a universal Chinese value and people have become extremely adept at playing with power: their obsequiousness is cringeworthy but they are also deeply envious of what power can do. They are driven by the sense that they, too, must become rich and the best way to do that is to follow the example of their superiors, even if it means tyrannizing the weak and plundering public resources.

Given today’s “Qin-style of rule,” many people know that they can get away with just about anything, so long as they keep quiet about politics. They are free to chase money, no matter how immoral the pursuit. Of course, the upper echelons rake in the lion’s share of the spoils; they hand out morsels to those who follow the rules of the game, and are smart enough never to challenge them.

As Mao observed in his 1973 poem, “A hundred generations have pursued the rule of Qin.” That age-old system continues to flourish today in the hands of the Communists. They have perfected the art of rulership with devastating efficiency and skill.

But, what about the environment, is it sustainable?

Friedrich Hayek once said that a tyrannical government without any restriction can only result in war and enslavement. Today, because we have an authoritarian system in China, our resources, our environment and the welfare of the people are not secure. I would argue that China’s great “rise” is no real rise at all, for it has resulted in the wholesale devastation of the country’s rivers, land, forests, as well as the misdirection of the people and a subversion of the nation itself.

Given the  political environment of China today, what can we as residents, citizens and netizens do?

I believe that we must confront and tell the truth about the true costs of “China’s rise.” We must be prepared to act, not just as a netizen hiding behind a keyboard, but as a true citizen who agitates as best they can for such basic rights as the freedom of speech, assembly and public oversight of government. We must use our wiles to fight this modern-day “Qin-style dictatorship” and we must insist on our constitution rights, not for the “right to rebel” or make revolution, but for the right that are truly ours.

The struggle will be protracted, but we can and will not give up.

Thank you.


Chinese Text:

中國「崛起」 環境何堪

戴 晴

 

全世界都在說中國”崛起”。中國人自己——特別是官員和官媒,更把自己當前的所處日子,形容為“經濟增長神話”帶來的“繁榮盛世”。

如果看GDP的年增長;看中國政府貨幣存量;看他們手裡握著的外國債券;看大小城市突然冒出的高樓大廈;看奧運、看世博、看世界第一的三峽工程,看嫦娥二號登月;看玩具電器之外,中國已開始出口意識形態……以及“中國模式”最大看點:近20年裡突然冒出來的中國闊人——看這批闊綽、瀟灑、神氣活現、沒什麼不敢幹(也自認為沒什麼不能幹)、看那幫在“中國為官到外國建窩”的紅色貴族——中國像是崛起了。

但“崛起”是天上掉下來的麼?“崛起”是沒有代價的麼——代價是什麼?

回答這個問題之前,我們看看今天這個中華人民共和國是一個什麼樣的國家;以及,這“崛起”為什麼沒有發生在19世紀的清廷——當工業革命為不少國家帶來繁榮;沒有發生在二戰結束時——當時中國被目為“盟國四強”之一;沒有發生在“人民當家作主”的毛澤東中國;沒有發生在共產黨開始反思、社會開始鬆綁、而且推行“改革開放”的1980年代;怎麼到了坦克碾過天安門、到了中國從上到下——從共党高層、學者教授,各級官員、國企幹部工人、私企業主,以及在校和剛剛離校的學生……都被驚嚇得大氣不敢出之後,反倒“崛起”了?

中國是一個歷史悠長的中央集權國家。

主持人告訴我,你們(即在场听众——编者)當中有人來自孔子學院。現在世界各處,由中國政府出錢建起的孔子學院,大概500多了吧(據稱“漢辦”計畫,2010年500;2020年1000。)

孔子學院的主辦者們知道毛澤東那首詩麼——那首到了文革後期,忽然想到要答覆郭沫若1948年所寫“十批”(郭當時用秦始皇影射蔣介石以反專制獨裁)的那首詩?毛的這首七律至今沒有正式發表,為什麼?

七律贈郭老

勸君少罵秦始皇,
焚坑之事待商量。
祖龍雖死魂猶在,
孔子名高實稗糠。
歷代都行秦王政,
十批不是好文章。
熟讀唐人封建論,
莫從子厚返文王。

——毛澤東 1973

在毛澤東看來,“祖龍雖死魂猶在,孔子名高實稗糠”;對孔學,用他當時的話說,就是“廢話屁話”。在“無產階級”行其“專政”到了頂峰的1973年,他說“歷代都行秦王政,十批不是好文章”。今天呢?是不是“秦王政”依舊?

只須對中國史稍有涉獵,都知道:自秦代起,中國歷代皇帝都以中央集權的方式,靠田租、賦稅、徭役,以及他隨時想出的花樣(比如明代嘉靖打發太監四處收取、最後激起民變的“礦稅”),對平民直接剝奪。同時用改造過的“孔學”,加上忠於他的官僚系統和軍隊,直接操作並且護駕。至於什麼是改造過的“孔學”,百年來已有共識——適合於“秦王政”的意識形態。

皇帝被趕出宮,大家剪掉辮子換西裝,“共和”與“憲政”進入中國,場面火爆熱鬧,唯中央集權之法統,還頑固地駐守在中國人(包括統治者與被統治者)的精神世界——

“有槍才有權”的北洋政府如此。蔣介石的國民政府如此。毛澤東的中央人民政府也是這樣。與今日不同的是,1927年蔣介石以武力拿下政權之後,幾乎沒有一天不處於戰亂之中(1928年開始圍剿紅軍、1937年對日作戰、1946年大規模內戰)。 毛澤東也是以武力奪下中國——此後的25年,也就是他死前控制中國的這25年,本來可以沒有戰爭:國家和平發展、百姓安居樂業……但事實如何呢?

最近解密檔披露,1950年,史達林對他曾有一個許諾:“歐洲這邊的事我來管,亞洲歸你負責”。自此以後,做“東方”(或稱“第三世界”)被壓迫民族和人民的領袖,成了這名紅色帝王此後一刻也放不下的政治夢幻。

這就是為什麼在1950年代初,他抗拒身邊幾乎所有“同志們”的意見而捲入韓戰;也解釋了怎麼整整三代中國人,特別是失去土地淪為“社員”(其實就是農工奴隸)的農民,從此生活於僅僅維持活命的水準上。

將毛視為天子的中共政治精英,也即從中央到省、到市、直到基層鄉鎮和村裡的麾下們(過去稱“幹部”;如今稱“公務員”),隨著將全國的資源與資產(包括帝國主義的、地主的、資本家的和平民的)徹底收歸“國有”,依照蘇聯模式一個接一個地推行“五年計劃”。面對和平時期替史達林打韓戰、無休止的內鬥和大規模平民餓死,竟然沒有人敢於質疑“皇上”的治國方略。到1970年代,中國的國計民生“已經處於崩潰的邊緣”。

毛澤東死了。直接繼承“毛精神”與“毛主義”的接班人(“四人幫”)經一場乾脆俐落的軍事政變遭清肅。

人民再一次歡呼“解放”。只可惜,澱積千年的政治文化沒有可能在一天內清點盤查。鄧小平以集權手段收拾大局。他對自己選定的江澤民這樣說:“主席在世的時候他老人家說了算,主席不在了我說了算。什麼時候你說了算了,我就放心了。”

皇上底下的精英們呢?長征時候咬緊牙關跟著;抗日時候悶頭發展;建國時捧著紅旗熱淚長流;反右時候的懵懵然、文革時候的秫秫然、開槍之後茫茫然(包括被放到最高位置的江澤民)——直到1992年。

1992年非同小可。不見硝煙、不見呼號,旗子的顏色都沒變,但“勞苦大眾當家作主的中國”正從精神上一步步抽空。從文革地獄撿回一條命的皇上底下人(或曰“出生入死的老幹部”們)開始納悶:“共產黨打天下坐天下,這是沒有疑問的。但打下來之後的‘吃香喝辣、有福大家享’呢?”沒人敢提,直到開槍之後——在“理想”啊,“人民”啊,除了官家舞臺操練已然成為一文不值的1990年代初,共產精英們終於有了感覺。

這就是鄧小平的“讓一部分人先富起來”;“不管姓社姓資”;還有“發展是硬道理”。

本來,自1970年代末,中國開始“改革與開放”。世界對此報以熱情歡迎。中國本有融入世界並且共同尊奉普世價值的可能——就像東歐各國,哪怕俄國、越南那樣。應該說,在“思想解放”的十年間,即1970至1980年代末,大致也是這樣。不幸“六四”鎮壓改變了中國——完全改變了中國近代化的軌跡,開始了中國政治精英的集體“換魂”。

如果說,在毛澤東時代,以及“改革開放初期”的1980年代,雖然皇權色彩濃重,朝廷裡的僚屬,從翰林、巡撫到縣鄉承辦,不管怎麼提拔上來,多少總帶有幾分理想色彩,還相信社會主義、公有制、計劃經濟、“為人民服務”,還在一定程度對“黨紀”“國法”還有幾分忌憚……。到1992年“鄧小平南巡”,中共實際上走上了一條借操作國家經濟體制轉型、以侵吞國有資產為主要手段的“權力主導貌似市場經濟”的權貴資本主義道路,並逐步建立起一套為達到此目標的獨特運作手段。早期共產主義理想者已經徹底邊緣化。他們的繼位人變為追求現實利益的紅色技術官僚——誰說中國的政治領袖不進行政治體制改革?這一換魂兼更衣,已經在1993年至今的十多年間,在大家心照不宣地“摸著石頭”、你爭我奪地“和諧”完成。

繼鄧的“發展是硬道理”之後,是江澤民的“悶聲發大財”。打出的旗號麼:“廣大人民利益的代表”。手段已經從早期的玩差價、賣軍火、辦公司等“小打小鬧”進步到稅改、房改、國企改,完成了對城鎮居民的剝奪。隨著越來越多權勢集團精英(以及親屬) 加入外國國籍,再返回中國借“引進外資”之優惠大規模、深層次捲入,中國經已經一步步落入真假外資的掌控之中。

胡溫照樣朝前走,核心政策是“國進民退”。在他們當政的這八年間,凡經市場證明利潤豐厚的行業,各級政府無不立即採用行政手段壟斷:從航運、鐵路、電力,到能源(“三桶油”)電訊(電信、移動、聯通)……。國企老總“兩頭占”:壟斷地位由政府保障,利潤歸己,成為權貴特權階級骨幹。胡溫強調“維穩”兼“不折騰”,包括調用警力軍力予以保障——意思是“正忙著剝奪分贓哪,不要打攪”。

用今日流行在民間的說法:中華人民共和國,從毛到鄧到江到胡這一連串紅色帝王“坐江山60年”,概括起來就是:

以革命的名義 殺戮
以人民的名義 共產
以改革的名義 分贓
以和諧的名義 封口

這也就是要求言論自由與法制的劉曉波以“顛覆國家罪”判刑11年的道理。

今天,在中國,共產精英既得利益集團已經形成。就領域而言:黨、政、軍,科教文、醫藥衛生……無所不包。就層次而言:從最高的中共政治局常委,到省、市、縣、鄉、村,到最底層辦事機構,無人不在依仗權力為個人和家族謀利。

他們面臨的共同命題是“把蛋糕做大”。然後在既無法律制度、也沒有民間監督的環境下“切”。如何做大——當然以最簡便、最安全、最迅捷的辦法。

秦暉說:中國崛起的秘密在於“低人權優勢”:民工、資源與環境。

  • 在中國,我們沒有獨立的工會、沒有農會、沒有商會和行業協會——只有取之不竭的、沒有權利意識也沒有投訴管道的無聲的勞工。
  • 在中國,我們沒有獨立的傳媒和獨立的學術研究——只有因主動服從管制而日漸闊綽的電視、廣播、報紙、出版社和研究院、大學。
  • 在中國,我們沒有獨立的、獲得註冊的人權與環境NGO,沒有獨立的基金會,有志者的活動時刻處在監管與打壓之下。

弱勢之中之最弱:資源和環境。

依照《憲法》,中國的土地、河流、森林、礦藏……包括我們以全部積蓄購買的公寓房下邊的土地,全部屬於國有。何謂國有?今天,國有變成了政府和政府官員所有。誰伸手霸佔就屬於誰。

誰不想霸佔、誰不想伸手呢?中國官場最流行的潛規則是:有權不用,過期作廢。——不過20年,中國資源和環境已經遭到災難性破壞。

  • 80% 江河湖泊斷流枯竭;
  • 七大河流體系的60%的水不適宜於人類接觸;
  • 1/3 國土被酸雨污染,2/3 草原荒漠化,絕大部分森林消失;
  • 化肥和農藥嚴重地污染了水系統和土壤,40%的可耕地退化;
  • 中國成為世界工廠,也成為世界的垃圾場:世界污染最嚴重的20個城市中,中國占 16個。(以上為世行統計)

1996年,中國耕地總面積19.5億畝,人均1.43畝,不足世界平均水準的40%。從1996-2007年,中國耕地面積在7年減少了1億畝,平均每年減少1429萬畝。其中6個省的人均耕地,已經低於0.8畝警戒線。在2008-2010五年間,“土地流轉”已經成為各級官員致富的主要手段。

如此“崛起”的後果

今天中國從上到下,從官到民,都處在一個轟轟烈烈的“改革”遊戲中:

  • 弱勢已經並且繼續受到無可遏制的剝奪;
  • 民間力量被壓制、龐大貪婪的特權官僚集團受不到監督、約束和制裁;
  • 人人都把環境掛在嘴上,幾乎沒人願意為環境犧牲到手的利益。

全國上下彌漫在“分杯羹”的馴民文化之中。

什麼樣的大地能供養這樣的國民?中國的山河已經做出回應:汶川地震、舟曲泥石流、北京沙風暴、河北地面塌陷……。

無規則、無理想、無責任感,只有“為撈錢相機行事的機會主義靈感”

更多的人則一種表面馴服姿態與政權開始一種新的博弈,以一種補償的心理(阿貓阿狗都能富起來,怎麼我不能?)玩命地欺壓弱者、掠奪資源、追求財富。

中國人知道,只要不碰政治,任何追求財富的方式(哪怕再缺德的方式)都可行——只要你想得出來。當權者也心知肚明:有人吃肉有人喝湯,胡蘿蔔加大棒之後的“和諧”,杜絕民眾挑戰官僚政權的壟斷統治。這是1989年之後小民與政權之間達成的一種不許明說(或曰人人心知肚明)的默契。從而我們知道,中國“崛起”的核心,恰如毛澤東所說:“百代皆行秦王政”——只是場面更加絢爛(如奧運與世博)、手段更加高效(如投資巨大的武警、國保、網路監控)而已。

諾貝爾和平獎授予正在獄中服刑的劉曉波表明,在人類社會中,不代表大國政治博弈、不代表集團公司利益、只代表今天的人類文明走向。

中國“崛起”沒弄得他們眼花繚亂,中國市場沒讓他們見利忘義,中國既得利益集團精英的狂傲無知反倒堅定了他們的價值取向。世界將越來越洞悉付出如此代價的中國“崛起”,將給世界和平帶來什麼。

秦王政——獨裁政治體制——在中國存在一天,資源環境和平民利益不會得到保障。我們的努力是微弱的,但不敢放棄呀。

謝謝大家。