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).
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:
- ‘Celebrating Dai Qing at Eighty’; and,
- ‘Commemorating a Different Centenary — Dai Qing on the 1911 Revolution’
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.
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
- Dai Qing 戴晴, ‘Thirsty Dragon at the Olympics’, The New York Review of Books, 6 December 2007
- Dai Qing, ‘1948: How Peaceful was the Liberation of Beiping?’, The Sixty-eighth Morrison Lecture, 5 September 2007
- Dai Qing, guest editor, ‘The Heritage of Beijing Water’, China Heritage Quarterly, Issue 16 (December 2008)
- For more essays by Dai Qing in English, see here.
- ‘Using the Past to Save the Present: Dai Qing’s Historiographical Dissent’, East Asian History, No.1, June 1991: 141-181)
- Geremie R. Barmé, ‘The Children of Yan’an: New Words of Warning to a Prosperous Age 盛世新危言’, China Heritage Quarterly, Issue 26 (June 2011)
- The Editor and Others, ‘The Party Empire’, China Heritage, 17 August 2018
- Jianying Zha 查建英, ‘China’s Heart of Darkness—Prince Han Fei & Chairman Xi Jinping’, a study in five parts, China Heritage, 14-22 July 2020
- Geremie R. Barmé, ‘Red Allure & The Crimson Blindfold’, China Heritage, 13 July 2021
- Geremie R. Barmé, ‘Prelude to a Restoration: Xi Jinping, Deng Xiaoping, Chen Yun & the Spectre of Mao Zedong’, China Heritage, 20 September 2021
Recalling Ye Jianying
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.
China’s “Rise” and the Environment’s Decline
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, 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 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.
- 80% 江河湖泊斷流枯竭；
- 1/3 國土被酸雨污染，2/3 草原荒漠化，絕大部分森林消失；
- 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）