BEIJING — In March, nine political science students at Cal Poly in Pomona wrote to China's Communist Party chief, Jiang Zemin, posing an array of questions about the society and politics of China. On June 11, Jiang replied. It should not, of course, be surprising to find both the studied absence of truth and the bald display of reality in Jiang's letter.
The truths Jiang denies are manifold: the machine-gunning of unarmed protesters on the streets of Beijing; the collapse of the party's legitimacy in much of the country; the failure of socialist planning as a tool for economic development; the extraordinary growth of the country's fledgling, and now suspect, private sector. His insistence that the "incident" of June 4 "is now behind us" borders on the grotesque; so seared in the minds of Chinese is last year's slaughter that it is now talked of as a seminal event in China's 20th-Century history.
Then there are the realities. Jiang makes it quite clear that he foresees only a China led by the Communist Party down a road of socialism. In his world, there is only "socialist democracy" (read: no democracy), socialist development (read: continued poverty and corruption) and "letting a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend" (read: no freedom of thought, no freedom of expression, no freedom of speech).
Following is an excerpt of Jiang's letter. \f7 --Edward A. Gargan Council on Foreign Relations
Last year's disturbances in Beijing were by no means spontaneous. There were indeed a handful of people, both inside and outside China, who attempted to overthrow the constitutional people's government and the socialist system in China through unlawful means and by exploiting the student unrest and the errors and problems in our work . . . . Protecting the socialist system was the fundamental reason why we resolutely quelled the disturbances and rebellion . . The incident is now behind us, and we believe that its impact will recede before long. To realize the modernization of China, it is essential for the Chinese people to work hard. China's social system guarantees the workers, peasants and intellectuals the full right to determine their own destiny by participating in the administration of state and social affairs as citizens of the country and society. They enjoy the right to democracy and freedom as provided for by the constitution and law, enjoy the fundamental human rights as protected by the constitution and laws, and have the opportunity and channels to express their views fully, including differing opinions. To enliven and enrich science and culture, we have all along implemented the policy of "letting a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend." We have encouraged constructive discussions and contention among different schools of thought and artistic views. Of course, we do not tolerate activities carried out by a tiny number of people to subvert China's socialist system, or give them "freedom" to break the law.
Quite a few foreigners fail to understand our struggle against "bourgeois liberalization." It should be explained that the term "bourgeois liberalization" has a specific political meaning to us, that is, the erroneous trends of thought and political tendencies to negate in China the socialist system and the leadership by the Chinese Communist Party . . China's political restructuring is focused on improving socialist democracy and the socialist legal system, to ensure effectively that the people enjoy status and rights as citizens of the country. The past decade saw marked progress in this connection: improvement in the system of the people's congresses; formulation of a series of important laws and regulations and intensified supervision over the implementation of the constitution and laws. There has been improvement in the democratic election process, including direct elections held for people's deputies at the township, town and county levels and competitive elections for people's deputies at all levels and for some government leaders. Various channels have been opened for all forms of participation in political affairs and decision-making on the basis of improved multiparty cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.
In order to prevent social shocks, the development of the economy, building up of democracy and the legal system, as well as economic and political structural reforms, should all proceed in the light of China's realities and in a guided, systematic and orderly way. In China, stability is of paramount importance. Without it, our modernization drive, reform and opening-up efforts would be empty talk.