Skip to main content

No Hope For Democratisation in China Under Xi Jinping, Says Tiananmen Veteran Wang Dan

Xi Jinping: Consolidation of power (photo by By 美国之音)

 In an article published on Taiwan's website Apple Daily, Wang Dan casts away all hopes that the People's Republic of China might eventually move towards democracy. On the contrary. Under the leadership of Xi Jinping, he writes, the Communist Party is undergoing a process of "Fascistisation" (中共的法西斯化). 

Wang Dan is a prominent Chinese political thinker and activist, but one whose fate has been tragically shaped by Communist media censorship. His name has been erased from mainland China's collective memory and history, just like the political upheaval of which he was a leader in 1989. During that decade, in which China's authorities cautiously allowed an unprecedented degree of freedom, Wang Dan was one of the organisers of the "Democratic Salon", a study group and discussion platform on the campus of Beijing University. Wang Dan was a twenty-year-old student who, like many others of his generation, tried to change the face of the Communist state by political action from the bottom. On June 4th 1989, his dreams abruptly ended when the People's Liberation Army put down what the state leadership had called a "counterrevolution". 

Wang Dan was arrested on July 2, 1989, and remained in custody until his trial began in 1991. He was sentenced to four years in prison on charges of "counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement". He was taken to Qincheng, a maximum-security prison in Beijing's outskirts. Although he was released in 1993, he was arrested again two years later and in 1996 he was sentenced to eleven years in prison on charges of "subverting state power", the exact same crime of which Wang Dan's friend Liu Xiaobo was later accused (see Tiananmen Exiles: Voices of the Struggle for Democracy in China, pp. 114-115). 

According to Wang Dan, there were too many people who believed China was on the right track. They thought that the days of the personality cult (個人崇拜). We might add: even keen China observers such as Richard McGregor made the mistake of believing that one-man politics were no longer possible in China, and that the Communist state was governed by a collective leadership. 

However, Xi Jinping has proved the optimists wrong. The last act of Xi's new personality cult was played on February 19, when he visited mainland China's biggest state-owned news outlets and ordered them to strictly follow the Party's leadership and focus on "positive reporting". 

Two things are strange about Xi's visit, writes Wang Dan. 

First, China Central Television [CCTV] welcomed Xi Jinping with a large banner on which were written the words: 'CCTV is a child of the Party and pledges absolute loyalty [央視姓黨,絕對忠誠]'. Second, the People's Daily published on its front page an editorial in large red letters summarising Xi Jinping's speech. These two events are so disgusting they make one want to throw up. They reveal that the personality cult is gaining ground in China, and one feels that time is moving backwards. 

In his article Wang Dan remembers a conference he attended in Taiwan in 2008. There he spoke about the possibility of the Fascistisation of the Communist Party. However, Taiwan's intellectuals didn't take him seriously. "Their faces were expressionless", he writes, "but I felt they disagreed. They might think that I hate the Communist Party because they persecuted me, so my judgement could not be rational, objective and impartial".

He also recalls the diffident reactions of students who attended his lectures in Taiwan

[W]henever I said that the possibility of a new Cultural Revolution in China exists, almost all Taiwanese students kept a respectful attitute, but I could feel they disagreed. Not to mention those exchange students from mainland China born in the 1990s. They basically thought I just wanted to 'smear' the Chinese government.   

There can be no doubt that since Xi Jinping assumed the leadership in 2012, the Communist Party has been pursuing a more aggressive, nationalistic and authoritarian policy. No one should make the mistake of misunderstanding the real nature of the Communist government. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Window Trick of Las Vegas Hotels

When I lived in Hong Kong I often passed by a residential apartment complex commonly known as the " monster building ".  " Interior of the Yick Cheong Building November 2016 " by  Nick-D  is licensed under  CC BY-SA 4.0 . _____

Living in Taiwan: Seven Reasons Why It's Good to Be Here

Chinese New Year can be a pretty boring time for a foreigner. All of my friends were celebrating with their families, and since I have no family here, nor have I a girlfriend whose family I could join, I had nothing special to do. Shops and cafes were closed - apart from big chains like McDonald's or Starbucks, which were overcrowded anyway. So I had a lot of time to think. On Saturday evening I went out to buy my dinner. While I was walking around, I heard the voices of the people inside their homes, the sounds of their New Year celebrations. Then I suddenly asked myself: "What on earth are you doing here? Why are you still in Taiwan?"  Before I came to Taiwan, some Taiwanese friends of mine had recommended me their country, highly prasing it and going so far as to say that Taiwan is a "paradise for foreigners" (bear in mind that when I say foreigners I mean 'Westerners').  "It's easy for foreigners to find a job," t

Is China's MINISO Copying Japan's MUJI, UNIQLO and Daiso?

Over the past few years Japanese retailers such as UNIQLO and MUJI have conquered foreign markets, opening shops in cities such as Paris, Berlin or New York and becoming household names in several countries. But the success of their business model seems to have inspired people with dubious intentions. As the website Daliulian recently showed, a new chain called MINISO, which claims to be a Japanese company selling ‘100% Japanese products’, seems to be nothing more than a knock-off of UNIQLO, MUJI and Daiso, copying their logos, names and even the layout of their stores. The company’s webpage proudly announces – in terrible English – that “ MINISO is a fast fashion designer brand of Japan. Headquartered in Tokyo Japan, Japanese young designer Miyake Jyunya is founder as well as the chief designer of MINISO, a pioneer in global 'Fashion & Casual Superior Products' field. ” According to the company’s homepage, MINISO advocates the philosophy of a simple,

Macau: Gambling, Corruption, Prostitution, and Fake Worlds

As I mentioned in my previous post , Macau has different faces and identities: there is the old Macau, full of colonial buildings and in which the pace of life seems to resemble a relaxed Mediterranean town rather than a bustling, hectic Chinese city, such as Hong Kong or Shanghai. On the other hand, there is the Macau of gambling, of gigantic hotel and casino resorts, and of prostitution. These two Macaus seem to be spatially separated from each other, with an intact colonial city centre and nice outskirts with small alleys on the one side, and bombastic, modern buildings on the other.  The Galaxy - one of the huge casino and hotel resorts The Importance of Gambling for Macau's Economy Dubbed the 'Monte Carlo of the East', Macau has often been portrayed as the gambling capital of China. Media reporting on Macau tend present pictures of the city's glistening, apparently luxurious skyline. But a visit in Macau suffices to realize that it is fa

Trip to Tainan

Tainan Train Station Last weekend I made a one day trip to the Southern Taiwanese city of Tainan (Chinese: 臺南, pinyin: Táinán), the former capital and one of the most important centres of culture, history and architecture of the island. This blog post is also intended as a special thank to Grace, a Taiwanese friend who was so kind to show me around, and very patient, too. Since Tainan doesn't have an extensive public transport net, Grace picked me up at the train station with her motorcycle, a vehicle that, along with cars, is regarded by locals as indispensable for living comfortably in Tainan. To my great embarrassment, though, I had to admit that I cannot ride a motorcycle. That's why we had to take busses to move around. It was the first time she ever took a bus in Tainan. And now I know why: busses come more or less every half an hour, and service stops early in the evening. No wonder Tainanese snob public transport. Grace had no idea about the routes and about whe