China Needs Real, Not Fake, Political Reform

By Tang Baiqiao
The 18th People’s Congress, that will determine the future of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), is about to start. The hand-over of power is under close scrutiny by the whole world. How will the next CCP leaders handle the multitude of social conflicts and travesties facing China right now?

Recently, mainland and overseas media have been talking much about reform, saying that after the 18th Congress, the CCP may promote political reform. Even longtime CCP critics don’t abstain from praising the political reform that is “about to come.” All of a sudden, praising sounds of political reform are loud and clear, as if the CCP had already started political reform.
Political reform is not a new topic in China, it has been speculated on and hyped up countless times from Deng Xiaoping to Jiang Zemin to Hu Jintao, from Zhao Ziyang to Zhu Rongji to Wen Jiabao. 
Every time, the call for political reform ignites hope, but at the end this hope is always mercilessly crushed. 
After June 4, the CCP has loudly called for political reform every year, but has never truly reformed even once. 
During his past year alone, Wen Jiabao talked about political reform more than 50 times at various public occasions but never acted on it. In just one month, Wen will step down from office. This is truly a joke. 
But even so, some democracy activists start dancing with joy upon hearing the words political reform, as if they are bewitched, without any concern as to whether it is true or not. 
Today, I will remove the mask of this “political reform” to help these people give up their false hope of political reform under the CCP’s rule.
As for political reform, the CCP defines it clearly: It means to improve things within the current political structure, change the unreasonable parts in the current structure, and make it more sensible. The key is “within the current political structure,” in other words, under the current one-party dictatorship.
If we take a look at the content of political reform formulated by the CCP, then we’ll understand better. The first aim of reform is to improve socialism. The second is to strengthen the party’s leadership and ability to govern. And the last one speaks the naked truth of political reform, “to maintain social stability.” In plain language it means, political stability gained by suppressing the people.
Of course, if the next generation CCP leaders has no choice but to promise to return political power to the people as quickly as possible, we should express our welcome to them. Otherwise we should continue to do what we should do and walk the path that we should walk: expose their crimes, let people see their evil nature clearly, promote democratic reform, get them off the historical stage, and throw them into the garbage can. 
Though this road is full of suffering and obstacles, we have already walked the greater half. People before us already sacrificed a lot, including their lives.
As for the next generation of CCP leaders, returning political power to the people is also their only way left. 
The question remains whether they will proactively return the political power to the people, or continue the dictatorship until they are overthrown by the people. Being able to convince them to freely return political power to the people will save us and China some effort. For the CCP, life, death, honor, and disgrace are at stake. If they can think it through and reach an understanding on this point, then they will know what to do. 
Pressure to reform will come from various communities, while resistance to reform will arise from those with vested interests within the system. This will be shockingly similar to the new political system promoted at the end of the Qing Dynasty. 
But if the CCP leaders can return the political power to the people in one step, the international community will welcome it, and those with vested interests in the system will not be able to create havoc anymore. In other words, returning political power to the people is actually easier than so-called political reform. 
For the CCP leaders themselves, this is also far more beneficial than harmful, because society can avoid paying the price of going through revolutionary change. 
But if they stubbornly hold on to the one-party dictatorship, no matter how much stitching up and patching they do, how flowery they talk about political reform, it will not do anything. They will not be able to respond to the various social conflicts and dangers that are mounting in China, they will also not be able to adapt to the developments in the free world. Hence, they will be doomed like the Manchu Dynasty, and condemned by history. 
Taking the initiative to give up dictatorship and returning political power to the people not only gives the nation a chance, but also gives the CCP leaders a chance. 
To the next generation of CCP leaders: you should seriously think about this problem. Where to go next depends on you. Think about it carefully, make a wise choice, and don’t live to regret the failure to seize the opportunity.

NOTE-- Tang Baiqiao, was a leader of the 1989 student movement and jailed after June 4. In 1992 he left China for the U.S. and served as a contact for the dissidents of 1989, general secretary of Glad Committee for June 4, and President of China Peace and Democracy Federation. Now residing in New York, Tang is the principal of the University of Democracy and is also a special commentator for Radio Free Asia and New Tang Dynasty Television. He has written two books: “My Two Chinas” and “Anthems of Defeat,” and published hundreds of political commentaries.

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  1. I hope the coming CCP leader Xi Jinping will meaningfully reform the country and return the political power to it's people...

    1. Yes, this will be the only way to go in the near future or else their future leader will follow Bin Ladin and Saddam Husein. You know how much inf. media and the world has about all the corruptions and tortures that Chinese govt. have been slashing left and right. They can't destroy everthing with the modern tech.