China: The CCP’s Chronic Illness – OpEd
By Bao Tong
The fact that references to Mao Zedong Thought have not been removed from the Communist Party’s constitution is a clear reflection of the power struggles that are taking place internally right now, and while it is disappointing, it was also to be expected.
We cannot blame Xi Jinping for this. As general secretary [of the Party], he can only implement motions carried by the Party. Fortunately, the horror [on the left of the Party] of dropping Mao Zedong Thought is more a symptom of lack of confidence, than one of confidence [on their part].
Those who shout about holding on [to Mao] have already relinquished the essence of Mao Zedong, and they are not themselves engaged in continual revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat. Why would anyone take them seriously?
‘Scientific development’ theory
No doubt the inscribing into historical record of the principle of “scientific development” was an act of respect towards those who have just retired [former president Hu Jintao].
Mao Zedong Thought was an ideology that resulted in the struggling to death of tens of millions of people and the starvation deaths of tens of millions more, but it still makes it into the Party constitution.
The “Three Represents” [of former president Jiang Zemin], while it cast off the Party’s links to the workers and to Marxism-Leninism, was in reality nothing more than an excuse for it to monopolize power, wealth, and ideology. And yet it still makes it into the Party constitution.
So what reason could there be not to include “scientific development”?
Actually, it’s hard to see its effectiveness in dealing with past or present problems, given that it has led to an unstoppable tide of pollution, the blind pursuit of economic growth figures and the lack of courage to carry out a scientific evaluation of the Three Gorges dam project. As for whether it will be effective in the future, we will have to wait and see.
It was certainly an important step forward for China’s Communist Party, on its way to becoming a modern political party, to enshrine the concept of “ecological civilization” into its constitution.
This has a positive meaning for the preservation of the environment in which we live.
[Ousted late premier] Zhao Ziyang said that when he visited West Germany as a regular official more than 20 years ago, he saw for himself the vitality and energy at work in the Green Party there. While China has been a latecomer [to the ecological movement], it is never to late to start catching up.
From now on, each and every Party member who damages the environment will be penalized by Party organizations, and any citizens who demand the clean-up of their environment will receive their support. Otherwise, these Party organizations will be violating their own constitution, won’t they?
These amendments to the Party’s constitution took place without deleting the clause “the Party will act within the limits of the constitution and of the law.”
This is more important than all of the amendments put together. This is a decisive and realistic resolution that forms the realistic basis for the Communist Party’s legitimacy.
It can be regarded as the legitimacy clause, and it was inscribed into the Party constitution by [ousted late premier] Hu Yaobang, while [Hu’s successor] Zhao Ziyang took it upon himself to implement it.
Now, the situation is different, and we are facing different problems, and we need to do things differently.
If we can only keep true to this particular clause, then we can rid ourselves of the chronic sickness and lawlessness of Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, and Bo Xilai and carry forward the rule of law in the spirit of Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang.
Translated by Luisetta Mudie.
Bao Tong, political dissident and former aide to the late ousted Chinese premier Zhao Ziyang, is currently under house arrest at his home in Beijing.