Increasing domestic criticism of Beijing's pro-capitalist course

The dominant wing of the Chinese Communist Party has pushed through capitalist counter-reforms in the Chinese economy over the past couple of decades, achieving immense economic growth but also devastating effects on the conditions of the workers. Here we publish an interesting letter by an anonymous group of “veteran CCP members, veteran cadres, veteran military personnel and intellectuals” who are opposed to this course.

Editor’s Note

Along with the growing class struggle in China, criticisms on the pro-capitalist course of the CCP leadership have increased, especially since 2004. A good example is the letter, which we publish here, by an anonymous group of “veteran CCP members, veteran cadres, veteran military personnel and intellectuals”.

The letter shows that inside the ranks of the CCP there are people who are fed up with the looting of ordinary people. They explain how this also undermines the party and propose an alternative programme. Contrary to CCP leaders who call for measures against increasing poverty only because they fear the social unrest this is causing, this group offers a programme based on the masses and the introduction of what they call “socialist democracy”.

We do not know much about this group. For example, we do not know why they addressed their letter to General Secretary Hu Jintao. Is it because they still have illusions in him? Or is it out of security reasons, to circumvent repression and gain a wider audience? The fact is that coming out with such ideas today is quite dangerous in China, and they had the courage to do that.

The text, which was originally written in Chinese, was translated into English by Eva Cheng for Links, the theoretical magazine of the Australian DSP (http://www.dsp.org.au/links/back/issue27/index.htm). The endnotes are hers. We also publish her introduction to the letter, since it gives a good picture of the political situation at the time the letter appeared. 


Eva Cheng’s introduction

Over the past decade, as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been escalating its procapitalist agenda, a procapitalist current among China's economists—known as the neoliberals—has consolidated its domination of China's media and publications, giving these economists a strategic position from which to shape public opinion. An opposing, anticapitalist current—often called the "new left"—and its occasional sympathisers in the centrist camp have been struggling to have their voices heard. Via the internet they have broken down some barriers, but not completely. An intermittent tussle between these opposing views has been going on.

Then in August 2004 a study by the Taiwan-born Hong Kong based scholar Lang Hsienping was released. Based on public data that firms listed on the Hong Kong stock market have to reveal, Lang concluded that a few of China's partially privatised listed state enterprises have been appropriating state assets illegitimately. The enterprises concerned were furious. One even launched a legal action against Lang, which has unintentionally weakened the censorship that the mainland Chinese media are subjected to on politically sensitive matters; they have greater rights to report on legal cases. The neoliberal economists, led by renowned apologists such as Zhang Weiying from Beijing University, backed these firms with a vicious polemical attack on Lang. The new left and others came to Lang's defence, sparking a hot debate, which the China News Service listed as one of the top ten economic events in China in 2004.

At issue is not just the few accused enterprises but the widespread problem of massive and systematic plundering of state property by enterprise managements, nearly invariably backed by local officials or others in positions of power, while state firms are being partially or fully privatised. This process has all the hallmarks of being a key source for the primitive capital accumulation of China's fledgling capitalist class. Thousands of protests in recent years, mainly by redundant state enterprise workers or desperate retired workers, have provided a glimpse of the devastating human consequences of this process. Contrary to its continuing but increasingly empty proclamations, the CCP regime is doing little to defend the interests of the working class, but is keenly guarding those of the capitalists, many of whom have come from its own ranks. Protesters know very well that they are not the only victims although they may not be aware of the class struggle of which they have become a part. The new left and other educated layers who still have a socialist conscience have stepped in to help explain the anti-socialist nature of these measures and to argue for an urgent reversal.

In October 2004 a group of veteran CCP members, cadres, military personnel and intellectuals jumped in to make their voices heard with the important document that we are publishing in the following pages. (As far as we know, this is the first time it has appeared in English.)

Apparently in response to the debate, in January 2005 the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission flagged that the "big" state enterprises, defined as those with assets exceeding 400 million yuan ($1=8.2 yuan), management would be banned from engaging in buyouts of their own firms. Such management buyouts are a common tactic, facilitated by accounting tricks or outright fraud, through which China's enterprise managers have been plundering public assets. Presumably the 150,000 enterprises that have less than 400 million yuan in assets have the green light for full privatisation.

In spite of tens of thousands of protests by workers and peasants, and simmering critiques from leftist intellectuals (which mostly go unpublished or don't get wide circulation), CCP cadres and military personnel haven't been vocal in recent years in criticising the procapitalist process. The exact identity of the authors of this document is hard to ascertain. But their action and the comprehensive nature of their sharp and uncompromising critique are an indication that a distinctly pro-socialist current is still alive within the CCP. This could provide an added support to the mass rejection of the restoration of capitalism that is taking place in China.


Our views and opinions of the current political landscape

A letter to General Secretary Hu [Jintao] from a group of veteran CCP members, veteran cadres, veteran military personnel and intellectuals (October 2004)

A great opportunity to adjust the line

Even though there have been gains economically in the past twenty-six years of reforms and opening up,1 the price for these moves has been enormous, and they also brought considerable problems. Many deep-seated contradictions emerged in society, and the party's authority plunged. To seriously resolve these contradictions and restore the people's trust in the party, the party's line of march needs to be adjusted profoundly. Previously, due to various obstacles and interferences, you, respected leader, were handicapped in bringing about the needed adjustments; it was hard to make your impact felt. But now, after the fourth plenum of the sixteenth CCP Central Committee [September 1719, 2004], such interferences are largely removed, so it's a time when you can shake things up.

Not a question of `ruling capability' but a question of the line

The fourth plenum of the sixteenth CC flagged the need to strengthen the party's ruling capability. This, to a certain extent, reflects the party's sense of crisis. As various complex and sharp contradictions unfold, and social polarisation gets worse, the people, especially the workers and peasants, i.e., the social base of the party, have their interests seriously undermined. State enterprise workers have been downgraded from being the masters of those enterprises to mere employees. Peasants, under the dual burden of indiscriminate taxes and fees as well as market competition, are heading towards ruin. The peasants turned city workers don't even have assurances of their basic rights. The bureaucrats' and capitalists' savage violation of the interests of the masses is a frequent occurrence. The masses often can't afford to see the doctor, to access education or to get a job, nor are they hopeful these problems will be resolved. To the people, the party's credibility has taken a deep dive, and the party's ruling position is in grave danger.

If there are problems, we have to reflect on them, but where are the problems? What's wrong with the party's line? Why are the consequences so serious? What is the nature of the problems? And how can these problems be corrected to turn things around? These are issues that a party that is responsive to its people should confront. Only by confronting these problems head on and boldly admitting any mistakes can a proletarian party demonstrate its strength. Only by openly admitting to the people its mistakes and taking serious corrective steps can the party regain the people's trust and strengthen its ruling capability in a fundamental way. Conversely, if one approaches the question of ruling capability in an abstract manner, or focuses on side issues rather than the basic line of march, then few substantive results can be expected.

The problems of society aren't isolated, atomised or accidental, but are interlinked and involve multiple dimensions. Behind these overwhelmingly complicated appearances is the fact that the fundamental direction of our reform has gone wrong. At issue is the question of the line of march, not the so-called "problem of ruling capability". The approach of "treating the head for headaches and treating the feet for sore feet" [i.e., short of a holistic approach] has been proven by history to be a dead end, allowing the problem to get increasingly out of hand. The essence lies in the line of march, while a weakening of the party's ruling capability is merely the appearance. Therefore, only by seeing through the appearance to focus on the essence, and reflecting deeply on the question of the party's line and fundamentally reorienting its direction, can we solve the problem at its roots. Only in this manner can we really "strengthen its ruling capability", achieve social stability and maintain the healthy and smooth development of society.

What's wrong with the line? The problem lies in the party's implementation of a revisionist line and its course to restore capitalism. In the name of socialism, its representatives actually practise capitalism. They claim they have Marxist lamb on offer at the front of the shop but are actually marketing revisionist dog meat under the table. To put it more transparently, their backsides are sitting on the wrong side; they are siding with the capitalists, bureaucratic compradors and corrupt elements, and fundamentally betraying the interests of the toiling masses of workers and peasants. As a result, the capitalist class and their spokespeople are getting more arrogant by the day while the position of the proletariat and the toiling people deteriorates correspondingly. This has plunged countless brothers and sisters into deep water and burning fire. They have eaten bitterness twice. If the party doesn't pull back in time and rapidly fix the problem, the death of both the party and the nation won't be far away!

Some policies introduced lately seem to be aiming for such an adjustment. We welcome them. But they seem to be still miles away from the substantive and powerful remedies that are required. Understandably, having had the wrong line for a considerable period, reversing course won't be easy, and fundamental readjustment can't be achieved overnight. It requires utter persistence and heroic efforts like "the stupid old man who moved a mountain"2 to overcome the numerous obstacles. A fierce struggle is expected in order to solve the line problem, which is hard to achieve without firm determination and boldness. But this is the only path to really find a solution. Avoiding confronting this hard choice now is likely to let the issue get out of hand, at which time regrets won't help.

Our opinion on what sort of adjustment is needed on certain issues

Bearing in mind what's practically possible now, the following issues desperately and urgently require resolution.

(1) The launching of a mass movement against corruption

Corruption poses the gravest risks at the moment to both the party and the government. It undermines the party's credibility. Short of solving this problem, any measure to strengthen the party's ruling capability would be in vain. Corruption involves more than an exchange of power and money; it can bring about a fundamental change in the party and change the nature of state power. It's now obvious that in the course of the state enterprises' reform, corrupt officials and enterprise management colluded with the capitalists in looting state property, having little regard for the life and death of the working masses, and rapidly undermined the economic foundation of the system of state ownership. It's also obvious that in the rural areas, corrupt bureaucrats barbarically looted and appropriated from the peasants, sparking various mass incidents in which the peasants confronted local officials. It's also obvious that in other sectors of society, corrupt officials schemed with and protected the capitalist class, brutally violated the interests of the masses, provoking intense dissatisfaction and counteractions from them. Examples include: delays in wage payments for the country people turned city workers, inadequate compensation for displaced households and the illegal appropriation of farmland. Not to mention the rampant and widespread looting of state coffers at all levels of government, which can involve a tinkering with relief funds for disaster victims or with education funds. Everywhere, these corrupt bureaucratic gangs are on the same wavelength with the capitalists in betraying and oppressing the broad masses, severely damaging the profile and authority of the party and the government. It also incessantly chips away at the economic and political foundations of the dictatorship of people's democracy, becoming a cancer on the people's democratic dictatorship and socialist society.

For many years, the government has made enormous efforts in trying to uproot corruption, with the hard work by the disciplinary and prosecution departments especially worth noting. But corruption escalated instead. Jaw-dropping major corruption scandals kept popping up, involving officials of seniority previously unheard of. In the face of such phenomena, our fellow citizens can only shake their heads in despair and feel utterly helpless. As an old saying goes, no sadness is greater than hopelessness. What's most worrying is that one day the people might lose hope in the Communist Party. We've now come to a point where the problem can't avoid being fundamentally dealt with. Only with the greatest determination and a boldness to mobilise the masses can we turn back the tide and prevent the building from collapsing.

The party's decades of history have proven that the mass line is the fundamental way to counter corruption. At this conjuncture, when neither the party nor the government's inner chambers can afford to retreat from the issue, there's no other way but to mobilise the masses. To mobilise the masses, you have to trust them. The idea that once the masses are mobilised then disturbances will come is a wrong one. Only by thoroughly mobilising the masses, turning them into an all-embracing net, can the anti-corruption efforts of the masses and those of the dictatorship's institutions join forces. It's only in this way that anti-corruption efforts and a correct line of march can converge, getting rid of the disease itself as well as its symptoms, rooting out corruption at its foundations, restoring the party's profile and authority in the eyes of the people. Only in this way will the party be able to free itself from the Chinese historical cycle of dynasties thriving, declining and collapsing.

(2) Rely on the working masses to block immediately the evil gale of privatisation

Since the reform of state enterprise ownership began, the evil gale of privatisation has blown furiously. All sorts of pro-privatisation arguments emerged to open and guide its path. There are the so-called theories to "seize the big and let go the small ones", to "let the state retreat to make way for the people to advance", to "sell everything and give away everything", to "let the pretty girls marry first", "deliver the ice-cream stick quickly".3 There is also the "spitting" theory and a host of other ridiculous and shameless attempts to defend privatisation that have gained prominence.4 At other times these apologists laid low in terms of profile and noise level, but didn't slow their actual privatisation. The latter strategy still brings lucrative results. Whichever way was adopted led to the same results—that is, the wealth accumulated over the decades by the nation's labouring masses, who started off with nothing and built them up painstakingly with their blood and sweat, is now plundered via the collusion of the officials and capitalists, channelled into their private coffers. State enterprises have fattened a whole swag of private enterprises. Through sucking the blood of state enterprises, numerous private enterprises become super-rich overnight, while these same state enterprises, from losing so much blood, are getting thinner by the day. Under the grandiose cover of "state enterprise ownership reform", a feast to loot and divide up the people's wealth is taking place. The result: a whole layer of corrupt officials, opportunists and heads of enterprises are being fattened, a whole bunch of billionaires is created, state enterprises are dealt a blow and seriously weakened. In addition, the repeated proclamations of the dominance of public ownership have long failed to match the reality, the whole country and the people are in ruin, and the workers and peasants have once again slid into being slaves of capital.

The state sector needs to lead and control the national economy in a real sense. Not only does it need to upgrade qualitatively, but it should also be able to achieve critical mass quantitatively. Otherwise, it is all empty words. Not only is the state sector a key means through which the government steers and guides the market sector, but it also provides the material basis to regulate distribution and ensure social stability. To let the bureaucrats, enterprise management and capitalists collude in looting state property, in the end, will only undermine the foundation of the CCP.

That's why we hereby appeal for: An immediate halt to the evil gale of privatisation! An immediate halt to privatisation in reality that is dressed up as ownership reform! To the call for justice by Professor Lang Hsienping and the big debate it evoked in defending China's state enterprises, we extend our enthusiastic support!5 We also extend our keen support to the emergency call by the renowned economist Comrade Ma Bin in opposing the sale of Baosteel!6 We also warmly support Comrade Ma Bin's call to oppose the extension of state enterprise MBO [management buyouts]. Whether the buyer is the management of the enterprises concerned, private enterprises or foreign companies, such sales should still be strictly banned!

In fact, only by thoroughly relying on and mobilising state enterprise workers can an effective supervision of such enterprises and the related governmental leaders be possible. Only then can the collusion between officials and the capitalists, and their privatisation based on looting state property, be stopped and forestalled. This is because each of the workers' breaths, and only theirs, is linked intimately to socialism, and only their fate is linked to that of the state enterprises. Only by relying on them can one guarantee that state enterprises steer in the right direction.

Not only does the boycotting of privatisation and defence of state property need to rely on the working class, but the elevation of enterprise efficiency and a strengthening of the state sector also bank on them. It's not hard to imagine what the fate of a state enterprise will be if it's in the hands of a management that's angling for an MBO. We mustn't forget that since the CCP was built from scratch, based on almost nothing in material terms, it has been relying on the working class to build the comprehensive state sector as we find it today. Today, we can once again rely on the working class to properly manage these state enterprises. But for a long time, we trusted only a minority rather than the masses, and in order to mobilise the enthusiasm of individual leaders, we've resorted to material incentives. This has widened the gap between the senior and junior ranks to a ridiculous extent, leading to an uninhibited gnawing away of many state enterprises, the workers' position as enterprise master being appropriated and their interests severely undermined. They were so marginalised that it's little different from the old society. What other roles can they possibly play!

Therefore, whether it's a bid to prevent a further haemorrhaging of state property or to strengthen the state sector, or whether it's to elevate the party's ruling capability or to rebuild the party's proletarian base, it needs to rely on the masses of workers. We must let them exercise their rights to manage the enterprises. This is the way to restore the workers' position as the master, pulling them from the "margin" back to the "centre", allowing them to become in substance, rather than in name, the country's leading class.

(3) Swiftly adjust the relations of distribution

The relations of distribution are a key component of the relations of production. With the rising prominence of the capital vs labour relation, the relations of distribution are increasingly polarised. The primitive accumulation of capital in China is a special one, based on the gnawing away of state property. Social polarisation is getting worse, with China's Gini [poverty measuring] ratio breaching the internationally recognised warning level. According to the 2004 World Wealth Report produced by investment bank Merrill Lynch, there are 240,000 individuals in China who own 10 million yuan or more [US$1 = 8.2 yuan]. This group holds between them nearly $1000 billion, or roughly two-thirds of China's GDP in 2003.

Serious social polarisation prompted the emergence of many complex and sharp contradictions and conflicts, which seriously threaten social stability. This undoubtedly needs to be dealt with via the state exercising its distributive function the second time round, such that the interests of different sectors can be addressed. It's essential to bear the following points in mind. First, the need to implement progressive taxation and inheritance tax and to inhibit the concentration of wealth in the hands of a minority. Second, immediately stop the wrong measures that have led to the growing income disparity between the management and the workers in state enterprises, as well as between state employees and average citizens. Halt the trend of increasing stratification, as classes and as social layers, within state enterprises and among government employees and average citizens. Prevent a human-made worsening of declining loyalty and morality among both employees and leaders. Prevent turning government institutions into a target for narrow job seekers. Third, step up education for the common masses; increase the health subsidy; raise the living allowances for low income layers; strengthen financial support for the social security system; and implement in spirit the policy goal of caring for and responding to the hardship of the masses. Socialist Cuba is now able to practise free education, from kindergarten to doctorate degree level, as well as free health care. Our economic base is so much stronger than Cuba's, so why can't we deliver the same?

Reduced income disparity not only can, to a certain extent, improve the living conditions of the masses in a preliminary sense, help ease social contradictions and really bring social stability, but it also helps to boost domestic demand, enhancing purchasing power en masse. It thereby helps to bring about sustained economic development, boost productivity and reduce the importance of exports as a source of economic growth. To a certain extent, it can help address the "crisis of excesses" in production and capacity in a market economy, bring about a virtuous economic cycle and enable the scientific development approach of sustained adjustment to be carried out in a real sense.

(4) Promote the Nanjie village model7 and return to the path of common prosperity via collectivisation

In the early days of the family production responsibility system,8 the practice boosted the peasant families' initiatives to labour. Added to favourable conditions inherited from the collectivisation period, agricultural production increased markedly. However, new pitfalls emerged before long, leading to the emergence of what we now recognise as the "sannong" problem.9 We can hardly afford not to reflect deeply on why this came about. Today, the familybased cultivation of small plots has become a bottleneck for the mechanisation and modernisation of agricultural production. Due to its small scale, family production is vulnerable to market volatility, permanently on the brink of bankruptcy. The township and village-based collective enterprises that once existed have long degenerated into being the fiefs of individual party leaders or in their private pockets. With only bare remnants of the collective economy left, social polarisation in the rural areas has been on the rise. After years of stagnation, food production has been declining in recent years. In addition, there's the serious problem of corruption and ruthless taxation by local bureaucrats, which contributes to the severity of rural discontent. As a result, it has become difficult for agriculture to provide a solid foundation for the national economy and the urbanrural contradiction is increasingly pronounced, resulting in more and more peasants hovering on the brink of bankruptcy.

To solve the sannong problem, both the root causes and the symptoms must be addressed. The multipronged approach in the old days to encourage peasants to engage in food production and to increase their income has its merits. But the fundamental solution to the sannong problem lies in the return to collectivisation, which is the real path to common prosperity.

A return to collectivisation is not a fantasy. There are many real examples throughout China to illustrate the case where thoroughgoing collectivised economic production, such as that in Nanjie village, is taking place. Not only have these localities achieved modernisation in agricultural production, but also a strong industrial base is thereby being laid in the meantime. The service sector benefits in some cases. Not only is the economy in these locations thriving, but there are exemplary social benefits in many different senses, in terms of social welfare, law and order and social tendencies. It can be contended that these localities have managed to achieve common prosperity in the absence of social polarisation, a real shining path of socialism. Unfortunately, these fine examples have not received strong official backing and promotion. Quite the contrary: both the media and public opinion largely ignore such achievements, a situation that must be changed. There is an urgent need to publicise and multiply these fine examples of collective production. We, therefore, propose that a seminar be held immediately in the capital, Beijing, for the representatives of such progressive models so that they can exchange experiences, make in-depth assessments, draw out the basic common lessons and replicate them elsewhere. The actual circumstances of the localities concerned must be considered in such applications while the practical methods and approach of Nanjie are investigated and learned. Such an approach will have great practical significance in helping steer China back to the collective path and helping solve the sannong problem efficiently.

(5) Restore the leading position of Marxism

To restore the leading position of Marxism in the realm of ideology is a grave task on the battlefront of ideas. Various articles, magazines and books that openly whip up support for Western democracy and privatisation flood the streets, while those publicising Marxism are being put down deliberately. Zhenli de Zhuiqui and Zhong Liu were even rudely and unreasonably banned.10 In a China that still calls itself socialist, this is most puzzling. It also illustrates the extent to which Marxism, which has a nominally leading position in this country, has been trampled upon in practice! For this reason, it is impossible not to put on the agenda the grave task of restoring the leading position of Marxism in this country.

In the ideological arena, only by truthfully restoring the leading position of Marxism can we rearm the people with progressive ideas, so that an effective critique is possible of the various shades of bourgeois thought, revisionist ideas, remnant feudal thinking and colonial culture. Only in this way can the progressive socialist culture led by Marxism be constructed. We must also sort out the publicity departments and existing problems in the ideological arena. We must deal with those who are calling the shots in critical departments but not publicising Marxism, or even encouraging or passively endorsing rotten ideas. In their place we must appoint personnel who genuinely support and enthusiastically promote Marxism. We must wage a sharp and uncompromising critique and battle against opinions that violate the four basic principles,11 that support bourgeois liberalism and various rotten reactionary ideas, so that Marxism's leading position can be truly restored.

To restore Marxism's leading position is to uphold even more the great flags of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought, to promote the serious study of the classics of such ideas among the great masses of our cadres and youth, so that they adopt the world view and life perspectives of communism. The phenomenon whereby for years the writings of Karl Marx and V.I. Lenin weren't being studied must be corrected immediately.

The call to restore Marxism's leading position isn't a restoration of empty dogmas. Even less is it a move to castrate the revolutionary spirit in the name of development and trying new things. Nor is it to elevate Marxism to the supreme position of being a harmless idol. Such a call aims to find a solution to problems arising from an attempt to build socialism. It needs to become an integral part of the life, labour and struggle of the masses, acting as their weapon of ideas. It involves a struggle in the realm of ideas against rotten thoughts of all sorts. Only in this way can Marxism's leading position be truly restored.

(6) A big push to extend socialist democracy

Whether it is a struggle against corruption, an attempt to defend state property and counter privatisation, a bid to scale down the burden on the peasants and oppose bureaucratic exactions or a move to protect the legal rights of underprivileged sectors such as peasants and workers, all such endeavours urgently demand an extension of socialist democracy. The people are the master of history. Organised people have the profound ability to storm heaven and transform the earth. But even the people who are mainly workers and peasants can still be an underprivileged sector. Such disadvantages arise fundamentally from the lack of democracy. The people's nominal right of democracy doesn't exist in practice. The basic system in our country is socialism led by the proletariat, founded on an alliance between the workers and peasants, which practises the dictatorship of people's democracy. This is laid down in the constitution but is seriously violated in practice. With the present need to strengthen the party's ability to rule, a strengthening of the political basis of socialism is a top priority. This calls for a big push to extend democracy, a need to solve the problem of democracy.

First, the workers' status as the master must be restored within the state enterprises. The employees' representative council must hold the management rights. Such rights, as well as those of the trade union, must be protected and given concrete support. Help must be extended to set up and perfect the trade union system in private enterprises and foreign invested firms. This is to encourage and protect employees' legal rights. Second, in rural areas, peasants must receive permission and encouragement in any effort to organise peasants' associations to protect their own interests. Third, the moves of various social groups to air their views and take action to protect their rights must be defended. This is to ensure that the people's freedom, as laid down in the constitution, of assembly, association, free speech, free press, striking, marches and protests can be truly realised. This is the way to mobilise fully the people's initiatives and realise their democratic power, turning the people's democratic dictatorship into a reality.

In the course of greatly extending people's democracy, we must guard against and reject Western democracy. The people's democratic dictatorship means the people are in charge and their enemies subjected to dictatorship. This is fundamentally different from Western bourgeois democracy. A blind copying of Western democracy will surely reduce us to a vassal state of the West, possibly leading to the demise of both the party and the nation. Therefore, we must be on high alert for any Western nations' support for "democratisation", ready to expose their devious agenda.

Recently, 101 party members, who include Li Chengrui,12 have put forward to the party centre "Proposals regarding ways to strengthen the construction of socialist democracy". Their ideas are firmly grounded in the current reality and are proposals of profound significance for party building. We sincerely extend them our support and hope the party centre adopts these proposals.

(7) Cleanse the party while adjusting the line of march

The readjustment of the party's line needs to go hand in hand with a cleaning up of the party ranks. These are complementary efforts, without which the former attempts would be in vain. In the course of carrying out the many different aspects of line adjustment, the party should be overhauled. We should reassess members' eligibility for retaining membership and rid the party of alien class elements, corrupt and degenerated elements and opportunists of all sorts. Such a move to overhaul the party must be firmly grounded in a mass line, such that the criticism and assessments from the masses both inside and outside the party should be accepted. We have to restore the glorious tradition whereby the party had the boldness to scrutinise itself and clean up its own ranks. This is the way to make it a revolutionary party that truly upholds Marxism-Leninism, to restore its splendid profile in the eyes of the people and to rebuild the party's impeccable credibility among them. Hopefully, it can regain the people's heartfelt support, thereby boosting in a fundamental way the party's "ruling capability" and facilitating a smooth execution of the line adjustment in organisational terms.

(8) Immediately halt the criminal suppression of the people and severely punish the perpetrators

For years various problems piled up, obscuring the possible solutions while the contradictions between the government and the people were becoming increasingly severe. Even though the media and opinion makers endeavour to make believe that everything is fine, the tip of the iceberg still reveals itself every now and then. Even scholars like Ding Yuanzhu couldn't help pointing out "words of alarm despite it being an era of prosperity", however mildly they tried to put the message. Collusion between the officials and businesspeople is universal. Combining their insider intelligence and external resources, they work together to gut the state enterprises, after which they sell them for a song. Ruthless policies abound that couldn't care less about the life or death of the peasants. In recent years, peasants have been driven off their land, which is then resold at a lucrative price to benefit the private coffers of those in power. These practices swept everywhere like an evil gust. The capitalists' cruel exploitation and exaction of workers also happen everywhere. Throughout the country, local governments reacted to the masses' struggle for survival against corruption in the same way—armed cops were sent out en masse to conduct mass arrests, viciously persecuting in particular the leading activists, dishing out with little hesitation terrible charges of subversion.

It should be sternly pointed out: these are thoroughly anti-people measures that the Kuomintang13 was infamous for, and have nothing whatsoever to do with acts expected of communists. They are also in serious violation of the principle of "managing correctly the contradiction among the people" that Chairman Mao advocated. Not only will they fail to resolve the contradiction, but the antagonism will on the contrary flare up, possibly getting out of hand. We thereby loudly appeal for an immediate halt to the criminal repression of the great masses of workers and peasants. We also call for severe punishment of those heartless officials who perpetrated such deeds with little sense of restraint. To any call from the people to address their pressing question of survival, we should offer a reasonable solution.

We, as veteran party members, cadres, military personnel and intellectuals who feel deeply for the party and the people, have for a long time been deeply concerned about the party's development and the direction that it's heading in. At this conjuncture, when the party seeks to draw some lessons from its ruling experiences, we feel deeply that we have the responsibility to present to you some views and opinions of ours and wish you to grant them consideration.


Notes

1. "Reform and opening up" (of China to the "outside world") is the buzzword for the official policy embarked on in 1978 under the leadership of the late leader Deng Xiaoping (who died in 1997) of decollectivisation in the countryside and greater tolerance of private capital in the city. Since the 1990s, this has turned into rapidly escalating privatisation, increasing dominance of capital and widespread social attacks on the labouring classes. All these were justified under the excuse of speeding the development of the productive forces during the early stages of "socialism".

2. This refers to the popular Chinese fable in which an old man, with utter determination and persistence, managed to mobilise his clan over several generations to join him in flattening a mountain, despite it being an apparently impossible task.

3. These are only some examples of the many "theories", in fact crude analogies, put forward to ease the way for rampant privatisation. One argument proclaims that only the smaller state enterprises are sold while the big ones will be retained. Another advocates state enterprises retreating to make space for "people's enterprises". Another urges letting the "pretty girls" marry first, which is doublespeak for the most lucrative state enterprises being sold first. Yet another compares a state enterprise to an ice-cream on a stick, which will be worthless once it melts, i.e. if the sale is delayed.

4. The "spitting theory" is reportedly put forward by top neo-liberal economist Zhang Weiying from Beijing University, who suggests that one of the best ways to privatise state firms is to drag them down first. It's like dealing with a bowl of rice that is meant to be shared among a number of people. One of the best ways to claim it for yourself, Zhang reportedly said, is to spit in it, after which nobody else would be interested, but that person can go on with the consumption after removing the contaminated bit.

5. See introduction to this article.

6. A major state enterprise based in Shanghai, one of China's top steel producers.

7. Nanjie Village is near Luohe city, Henan province, and has retained collective ownership and management of all its agricultural and industrial enterprises despite de-collectivisation having swept China since the early 1980s. With pooled resources, all agricultural production in the village is mechanised, uncommon in China. In the decade to the mid-1990s, the list of free or collectively paid welfare areas grew to 14, including education, health care, water, electricity, coal, natural gas, cooking oil, flour, family planning and agricultural taxes.

8. Under the family contract responsibility system started in the late 1970s, which replaced collective farming, rural households were each given a small plot of state-owned land for cultivation. Households were also given the new right to sell any surplus crops in the market after meeting state procurement obligations.

9. Sannong literally means "three rurals". This refers to the Chinese understanding of their contemporary rural crisis being a complex problem that involves three interlinked dimensions, relating to farmers, agricultural production and the rural community.

10. Meaning respectively The Pursuit of Truth and Mainstream. Both were banned in August 2001, after a track record of being openly critical of then supreme leader Jiang Zemin's pro-capitalist measures. In July 2001, Jiang called for capitalists to join the CCP, on which The Pursuit of Truth quickly launched an attack.

11. Alternatively called the Four Cardinal Principles, these were introduced by then leader Deng Xiaoping in 1979. They are: we must keep to the socialist road, we must uphold the dictatorship of the proletariat, we must uphold the leadership of the Communist Party, and we must uphold Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought.

12. This seems to refer to the former director of China's National Bureau of Statistics.

13. The Kuomintang was the corrupt and brutal nationalist party that ruled China for over three decades before the 1949 Chinese Revolution.


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