06/03/2013, 00.00
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Bao Tong: No progress for China if June 4 massacre is not repudiated

by Wang Zhicheng
The great statesman, a victim of the purges that followed the massacre, points out that the corruption and lawlessness that dominate the country are the direct result of a gag placed on the population and the media which lasts from 1989 to today. Xi Jinping is likely to betray his father, the reformer Xi Zhongxun, after the past months’ increase in ideological control: return to exaltation of Mao and Deng’s economic reforms, but no mention of political reform.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - "Like the Cultural Revolution must be totally repudiated, the June 4 [massacre] must be completely repudiated.. Like Mao was the symbol for the Cultural Revolution, Deng [Xiaoping] was the symbol of June 4... without repudiating Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, it's impossible for China to progress". The speaker is one of the victims of Tiananmen Square and the desire for reform present in Chinese society of the 1980s, rocked by the massacre and repression that followed. Bao Tong (pictured), 81, was collaborator of party secretary, Zhao Ziyang. For having come out against the military intervention in Tiananmen Square, which killed hundreds and perhaps thousands of young demonstrators, he was jailed for seven years. Once freed, he was then placed under house arrest and still is today.

In a telephone interview, published today in the South China Morning Post, the statesman - one of the most enlightened minds of contemporary China - says: " I think every Chinese - officials or ordinary people, those who were persecuted or benefited [from the crackdown] - should all reflect upon this issue" of the June 4 massacre.

On the contrary, police, army and government continue to obstruct any discussion or publication on the subject; they prohibit journalists from covering the issue; they obscure news sites on the Internet and arrest dissidents and human rights lawyers.

"If you cover the mouths of a hundred people - said Bao - there could still be hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of mouths still speaking...But if they silence 1.3 billion people, that's frightening".

After the massacre of June 4, 1989, numerous seminars and debates in universities were canceled; state media which in the 1980s had become increasingly courageous, were gagged; laws in defense of press freedom have been blocked and political reforms - including the separation between the government and the Communist Party and the division of legislative, judicial and executive powers - abandoned.

" If all these mouths were still talking - adds Bao Tong -, I think [our society] wouldn't be as depraved as it is now...Corruption, exploitation, the lack of respect for law, these had the support of tanks and machine guns"

The issue of political reform has re-emerged to the fore after the election of Xi Jinping to Party General Secretary and President of the Republic. Xi is the son of Zhongxun, a reformist under Mao, and for this he suffered marginalization and imprisonment.

"I hope Xi Zhongxun's son will do well, otherwise I shall be very disappointed," said Bao Tong. He confesses that he was impressed by Xi Jinping's words on the value of the constitution and laws to which the members of the Party must submit, but also  of being "perplexed" by the recent strengthening of ideological control underway in the country.

Recently an editorial in the army newspaper proclaimed communist doctrine "the truth of the universe"; the newspaper Guangming Ribao reported statements made by Xi Jinping, according to whom if Mao had been discredited immediately after the Cultural Revolution, the country would have fallen into chaos. A similar judgment is affirmed by the Chinese leaders regarding Tiananmen Square: the massacre was necessary to guarantee stability to the country to ensure the economic development that followed.

Bao Tong is of a different opinion: ""[Some say] our China model is the best in the universe and our truth is the truth of the universe...but without repudiating Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, it's impossible for China to progress".


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