03/19/2007, 00.00
CHINA

Law protecting private property final nail in Maoism’s coffin, says Bao Tong

Bao, a personal friend and former secretary to the late Communist Party Secretary Zhao Ziyang, criticises Wen Jiabao’s argument that democracy cannot exist before the economy guarantees wealth to everyone.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – The law protecting private property rights, passed by China's parliament last Friday, represented the "final bankruptcy" of Mao Zedong's brand of Chinese communism. “It means that after repeated twists and turns for more than half a century, China has finally come full circle. Back to where it started,” said Bao Tong, former member of the central committee of the Communist Party and personal secretary and friend to disgraced late premier Zhao Ziyang,

Mr Bao, 74, was one of the main aides to the former leader of Communist Party and the highest ranking official arrested as a result of the June 4, 1989, crackdown, because his and Zhao’s opposition to sending in the army and tanks to crush the students. Before falling into disgrace and spending seven years in prison he had closely worked with current premier, Wen Jiabao.

Bao, who is under constant police surveillance 24 hours a day, told Radio Free Asia that the new law “means the final bankruptcy of the theories and policies of the 'transitional stage' of socialism proposed by Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong in 1953.” China's contemporary history must effectively be rewritten, Bao noted, because the first half of the communist movement in China had taken the abolition of private property as its central principle.

For him the 40 million who died in the civil war, and the other 40 million who lost their lives in the famine of the Great Leap Forward (1958) and the violence of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) were a “high tuition fee paid in blood” for this history lesson.

He said it was too soon to judge whether the property law would have any effect on massive official corruption, by protecting the rights of individuals in their everyday lives, where they frequently face land-grabs from local officials keen to cash in on lucrative property deals.

“Some people have advanced the view that having a law is better than not having one. But I wonder what sort of effect it can possibly have, for good or ill, in real life. I wouldn't want to speak too soon,” he said.

In another interview given to Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, Mr Bao challenged his former colleague, Premier Wen Jiabao, who argued that the economy comes before democracy. Bao said he believed the premier had only made his comments about democracy and political reforms after careful thought and serious reflection, but added that it was not reasonable to argue that elections should not be allowed because the quality of the mainland's citizens was too low.

“If elections are not to be allowed because the quality of the Chinese people is too poor, then we should be able to have elections in our big cities like Beijing, Shanghai and even Hong Kong, since obviously the quality of the people in these cities is good enough,” Bao said. 

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