10/12/2006, 00.00
CHINA
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Bao Tong: "Promises of Communist plenum careless and immature"

Bao, ex-member of the Communist Central Committee and personal secretary and friend of Zhao Zhiyang, told AsiaNews that the communiqué issued at the end of the meeting of the Chinese leadership "reminds me of propaganda of 1958 before the Great Leap Forward." Political analysts, scholars and ordinary people are also unhappy.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – The promise to build a "harmonious Socialist society" made during the 16th plenum of the Communist Party Central Committee is "careless and immature". This is Bao Tong's assessment of the outcome of the leadership meeting of China's Communist Party (CCP). Bao Tong is an ex-member of the Communist Central Committee and personal secretary and friend of Zhao Zhiyang [deceased ex-secretary of CCP who fell into disgrace when he sought to defend the Tiananmen Square movement].

In statement to AsiaNews, Bao Tong said the plenum's final communiqué "reminds me of propaganda of 1958 when the party decided to move forward with the rural Communes and the Great Leap Forward, with the tremendous results we all know about."

Circa 350 delegates who participated in the plenum's deliberations signed a final communiqué outlining the government's objectives for the coming 15 years: improving the democratic legal system and human rights protection, narrowing the wealth gap, increasing employment, improving public services of the government, promoting people's moral standards, securing public order and protecting the environment.

Bao said: "The striking similarity is that the promises all sound generous, but in reality they are careless and immature.  Hu Jintao has indeed inherited Mao's tradition in this aspect."

The Communist communiqué admits that in China there are "quite many contradictions and issues that impair social harmony", but believes their abolition to be "imminent". But government slogans no longer convince the population or political analysts.

In an article that appeared today in the South China Morning Post, Xu Yunlong – a 29-year-old small business owner from Beijing – described the construction of a harmonious society as a  "lie to deceive ordinary people."

Xu told the story of his girlfriend, who was arrested and detained for picking a stray dog off the street without permission. "Five months ago, I was less cynical about the government," he said. "But now I understand how corrupt the cops are and how dark our society is."

He Weifang, a law scholar from Peking University, said: "Despite its public popularity, the government slogan of building a harmonious society remains a catchphrase that does not have much credence. It has become a ritual for each new leadership to put forward their own political symbol and ideas to replace that of their predecessor."

The scholar said: "The authorities need to reform China's political and legal systems and give people more freedom of speech. A harmonious society must be one that has freedom of opinions, open debate and the right to demonstrations... It would be a mistake to safeguard power by suppressing opposition."

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