09/25/2009, 00.00
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Give power back to the people, says Bao Tong on the PRC’s 60th anniversary

A former aide to Zhao Ziyang, held by the authorities for 20 years, talks about how Chinese leaders are preparing to celebrate their so-called power, whilst hiding the country’s real problems: corruption, lack of freedom and civil rights, and pollution. He insists that all the people of China want is more democracy and freedom.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – “"How should patriots show their love and concern for their country? By returning power to the people and building a republic,” wrote Bao Tong, a former party official as he commented the 60th anniversary of the proclamation of the Communist state.

In an essay that reached Radio Free Asia, Bao said that this anniversary was not a happy one because “All of the great mistakes at a national level with far-reaching consequences were committed under the planning and leadership of the Communist Party.”

"The People's Republic of China is not a republic at all,” he said. It “is a sort of pathology. [. . .] It consists in the systemic erosion of the rights of citizens to all sorts of things, including elections and private property, by the Party leadership over the last 60 years.”

As a close aide to former Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang (pictured, Bao showing a  photo of Zhao), Bao fell from grace for supporting greater democracy and opposing the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.  For this reason, he was sent to prison for seven years and has been under house arrest after his release.

He is highly critical of the parading of “prosperity” and “rise of China” that leaders want to project on this anniversary, forgetting the “rampant official corruption and an ever-widening gap between rich and poor.”

“Hidden troubles shouldn't be allowed to remain packaged up in talk of 'great and mighty results,' for the sake of our children, our grandchildren, and all their descendants,” he said.

For Bao, China’s so-called progress has been reached through “the plunder of natural resources and the laying waste of the environment”.

Worse still, the government's emphasis on stability has led to the "collapse of personal freedoms, religious freedom, ethnic autonomy, and freedoms of speech, protest and demonstration”. On the contrary, “democracy, openness, competition and meritocracy” are goals to be pursued.

That Is why, “returning power to the people and building a republic” is necessary for the sake of China. “The legitimacy of a republic rests on universal, direct elections. It is the sacred duty of every patriotic citizen to promote universal, direct elections in which there is true competition between candidates,” Bao wrote.

No political party should be given the right to field an approved list of candidates, or to interfere with the right of any candidate to enter the field or to take up their post if they are elected.

Instead, Beijing does exactly the opposite. In order to enforce security ahead of the 1 October celebrations, the authorities have shut down important websites and online discussion forums, arresting those who complain about unjust deeds by the authorities.

Ethnic tensions are swept under carpet; dissidents and civil rights advocates are silenced; warnings are issued against protesting or demonstrating against the government; all this done in order not to unsettle the image of power and harmony that the world will pretend to believe.

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