Speaking to the New York-based broadcaster New Tang Dynasty (NTD), two European politicians expressed hopes that Chinese leader Xi Jinping bring genuine political reform by giving up the regime’s Marxist ideology.
Gerard Batten, a British Member of European Parliament (MEP), urged Xi to abandon communism, calling it an “ideological yoke” that “nobody actually believes in anymore anyway.”
Henri Malosse, a Frenchman who recently served as chairman of the European Economic and Social Committee, said that Xi ought to follow in the steps of Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader who introduced political and economic reforms that led to the dissolution of that nation’s communist system.
“When you decide one day, that all the media will be free, then the communist system will fall apart, because the communist system is a lie in itself,” said Malosse, who has interest in Eastern Europe and learned the German, Polish, and Russian languages as a youth.
Batten, a member of the UK Independence Party, spoke positively of Xi’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign. But he believes that greater political reform is being held back by entrenched vested interests in the Communist Party.
“President Xi Jinping is moving in the right direction,” Batten said, “but we know that there are factions within the Communist Party that are trying to hold things back.”
Batten seemed to refer to the powerbase of former Party leader Jiang Zemin, who served a General Secretary from 1989 to 2002 but continued in retirement to wield significant power over his successor, Hu Jintao, via a cabal of opportunely-placed allies.
Things changed in 2013, when Xi Jinping, a previously little-known official with western Chinese roots, came to power following the Communist Party’s 18th National Congress.
“We wish him well in trying to clean up the Communist Party, but he can only go so far because the whole ethos of the Communist Party is corrupt, inherently corrupt and communism is an evil ideology,” Batten said.
Batten’s view reflects the widely-held view that the political goals and nature of the Communist Party are inimical to the smooth, transparent operation of normal government institutions that would be a prerequisite for lasting reform.
Harbinger of Change?
The MEP also hopes that Xi Jinping will end the persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual practice in tandem with his efforts to clean up corruption.
Falun Gong was first taught publicly in northeast China in 1992. Rooted in ancient Buddhist and Daoist traditions, it gained up to 100 million adherents by the end of the 1999s. But Falun Gong has been subjected to violent repression since 1999, when Jiang Zemin mobilized the Party to carry out a campaign against it.
To date, tens of thousands of practitioners are believed to be have been murdered by the authorities in police custody or through the harvesting of their internal organs for the transplant business.
Malosse condemned the Chinese regime for not making good on its promise to end the organ harvesting from unwilling donors.
“This is unacceptable and unfortunately, despite the promises made by the leadership, has not stopped, and the discrimination which is conducted against the Falun Gong group is something that hurts the conscience of a normal human being,” he said.
“I hope that the president will actually decide to do something about that and stop the persecution,” Batten said. “I understand that this comes more from another faction in the Communist Party.”
The persecution of Falun Gong was popular even among the Party elite—many officials had relatives who had taken up the practice or were themselves practitioners when the campaign began. Jiang Zemin, to keep the momentum going, rewarded those who were eager to carry out his orders by giving them promotions and power.
During Xi’s time in office, with the purging of many officials linked to Jiang Zemin such as former security czar Zhou Yongkang or deputy head of the military Xu Caihou, the authorities seem to have loosened up their repression of Falun Gong.
Over time, according to many reports published by the Falun Gong website Minghui, offenses that once would have reliably gotten a practitioner into a labor camp or worse are often being let off with mere warnings or simply ignored.
Also giving those who want change in China cause for hope are indications that when it comes to Jiang Zemin‘s political fate, Xi Jinping may not be keen on protecting the all-but sacrosanct status of Party leaders,
“So let’s hope that it’s either him or his successor,” Batten said, “that actually has the courage and the vision to be a statesman.”
“He could be the Gorbachev of China,” Malosse said. He believes that dismantling communism is a chance for Xi to leave a positive mark in history: “If the president of China makes this decision, he will be a man in the history books. If he doesn’t do it, one of his successors will do it.”