WASHINGTON—At two recent forums on China, renowned dissidents and academic critics agreed that the Chinese Communist rulers are slowly losing their grip on the country and control of the minds of the Chinese people. Turmoil in the streets and countrysides and widespread renouncing of the Chinese Communist Party indicate that brute force is increasingly required for the CCP to maintain control.
On Capitol Hill on Dec. 10 in observance of Human Rights Day, Dr. Joseph A. Bosco and Dr. Sen Nieh, described a picture of a Chinese regime in deep trouble. The forum was about the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China and hopeful signs that the oppressor’s days are numbered.
At the Cato Institute on Nov. 23, China dissidents Chen Guangcheng and Wei Jingsheng discussed the Chinese people coming to better understand the damage, physical, legal, and economic, that the CCP is inflicting on them.
“The CCP has succeeded in building China’s economic and military power, with the generous, and sometimes short-sighted, help from the West,” said Joseph A. Bosco, who is a member of the U.S.-China task force at the Center for the National Interest and a nonresident senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He served as China Country Director in the office of the Secretary of Defense (2005-2006).
He continued: “Yet, the PRC is not secure in those achievements because it knows it does not enjoy genuine political legitimacy in the eyes of the Chinese people. That is why there are over 100,000 civil protests across China per year and why it spends even more on internal security than it does on its massive military budget. The Chinese Communist Party is afraid of the Chinese people.”
The over 100,000 incidents was also cited by Dr. Murray Scot Tanner, Asia analyst at CNA, in testimony on May 15, 2014, before the U.S.-China Economic Security and Review Commission, where he said, “The Chinese Academy of Social Science reported in 2012 that mass incidents now regularly exceeded 100,000 per year.”
Dr. Sen Nieh, a member of the Washington DC Falun Dafa Association (WFDA), gave as an example of how members of the Communist Party are leaving the Party. In Hubei province, a group of 5,000 decided en masse to quit the CCP and its affiliates in the summer of 2013.
At the Capitol Hill Forum, the Global Service Center for Quitting Chinese Communist Party (aka the Tuidang Center), which cosponsored the forum along with WFDA, provided the latest statistics on the numbers of persons who have quit the Communist Party and/or its affiliated organizations, the Communist Youth League and Young Pioneers.
According to the Center’s chairperson, Yi Rong, there have been over 220 million such renunciations.
“In 2015, the Tuidang movement has been growing at a rate of about 95,000 people per day,” she said.
Citing the same statistics, Dr. Nieh spoke of the “disintegration of the CCP,” and how it is losing its grip. He gave many examples and statistics of discontent among ordinary Chinese that frequently ends up turning violent. Dr. Nieh is chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department of Catholic University of America, and came to this country 35 years ago from Taiwan.
For example, last week on Dec. 9, in Hubei Province, thousands of villagers protested a waste treatment plant that is going to be installed. “People became embroiled with the police and two villagers were killed, and many police cars were turned over,” he said.
About a year ago, there was a major teachers’ strike over low wages and poor benefits across six provinces, from the middle to NE China. Tens of thousands of teachers were involved.
Over 500 protests/group conflicts of at least 15 people occur in China each day, he said. Large-scale protests are defined by 5,000 or more. On average, one of these large-scale protests occurs per day somewhere in China. His statistics come from state sources.
Dr. Nieh’s number of 500 per day totals to over 180,000 per year, which is what Max Fisher wrote in The Atlantic in Jan. 5, 2012. Fisher said, “China saw 180,000, riots, and mass demonstrations in 2010 alone—on average about 500 every day—a number that has likely since increased.” Nieh’s point is that the number of these riots has been increasing in recent years. He argues that the number that Professor Bosco and Tanner are using of “over 100,000” is an underestimate and outdated now.
China security forces are primarily a military troop with military ranks on their uniforms, who use military tactics and weaponry to suppress the protests, including machine guns and tanks, he said. They may use real bullets to kill and hold on to the dead bodies without giving them back to the families. Over the last five years, the security budget exceeded the People’s Liberation Army’s budget.
Dr. Nieh said, “Their number one enemy is not the U.S.,” implying that it’s the Chinese people.
Communist Party officials are leaving China in large numbers, Dr. Nieh said. The number of “naked officials” (meaning spouse and children are already living abroad) were estimated at 1.18 million during 1995 to 2005, according to anti-corruption expert Prof. Lin Jie in China, Nieh said. The top 4,000 officials fleeing the country took an average USD$12 million per person.
Their first choice of country for naked officials is the United States, especially southern California and the San Francisco bay area. They bought million dollar mansions. Seventy percent of them pay cash. Officials spend $28 billion per year to buy houses around the world.
China Not a ‘Normal’ Government
Chen Guangcheng, 44, the blind human rights lawyer and activist, sees change coming to the authoritarian rule of the CCP. The misinformation and lies that the regime relied upon are no longer working, he said at Cato. Only through coercion can the regime hold on to power, as the people and the Party itself no longer believe in communism. Networking and a growing civil society is opposing the regime. He said that the recent forced public confessions of human rights lawyers (reminiscent of the Cultural Revolution), was “an old trick” to attempt to discredit civil society.
“The government is helping the people realize what kind of a regime they are,” he said, speaking through a translator.
Chen became blind when he was less than a year old. He taught himself law and as a “barefoot lawyer,” became known for exposing the abuses of official family-planning practices of forced abortions and sterilizations in rural China. He also advocated for land rights and for persons with disabilities. The regime imprisoned him for four years and three months. After his release in 2010, he and his family were put under an abusive house arrest. Chen managed to escape in April 2012 and made his way to the American Embassy in Beijing, stirring up a major international controversy. Eventually Chen, his wife and two children were permitted to leave China for the United States. Chen is currently at the Witherspoon Institute and is a visiting fellow at Catholic University of America.
“China is not a ‘government’ in the normal sense of the word,” he said.
“The one party dictatorship of the Chinese Communist Party is the ultimate source for China’s failure to attain democracy, freedom, and social justice. Due to the public security apparatus, it controls the judiciary and all branches of justice, and at the same time, through the central propaganda department, it blasts its views through all media which it controls. The party, in effect, transcends anything else and asserts its will over everything else.”
“Beating and torture and collateral persecution of family members and activists is commonplace,” he said. Chen knows firsthand, being on the receiving end of many beatings of himself and his wife.
Pressure Inside China Growing
Wei Jingsheng, speaking through a translator, said that China’s economy is a distortion of a normal market economy. China engages in “unfair trade,” because legal and human rights protections are not the same as in other countries.
Wei Jingsheng, 65, chairman of the Wei Jingsheng Foundation, is perhaps the best-known Chinese human rights and democracy advocate. He was sentenced to jail twice for a total of more than 18 years due to his democracy activities. Wei has been nominated seven times for the Nobel Peace Prize and has been the recipient of several prestigious human rights awards.
China’s economy must use other means than the market in order to maintain itself and the high growth, he said.
“In order to maintain a large trade deficit, China must use various means to destroy the market order, including the manipulation of currency, falsifying data, various non-trade barriers, and cleverly avoiding international law, arbitration, and so on.”
When Chinese and U.S. businessmen “care only about money that is not associated with human rights, Chinese society is hurt,” he said.
Wei said that pressure for change inside China has become stronger and stronger. “Unfortunately, the pressure from the international community is very small and that is why we have not seen much change in China. The Chinese people have to keep up the pressure until the communist regime can’t continue and collapses. Therefore, it is very important that the international community apply pressure.”