Dissenting Voices Within Communist Party Before 17th National Congress

By Mu Muying, Cheng Ming Magazine
August 16, 2007 Updated: August 16, 2007

Before the start of the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) 17th National Congress, members have been airing their views by publishing articles or submitting letters to China's top leaders.

The Central Committee of the CCP has also tried to solicit opinions from people in various fields by hosting seminars. Yanhuangchunqiu (Chinese Spring and Autumn), a monthly based in China, published an article on democratic socialism by Xie Tao, which led to heated debates, signaling a strong call from the pro-democracy CCP members for the start of political reform. Meanwhile, the hardliners within the CCP have been pooling their efforts to force Hu Jintao, the party chief, to “clean house” and “return to socialism.” As the 17th congress draws nearer, as in the personnel deployment front, the political struggles will heat up.

Soliciting Opinions about the 17th Congress Agenda

The preparatory group of the CCP's 17th national congress, hosted a series of meetings to gather opinions from retired senior party members, government and military leaders, eminent persons, and leaders of various democratic parties about the topics to be discussed–including the CCP's efforts and increasing social unrest. The meetings were held in summer resorts such as Laoshan in Qingdao City, Shandong Province, and Beidaihe in Qinhuangdao City, Hebei Province. As of mid-July there have been 12 of these meetings, which were attended by China's central leaders: Hu Jintao, Wu Bangguo, and Zeng Qinghong.

Opinions at the Meetings

There were two major contra positions at the meetings. One held that the administration headed by Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao have done a better job than their predecessors; the other believed strongly that the nature of the party and the state have changed, and if the trend is allowed to continue there would be chaos in the political situation and the party and state would perish. In addition to these two clearly defined opinions, there was a third, weak voice, represented by Hu Qili, Wang Guangying, and Chen Jinhua, that called for urgent reform of the political system.

Fifteen Children of Veteran Members Cosigned a Letter to Hu Jintao

On the eve of July 1, 2007, the anniversary of the CCP founding, 15 descendants of CCP veteran members, including Li Tieying (son of Li Weihan), Zou Jiahua (son of Zou Taofen), Li Tielin (son of Li Weihan), Chen Yuan (son of Chen Yun), Nie Li (daughter of Nie Rongzhen), He Jiesheng (daughter of He Long), Ren Yuanzhi (daughter of Ren Bishi), and Ye Zhengda (son of Ye Ting), wrote and cosigned a letter addressed to Secretary General Hu Jintao, and all members of the Central Committee of the CCP.

In the letter the group demanded that the CCP organizations, cadres, and the socialist legal system be constructed well as the party's first priority.

They also said that the slogan “the party works for the good of the public and serves the people” should be matched with deeds and should bring tangible benefits to the people; and that all rules and regulations that are not in line with socialism should be changed. It stated that descendants of older-generation communists should not be privileged and should take the lead in working in the neediest places in China.

Seventeen Former Ministers and Generals Send a Letter to Hu Jintao

On July 12, 2007, 17 former ministers and generals cosigned a letter addressed to Hu Jintao and all politburo members titled “17 Veteran Ministers and Comrades Comment on the 17th Party Congress.” On July 14 the letter appeared on Mao Zedong's Banner, a leftist website in China. The letter was drafted by Ma Bin, former adviser to the State Council's Center on Development Research, and cosigned by Qin Zhongda, former head of China's chemistry ministry, Li Chengrui, former director of China's statistics bureau, Yang Shouzheng, China's former ambassador to the Soviet Union, Wu Shaozu, former chief of China's sports administration, and Li Jitai, former chief of general office of China's central military commission.

The over seven thousand character letter attacked the ills that have appeared since the reform started, detailing an array of cover-ups, complaints, and anger evident in society. It warned that if no decisive measures were taken to redress the situation, people like Boris Yeltsin would emerge within the party and the deaths of the party and the state would follow.

In mid-July 2007, 45 former senior party, government, and military leaders addressed two letters to Hu Jintao and politburo members, calling their attention to the present political crisis, and demanding a house-cleaning and a return to the former socialist path to prevent people like Boris Yeltsin from gaining leadership.

Twenty-eight Retired Senior Officials Cosigned a Letter to Hu Jintao

On July 15, 2007, 28 retired senior party, government, and military officials cosigned a letter addressed to Hu Jintao and the politburo, titled “Our Duty and Concerns.” The letter was sponsored by Generals Yang Baibing, Chi Haotian, and Zhang Zhen, and was signed by, among others, Wang Hanbin, Ren Jianxin, Li Ximing, Wang Binggan, Song Jian, Zhao Nanqi, Fu Quanyou, and Yu Yongbo.

The letter was five thousand characters long, and listed six areas where China has departed from the socialist system and communist ideals in its approach and policies. These areas included political, systemic, economic, social, and foreign fields, and the policy on Taiwan.

The authors also enumerated 15 crisis and apprehension areas. For instance, a bureaucratic privileged class has come into being, which has changed the nature of the whole social system. The social foundation of the socialist system has essentially collapsed, and a political crisis may erupt at any moment; political power plus economic exploitation and pressure have added to the intensity of social conflicts, and further worsened relations between the CCP and the people. The polarization caused by the glaring gap between the rich and poor has led to mass riots, which have the potential to turn into political movements. Officials have embezzled State assets, and hundreds of billions of yuan have been secreted out of China.

Social morality has been declining daily, and endangering the brilliant Chinese culture while having a devastating effect on future generations. The party has deviated from its principles, and its leaders, corrupted to the bone, have lost their authority and people's trust. Various factions and separatist forces are demanding power and money and seeking autonomy from the central government on a variety of pretexts.

In the end, the letter contained an appeal for the 17th National Congress to put an end to the chaos; otherwise, escalated unrest could happen at any time. The letter concluded with a warning: people like Gorbachev and Yeltsin are within the CCP and waiting for the chance to rise to power or to stage a coup.