Special Editorial: Unless Persecution Ends, Discussion of Reform in China Is Empty Talk

November 8, 2013 Updated: November 26, 2020

The Chinese Communist Party is seeking to reinvent itself, and the Third Plenary Session of the Central Committee, which opens on Nov. 9, is meant to be the staging ground for putting the Party on a new path of economic reform.

On Oct. 28, the day prior to the announcement of the dates for the Plenum, a SUV carrying three Uyghurs careened through Tiananmen Square, the symbolic seat of power for the Chinese regime. The car left 28 wounded and three dead in its wake before it crashed and exploded, killing those inside.

The chaos on the square provided an ominous counterpoint to the bright official hopes for a new beginning.

Chaos inside the Party has been visible since Feb. 6, 2012, when former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun fled to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu seeking asylum. Wang’s attempt to escape ripped the curtain away from the power struggles inside the Party.

A little over a month later former Maoist golden boy Bo Xilai was stripped of his Party titles and put under investigation. The move against Bo only heightened tensions as first Party chief Hu Jintao, and then successor Xi Jinping, waged war against the faction of former Party chief Jiang Zemin.

Around the same time that the Party’s political turmoil came to the surface, the Chinese nation came to realize that an earlier attempt at renewing the Party through economic reform had failed.

After the disaster of the Cultural Revolution, in the late 1970s the Party had seized on economic reform as a way to survive. But the regime’s political system achieved economic growth at the cost of human rights abuses, environmental devastation, and the over consumption of resources. Now, economic growth is failing and the economy threatens to implode.

Deepening the regime’s crisis, the Party’s ideology is now only window dressing. No matter how many meetings the Party holds in which cadres are forced to recite doctrine, those empty words cannot compel belief.

The ongoing failure of economic growth dissolves the last shred of the Party’s legitimacy. That is why the CCP advertised economic reform would be the business of the upcoming plenum, to give the public reason to believe the Party has a way out.

Factional Struggle

Since Xi Jinping became general secretary of the CCP in November 2012, and Li Keqiang premier in March 2013, the measures they have proposed have encountered intense opposition from the highest levels of the CCP.

This is partly because the CCP will never allow any fundamental change to its authoritarianism. But beyond that, any attempt at change will strike a raw nerve in the members of Jiang Zemin’s faction.

On July 20, 1999, then-Party head Jiang Zemin launched the persecution of Falun Gong. Jiang feared this ancient spiritual practice whose adherents do meditative exercises and live according to the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.

Falun Gong had become too popular. Official regime figures estimated at least 70 million were practicing it, more than the membership of the Communist Party. Among those, Jiang noted, were generals, high-ranking Party members, and members of the security services. The teachings of Falun Gong seemed to be eclipsing Party doctrine in the hearts of the Chinese people.

Jiang ordered the practice eradicated, and told those enforcing the persecution all means were permitted. Brutal torture, brainwashing, and death followed. Party officials set up a lucrative trade in organ harvesting, pillaging organs from healthy Falun Gong practitioners while they were still alive. Investigators believe over 60,000 were killed this way from 1999 to 2008, with more killed every year since.

These extreme measures were taken without even the pretext of a single law making Falun Gong illegal.

Fearing he may one day be called to account for crimes against humanity, Jiang rewarded those who did his bidding against Falun Gong, and filled the top ranks of the CCP, the military, and the state with his henchmen. Even though Hu Jintao succeeded Jiang as the regime’s paramount leader, Hu found the levers of power were difficult to move.

Central to Jiang’s strategy was the elevation of his trusted crony, Zhou Yongkang. In 2007 Zhou became the head of the Political and Legal Affairs Committee—a Party organ of vast power, with authority over almost all elements of the security and judicial systems. In this position, Zhou enforced the persecution of Falun Gong.

Zhou was also made a member of the ruling Politburo Standing Committee, helping guarantee his power could not be checked within the Party—and assuring that the policy of persecution could not be reversed.

But Zhou Yongkang was scheduled to retire in 2012. Zhou plotted with Jiang Zemin and powerbroker and former intelligence chief Zeng Qinghong to have Chongqing Party head Bo Xilai succeed Zhou as the head of the Political and Legal Affairs Committee and on the Standing Committee.

When the time was ripe, Bo would use the extraordinary power he would wield as head of the security forces to unseat Party head Xi Jinping. Once Bo headed the CCP, the guilty would be protected for a long time to come.

This plan of treachery and overthrow was set in motion, but before the plotters’ schemes could fully play out, Wang Lijun made his dash for Chengdu, exposing everything at its most vulnerable point.

Bo Xilai was taken down, and ever since, the hostility of Jiang’s faction to the rule of Xi Jinping has become ever more obdurate.

Jiang’s men cannot stand for Xi Jinping to become powerful. They can’t bear to see Li Keqiang’s economic reforms have any measure of success. This conflict will not end until Jiang’s faction is completely destroyed.

The Costs of Persecution

The persecution of Falun Gong has distorted the moral, legal, and economic systems in China.

Everyone in China knows that morality there has been rapidly declining. The traditional criteria for judging right and wrong, deeply rooted in China’s 5,000-year-old civilization, no longer apply.

The hope behind Deng Xioaping’s economic reforms was that they would provide the foundation for a society ruled by law.

But the slogan of “taking economic development as the center” has been twisted by Party cadres into “taking the persecution of Falun Gong as the core issue.” All state and Party units understand the persecution is supposed to be their core task.

This persecution is built entirely on lies and violence, and it has completely destroyed the hope for an independent legal system in China. The public security, procuratorate, and judiciary have been corrupted and act like Chinese mafia.

The consequences spill over from the victimization of Falun Gong practitioners to the terrorizing of society at large. The abuse of power and the bullying and oppressing of innocent people are widespread. The conflict between CCP officials and citizens is unprecedented.

Even in such an extreme situation, Jiang’s faction seeks to stop any reform to the legal system. Any change will disrupt a mechanism built for enforcing the persecution. Jiang wants to see Xi Jinping’s dream of constitutionalism remain a dream and will not easily accept Xi’s attempts to abolish the forced labor camps.

In order to continue the persecution, Jiang suborned CCP officials into loyalty to him and his persecution, using the opportunities for corruption and embezzlement to win them over.

His people control the most profitable industries in China, such as the petroleum industry, as well as telecommunications, railways, and finance. This control has provided financial resources for the persecution.

Because almost all large industries are under the control of these bigwigs who are loyal to Jiang, any economic reforms will affect that faction’s interests, causing it to lose control of China’s economy. Without financial resources, it is impossible to continue the persecution of Falun Gong, which requires a huge amount of money.

Moreover, as soon as the persecution ends, Jiang’s faction will be prosecuted. Out of economic self-interest and the instinct for survival, Jiang’s faction seeks to derail any economic reform measures.

Empty Talk or Real Reform

As the cadres gather in the Jingxi Hotel in Beijing Saturday to discuss moving the Party forward, they must realize all their plans will amount to nothing until they address the overriding demands of this moment in history.

The Jiang faction is in a state of panic. It has no thought for the good of the country. It does not even have any care for the Party. Its only concern is avoiding having to pay for its crimes. Any move to make even modest reforms will cause shrieks of fear.

In fact, Jiang’s faction and its persecution of Falun Gong have irretrievably destroyed the legitimacy of the CCP.

When the persecution started, perhaps 100 million people in China were practicing Falun Gong. Together with their family members, a group of several hundred million has been directly affected by the persecution.

Their legal rights are not protected. The state’s departments cannot conduct normal operations and society is disrupted. In addition, the authorities have invested huge amounts of resources in this lawless persecution.

The regime’s sustained, large-scale crimes against the practitioners of Falun Gong cannot be justified. Having committed countless crimes, the Party is now hopeless and incurable. This evil regime will inevitably be eliminated by history.

Without ending the persecution, any reform, any attempt to guide society back on track, is a pipe dream.

If the Jiang faction is not eliminated, there is no way the current leadership can make any progress.

Left unaddressed, the crises born of the persecution will erupt sooner or later. Infighting within the CCP will become even more acute. The Party will disintegrate itself.

The current leadership would do better to seek the only real reforms that can change China: take all power from the members of the Jiang faction; end the persecution of Falun Gong; and dissolve the CCP.

Without taking these steps, the leadership will fall into a more and more passive and perilous situation.

Whatever steps the leadership takes, the main perpetrators of the persecution of Falun Gong will eventually be brought to a historic trial. It is better to align with the demands of history than be swept aside by its advance.

Everyone at this significant moment must examine the situation carefully and understand God’s will and the people’s wishes, in order to act wisely and responsibly.

Translated by Olivia Li. Written in English by Stephen Gregory.

Read the original Chinese article.