Ten Thousand Request a Citizens' Oversight Conference

By Yan Xiu, Radio Free Asia
March 6, 2008 12:00 am Last Updated: March 6, 2008 12:00 am

On the eve of China's People's Congress Session in Beijing, more than ten thousand Mainland Chinese citizens issued an open letter to Hu Jintao, Wen Jiabao, and the members of the Congress (two conferences) requesting that a Citizens' Oversight Conference be established to thoroughly sweep away corruption.

This open letter signed by 11,090 people is addressed to President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, the National People's Congress chairman Wu Bangguo, and all representatives of the two conferences.

The letter states, “Attesting to the reality of thoroughly gangrenous official circles, we would like to specifically request that a Chinese Citizens' Oversight Conference, directly under the leadership of the central government of the Chinese Communist Party, be established in order to thoroughly sweep away the corruption that is increasingly flooding this great country. It has formed an appalling phenomenon and awful environment in our society where there is almost no official who is not corrupt.”

A Jianxi human rights activist Deng Taiqing, one of the signed organizers, said that a Chinese Citizens' Oversight Conference was initiated after last year's two conferences. At that time, in an interview by a foreign reporter, Premier Wen mentioned that corruption was a serious and long term problem. Deng thinks the corruption problem in China is caused by a system lacking supervisory measures.

The System is the Problem

Deng said, “We think the first problem is the system, for example, officials are assigned by higher authorities. So they are responsible to the higher authorities and don't place importance on appeals and benefits for the people under them. It is all because the source of their power is from higher authorities, and not from the votes of the people under them. The absolute power comes from an absolute monopoly.

“Lack of supervision is another source of corruption. Their power is unrestrained, unsupervised, especially unsupervised by the people. Therefore, we want to initiate a Citizens' Oversight Conference that allows people to exercise their civil rights, enables a balance of power and equality, and that makes the enforcers and officials responsible to the people, not just higher authorities.”

The letter further stated, “Without citizens' independent and joint oversight, there is no thorough sweeping away of the corruption. This is because, if the citizens do not work together, there is no strength for justice, and if the citizens are not united, there is no strong threat to the evil power.”

A Shenzhen free lance writer Guo Yongfeng, also an organizer, said, “According to the present legal system, people are the masters of the country. Strictly speaking, we represent the people, and so we are requesting the government for this supervisory privilege of the people. We do have this privilege according to the law, but in reality it has not been the case. Why? Citizens as a whole are not able to supervise the government, only a joint organization that is organized by citizens can be effective in this function.”

“Supervision by individuals provides no independent review, and has no potency. It just doesn't work. From ancient times to the present, as long as it is an autocratic system, officials help each other, collude with each other, and collude with businesses.”

Let Us Hold Democratic Elections

The letter requested an approval to establish a Chinese Citizens' Oversight Conference. The letter pointed out in closing, “Let us use democratic means to hold elections to elect various levels of leaders, this is the true way of anti-corruption. We sincerely hope that Chinese society is able to develop and advance healthily. Otherwise, representations about protecting people's property rights and interests are untrue and insincere. This would demonstrate a serious lack of faith in and alienation of Chinese citizens' innate confidence and fundamental capability.”

Former professor of Nanjing Normal College Guo Quan, is also an organizer. He said that various circles have responded to the open letter with enthusiasm, in addition to the over ten thousand signatures, there will be more.

Ground Swell is Building

Guo further said, “We initially hoped for 20,000 signatures, but judging from the situation now, it should far exceed this number. There are many signatures that are in the process of being transmitted. In this phase, we basically have signatures from people who have had democratic aspirations for some time and they are from the middle and higher levels of society. They include college professors, officials inside and outside the ruling system, and some democratic and human rights activists. With their signatures, it reveals a strong force, because every one of them has ten, even a hundred supporters behind them.”