“Critical report pulled from China’s web”

Two days ago Tsinghua University released an annual report which strongly criticized the lack of political reform in China. Seeing such an important university do so in such strong language was good to see, and their conclusion stated that the following steps are vital to China’s future:

1. “[China must] move in the direction of the mainstream world civilization.” The report holds that the “mainstream world civilization” has as its core values “freedom, rationality, individual rights, market economics, democratic politics and rule of law.”

2. “Recreating social vitality through political reforms.” “Political reform and social construction (社会建设) offer the most practical impetus [means] of moving out of the transformation snare.” The report argues that resolving the problem of black case work (暗箱操作) [or behind the scenes dealing], and promoting the open operation of power, creating mechanisms to check power (制约权力的机制), can serve as the breakthrough points for political reform (政治体制改革的突破口). In recent years, the central party has already promoted open government information (政务信息公开).

3. Carrying out reforms in terms of top-level [institutional] design on the basis of public participation (民众参与). “In fact, one of the most important reasons that reforms have taken a malformed path in recent years is a lack of participation in reform by the masses. In the 1980s reforms were supported by the enthusiasm of an idealism [in society], and the defect of inadequate public participation was not yet so readily apparent. But once this idealism faded, interest [self-interest, the profit motive, etc.] became the chief factor driving reforms. Reform, in the absence of public participation, can quite easily become a large-scale dividing of the spoils (大规模的‘分赃’). Many clear examples of this could be seen in the restructuring of state-owned enterprises in the 1990s.”

4. Finally, the report advocates using “equity and justice” to form a consensus on [further] reforms. “What people feel most readily in the midst of the transformation snare is disaffection, that equity and justice have been destroyed. Therefore, re-coalescing a consensus on reform must be done by defining equity and justice and the most basic value and objective [of reform]. In this sense, the building of democracy and rule of law must be the core content of future reforms in China.”

The report concluded: “In an era like today, what China needs above all else is courage, the courage to face vested interests head on, to break through the fabric of vested interests and through the logic of the ‘transformation snare’, the courage to move beyond the present deadlock and morass.”

That translation came from CMP, which now reports that the paper has been pulled from the internet and disappeared:

The report, authored by sociology professor Sun Liping (孙立平), the former doctoral adviser to now vice-president and successor apparent Xi Jinping (习近平), argued that China was in the midst of a “transformation snare” (转型陷阱) in which the energy and impetus to push ahead with necessary reforms was being lost.

A lengthy summary of the Tsinghua University report was published in the January 9 edition of China Youth Daily, and was quickly posted to a number of major Chinese web portals, including People’s Daily Online. But within hours, links to the article were disabled.

By mid-day the link to the China Youth Daily version at People’s Daily Online called up a warning page that read: “The page you are looking for does not exist. You will be automatically re-directed to the People’s Daily Online homepage in 5 seconds.” A similar warning from the popular Netease web portal read: “We’re sorry, the page you are visiting does not exist or has already been deleted.”

For several hours, users on the popular social media platform Sina Weibo shared a link to a cached version of the China Youth Daily report at Baidu.com, as well as news that the article had been deleted from sites like Netease. By day’s end the Baidu version had been pulled down as well. The page now linked only to the electronic edition of China Youth Daily, where an unreadable image of the original newspaper page could be found but the text to the right only read: “This article has been deleted.”

If the Communist Party’s hold on power was really as secure as their apologists claim, would they need to delete something like this?

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Filed under censorship, civil society, Communist Party, political reform

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