The Sydney Morning Herald has an interview with Mao Yushi, whose irrepressible optimism about the future of China makes a nice break from all the doom and gloom elsewhere:
You might think that after enduring a mass hate campaign, including threats of blackmail and brutality, it would be time for an 82-year-old intellectual to consider taking a backward step.
But that would underestimate the fortitude of Mao Yushi, an important mentor for several leading liberal economists, as well as the conviction he shares with thousands of other active Chinese liberals that history is on his side.
Mr Mao lamented China’s backsliding on economic reforms and its recent surge of political repression.
He dismissed the country’s incoming leaders as being beholden to the current ones and for being focused only on protecting the Communist Party regime.
And he said officials and wealth have fused together into formidable vested interests that resist reform.
But he is nevertheless convinced that the country is on the brink of democratic change. ”I don’t know how it will happen but I feel confident,” he said. ”We will witness reform in the next five to 10 years.”
Mao Yushi’s recent cycle of trouble started in April when he wrote an essay about another Mao, the former god-like chairman, titled ”Returning Mao Zedong to Human Form”.
The Chairman’s ”thirst for power dominated his life, and to this end he went entirely mad”, he wrote.
Mr Mao’s own family had suffered greatly under Chairman Mao and he was appalled that such realities were being submerged by a tide of neo-Maoist nostalgia and leftist activism. Mr Mao posted his essay on his Sina blog and censors immediately took it down. He reposted it, they deleted it, but others reposted it on thousands of sites, including the progressive media platform Caixin Online.
And yet in contrast with some other nations, Mr Mao said China ”is not likely to see civil war”.
”Whether things improve when China’s dynasty changes depends on the maturity of the people,” he said. ”Thanks to the internet, the level of people’s awareness and knowledge has improved a lot.”
Last week, Mr Mao appeared on a panel at the Central University of Finance and Economics, in what was his first public appearance since being blackballed earlier in the year.
”During the break lots of students surrounded me and showed their support for me,” he said. ”They shouted ‘down with Mao Zedong’.”