【新唐人2012年12月2日訊】【世事關心】(238) 淫照門與《紐時》報導顯「後18大」權鬥模式：探討中共新領導人掀起反腐聲浪背後的用意。(English Script included below)
The Post-18th Congress Power Struggle Pattern Revealed in the Sex Tape Scandal and Wen Jiabao’s Exposure by NY Times
Title: The Post-18th Congress Power Struggle Pattern Revealed in the Sex Tape Scandal and Wen Jiabao’s Exposure by NY Times
Simone Gao: Starting in late November 2012, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has entered into the “post-18th National Congress era”. This era is characterized by the CCP’s leadership having no intention of making any fundamental changes to their political system in the near future and being unwilling to open the power system to allow more social forces to participate. However, they are now faced with a series of problems, including the polarization between the rich and the poor, corruption and the crisis of confidence in the regime. They also have to come up with a way to deal with these issues as well as responding to the public’s concerns. With the conclusion of the CCP’s National Congress, the topic of political reform has gradually fallen silent. The tone of “anti-corruption" in news coverage has suddenly become prominent in the CCP’s official media. It seems to have become the first major action of the current CCP central leadership after taking office. What is the intention behind the new CCP leadership’s new round of anti-corruption wave? What does it demonstrate, regarding the situation within the regime’s system? In this episode of Zooming In, let’s focus on this topic.
Narration: On the morning of November 17, 2012, the new 18th CCP Central Political Bureau held its first group learning session. In the first Politburo event presided over by Xi Jinping as the CCP’s general secretary, the first problem he mentioned was corruption within the Communist Party. He said, “Things must have first been rotten, before breeding worms". Then he used a very strong tone to warn all Politburo members that, “there is considerable evidence to show that the problem of corruption has been intensifying and it will eventually lead to the ruin of the Party.” In these several short sentences, on one hand, Xi Jinping indirectly denied the so-called recent “anti-corruption" achievements touted by the CCP, and acknowledged the growing problem of corruption. On the other hand, Xi expressed his sense of crisis – if the CCP doesn’t want to see the Party’s demise, it’s officials must fight corruption. At the same time, he implied that he would fight corruption within the existing system, rather than change the system itself.
Narration: Immediately after Xi Jinping made his anti-corruption declaration, the Internet anti-corruption battlefield “with Chinese characteristics” presented its first “great achievement" to the CCP’s new leaders. On November 20, screenshots and reports about an obscene video started circulating on Sina micro-blog. The “leading actor” in this video was thought to be Lei Zhengfu, the Party secretary of Beibei District in Chongqing. Immediately afterwards, Lei Zhengfu told the media that the video was a fake, and he was not the man in it. However, only one day later, the Chongqing Municipal Commission for Discipline and Inspection said that it had noticed the contents of the video depicting promiscuous behavior. However, on November 22, Chongqing Municipal Commission for Discipline and Inspection confirmed that the video was not fake. On November 23, the commission further confirmed that the man in the video was indeed Lei Zhengfu. The Chongqing municipal government immediately decided to remove Lei from office and started an investigation. From the video first being exposed on the micro-blog to Lei being sacked, only three days had passed. It was also on November 20 that Sun Zhengcai succeeded Zhang Dejiang as the Party secretary of Chongqing municipal government. After being in office for only three days, Sun Zhengcai had implemented in Chongqing the guiding principles of Xi Jinping’s first speech on the Politburo’s group learning session. And, in the name of anti-corruption, Sun Zhangcai took down a district Party secretary from Bo Xilai’s era in Chongqing.
Narration: The mainland Chinese media also quickly reacted to this incident. The Global Times published an article on November 23, praising the speedy response of the Chongqing government. The China Youth Daily’s China Youth Network called Lei’s downfall “China’s anti-corruption first gunshot” after the CCP’s 18th National Congress. The Lei Zhengfu incident has also greatly excited Chinese netizens, who’ve expressed their resentment for corrupt officials. This is the first time in China that a sex video of a corrupt official was directly exposed on the Internet. The sensation is almost comparable to actor Edison Chen’s sex photo scandal a few years ago. Now there’s a new Internet buzzword in China – “Lei Guanxi".
Narration: However, behind the sensation and uproar surrounding the “Lei Zhengfu sex video gate", some unusual signs attracted people’s attention. On November 25, NTDTV interviewed first whistleblower Zhu Ruifeng, who is the editor-in-chief of www.jdwsy.com (People’s Supervision Website). Zhu Ruifeng mentioned that prior to the 18th National Congress, he repeatedly received phone calls and e-mails from someone identifying themselves as a “police officer within the Chongqing Public Security Bureau". Lei Zhengfu’s indecent video was provided by this informant.
(Zhu Ruifeng: He told me that the 18th National Congress was going to be held soon, and he would like to report Lei. The secretary of the Discipline Committee might be replaced, and a new municipal leadership team was going to be established. He wanted to topple a corrupt official and a senior one, too.)
Narration: Zhu Ruifeng also revealed that the indecent video was filmed in a setup by a builder in Dian Jiang County in 2007. The video was filmed in secret to be used to threaten Le Zhengfu later. However, Lei Zhengfu reported the incident to Bo Xilai of his own accord. However, instead of being held responsible, Lei was even promoted. The builder was sentenced to one year in prison for the crime of fabricating public office seals. Zhu Ruifeng also told the reporter that his is in possession of the sex videos of at least four deputy departmental level officials. All of the videos were obtained by searching the builder’s office and handed over by the informant within the Chongqing Municipal Public Security Bureau. After confirming the facts, Zhu Ruifeng plans to post them on the Internet in the future.
Narration: Zhu Ruifeng also said that during his investigation and verification of the report, he was obstructed by various forces mobilized by Lei Zhengfu. However, in comparison with the “interprovincial destruction of newspapers” incident which took place before the 18th National Congress, Zhu Ruifeng’s investigation was relatively smooth. In this incident, Yunnan’s City Times reported on the luxury watches worn by Fujian Province’s transportation minister. As a result, under pressure, hundreds of thousands of newspapers were destroyed. Because he possessed sex videos of other incumbent senior officials, Zhu Ruifeng’s personal safety was threatened. Almost at the same time, dissident writer Li Yuanlong, who exposed the case of five homeless children in Guizhou being suffocated when lighting a fire in a trash can, was forced to “take a trip”.
Simone Gao: Let’s hear Heng He’s view on whether the unusual signs in the Lei Zhengfu Incident reflect the special circumstances within the CCP’s power black box or not.
Simone Gao: Once his indecent video was exposed on the Internet Lei Zhengfu was quickly sacked. The video was leaked out from the Chonqging Public Security Bureau. The newly appointed Chongqing Municipal government Party secretary responded quickly. The whistleblower did not have his speeches banned immediately or receive any retaliation, unlike the usual handling of such cases in the past. The incident happened to take place in Chongqing under Bo Xilai’s rule. Do you think that this event is just the implementation of Xi Jinping’s call for anti-corruption, or there are other purposes involved?
Heng He: This is not quite like a call for anti-corruption. If anti-corruption is being carried out as a movement, then they would have some specific arrangements. Also, to consistently implement it from the top to the bottom, step by step, the process takes time. Some framework for reactions at the bottom also need to be set first. For example, who can be touched when fighting corruption, who cannot be touched, etc. This is because if they indeed want to combat corruption, too many people would be implicated. Therefore, they cannot fight corruption based on real corruption cases. From this incident, we can see that their response was swift. It took less time than any process that places a case on file for investigation. From Lei Zhengfu’s sex video being discovered, to it being exposed, and to Lei Zhengfu being investigated and dealt with, the entire process had already been arranged and prepared. On the other hand, before the CCP’s 18th National Congress was held, Bo Xilai had been dealt with. Between the 18th National Congress and next year’s National People’s Congress (NPC) and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), before the power transfer within the national institutions, the Bo Xilai problem will have been solved. In this process, (the CCP’s top leadership) might create some public opinion and come up with some typical cases to show people that Bo Xilai needs to be taken down. In this way, some of the remnants of Bo’s scandal can be cleansed.
Simone Gao: If this is cleansing some of Bo Xilai’s remnants, it reminds us of some recent unconfirmed rumors. It is said that Xi Jinping intends to launch a “rectification movement" in the spring of 2013 in Beijing, in the name of anti-corruption. Do you think that similar practices used by the Chongqing government in the treatment of Lei Zhengfu will appear in many other places?
Heng He: I’ve always believed that Chongqing is likely to be used by the Chinese Communist Party to accumulate some experiences in their future cleansing, “rectification” or “anti-corruption” movements. The Chinese Communist Party has always been like this, doing things in all areas by drawing upon the experience gained on key points. It happens to have many representative cases under the rule of Bo Xilai. They may accumulate experiences through processing these typical cases, because the “rectification” and anti-corruption movements are very difficult. In the last dozen years, the system had already been set up. This is to say that previously, they (the CCP) not only encouraged corruption, they even made corruption mandatory. This was Jiang Zemin’s ruling method during his reign. After corrupting all officials, Jiang used anti-corruption means to combat his opponents, in order to build up his authority. Now Xi Jinping is faced with a problem: If he indeed fights corruption, he will be unable to move a single step. This is because all of his anti-corruption CCP officials are corrupt themselves. No one is clean, so how can Xi fight corruption? If Xi uses anti-corruption to establish his authority, then he will have to choose. How can he choose? I think that the experiences gained in Chongqing can be possibly used for his future reference. However, one thing is certain. If he wants to save the Communist Party with anti-corruption, he may work for nothing. This is because as long as he initiates the anti-corruption movement, he immediately will find himself unable to move a single step. It is impossible to fight corruption. Of course, he may select one or two “unlucky corrupt officials” to take down. This is possible. However, when you think about it, in the past dozen years, haven’t they always been doing this? Now, the social grievance in China has become so large that it cannot be resolved by only selecting a few people as scapegoats. However, a full-scale anti-corruption movement will immediately face a problem. That is, the entire Chinese Communist Party cadre system, from the top to the bottom, will entirely collapse.
Simone Gao: Regarding whether the anti-corruption remedy can really cure the chronic illness, let’s hear Wen Zhao’s opinion.
Simone Gao: In the Lei Zhengfu sex sandal, can you identify any new tactics or strategies by the Chinese government? Would such strategies be effective in fighting corruption?
Wen Zhao: From my point of view the Lei Zhengfu sex scandal is no simple anti-corruption case. The government handpicked certain corrupt officials to work on, not in the name of power struggle or factional fight (but in the name of anti-corruption). It is like a stone killing two birds, one bird is the suppressing factions represented by Bo Xilai, and the other to calm the public discontent with anti-corruption gestures, while avoiding getting into the crux of political reform. Excessive powers and corruptions should be reigned in by a healthy political system and rule of law; but not in China. The Chinese utilized anti-corruption in the service of factional fight, which is a typical example of Chinese (royal) court politicking. There’s nothing new in that regard. But, as far as we can see, the Chinese government has grown quite apt in leveraging public opinions (for their inner factional fights): They leak the news to the public, let the netizens spread the news on their own, and then punish the officials in the name of the people. This method is a warning sign to potential opponents: You need to cooperate with us. Otherwise you will be both fired from your posts and smeared up publicly. Can such a strategy be effective in fighting corruption? In my opinion, despite Xi JinPing’s anti-corruption determination, he might not get what he wants. Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang is Xi’s predecessor. Zhu is known for his harsh rule: He would skin those corrupt officials, gut them out, and stuff their human skins with straw. But ruthless as emperor Zhu Yuanzhang was, corruption was still prevalent in his court. So I do not think Xi Jinping’s method would be any better. It is an undeniable rule: Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Simone Gao: At the same time the scandal concerning Lei Zhengfu’s video was revealed, an opportunity to reverse the verdict on the sensational “Li Zhuang case” suddenly emerged. Regarding this case, let’s hear Sherry’s comprehensive account.
Sherry: Thank you, Xiao Ming. The Li Zhuang case is also known as the “Li Zhuang Perjury Case”. The litigant Li Zhuang is a criminal defense lawyer. In 2009, amid the “cracking down on the underground criminals” campaign initiated by Bo Xilai in Chongqing, Li Zhuang served as the defense lawyer for one member of a so-called underground gang. However, Li Zhuang was later accused by the local procuratorate of instigating the suspect to falsely claim to have been tortured by the police. Li was also accused of destroying and falsifying evidence, as well as obstructing justice. In 2010, Li Zhuang was sentenced to one year and a half in prison. This case raised a great controversy within the Chinese legal field and abroad. Many people believe that Li Zhuang was seen as the antithesis of Chongqing’s campaign to crack down on organized crimes, and his charges were cooked up to incriminate him. Also, people believe that his imprisonment was single-handedly caused by Bo Xilai.
Sherry: After Sun Zhengcai took office in Chongqing, and Lei Zhengfu was sacked, on November 24, the CCP’s mouthpiece Xinhua Net suddenly issued a newsletter, stating that Li Zhuang had submitted a petition and relevant materials to the Prosecutor’s Office reception office, to the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, and that the Supreme Procuratorate would process the petition in accordance with prescribed procedures. In addition, the BBC reported in more detail that two prosecutors from the Supreme Procuratorate had met with Li Zhuang, his lawyer Wang Shihua, as well as two relatives of the convicted Chongqing “top gang member” Gong Gangmo. The Supreme Procuratorate staff listened to their statements and took notes. The mainland Chinese media Xiaoxiang Morning News has reported that the First Intermediate People’s Court of Chongqing would also be talking to Li Zhuang at the end of November regarding his appeal case. Every day in Beijing, there are tens of thousands of petitioners running between the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the Supreme Court and the State Bureau for Letters and Calls. However, Li Zhuang’s case, which was quickly accepted and processed, is the only one of its kind.
Sherry: According to an article published by mainland Chinese media Qilu Evening News on November 23, Gong Gangmo, who was originally Li Zhuang’s client, stated in his indictment submitted to the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, that the Chongqing task force had coerced him to memorize some prepared remarks and to give false testimony to frame Li Zhuang. This article has been re-published by the CCP’s central-level mouthpiece Xinhua Net. Although there has been no confirmation, on Chinese Internet forums and blogs netizens are generally optimistic about reversing the verdict of the Li Zhuang case. In addition, Li Zhuang has revealed to the media that large sums of money confiscated during the “crackdown on underground societies” campaign had disappeared. The gang members, for whom Li Zhuang served as defense lawyer, had more than 90 billion yuan in assets. Gong Gangmo’s case involved several dozen billion yuan. However, the national treasury only received 0.93 billion yuan. Will signs of Li Zhuang’s case’s possible reversal expose some inside information of the “crackdown on underground societies” campaign? Many commentators are anticipating this. Xiao Ming.
Simone Gao: Thank you Shelly. Next Wen Zhao will update us on lawyer Li Zhuang’s case and what that case could tell us.
Simone Gao: Per your previous comments, the new twists in lawyer Li Zhuang’s case has a direct connection with the Lei Zhengfu sex scandal – both of them are part of the aftermath of Bo Xilai’s fall. Do you think Xi Jinping and his colleagues have any real plan to turn the tide on Chongqin’s dahei (gang-busting) campaign?
Wen Zhao: Sooner or later, dahei (gang-busting campaigns) in Chongqin will be de-legitimated, which is a necessary step to totally purge Bo Xilai’s influence. Dahei was a main channel for Bo Xilai to buy public approval and popularity. The only thing is to what extent Beijing will disconfirm Dahei. The Chinese have on numerous occasions revised its historical decisions; but such historical revisions came in varying forms and degrees. As far as the Great Cultural Revolution is concerned, it was later confirmed that nothing good ever came out of it, and the blame was placed on the “Gang of Four” and Linbiao –they were the scapegoats. As to the Great Leap Forward, it was later considered a bad thing, too, but the CCP’s official history does not mention the tens of millions who starved to death as a result of the ridiculous “Great Leap Forward” campaign. The third historical example coming to mind is the “Anti-right” campaign. The government later acknowledged that it became excessive in being extended to those who were not “rightist.” Some “rightists” were restored; yet the “anti-rightist” movement as a whole was not de-legitimated. In retrospect, under no circumstance has the CCP ever acknowledged its own mistakes with no strings attached. I think this thinking should also apply to how to treat the Dahei campaign. Lots of horrible things happened during Chongqing’s Dahei (gang-busting campaigns): torture, extortion, graft, etc. Dahei’s very existence and mode of operation is a testament to the CCP’s political powers’ capability to trump the law. To restore too many persons wrongfully sacked by Dahei would give off an impression that the CCP has made little progress in the rule of law — they are little better than the Cultural Revolution era. If the extorted sum turned out to be too great, popular grudge against the CCP would be flamed up once more. I think whoever works on cleaning up after Dahei should find a moderate position of not doing too much or too little.
Simone Gao: Historically, each time when the CCP reversed some its “erroneously made verdicts” it would buy itself gratitude from some and hence a period of societal stability. Do you think reversing the result of Dahei would have the same outcome?
Wen Zhao: The reason that past correctional efforts could become political capital was that those campaigns affected a large group of people and hence the “erroneously made verdicts” would affect a lot of lives. Remember, those campaigns were launched on the scope of the whole nation and thus became oppressive measures applied to every Chinese. In the matter of Dahei and correcting mistakes made during Dahei, if the government could persist and correct the majority of wrong cases, it would of course earn gratitude from those involved. But correcting mistakes pertaining to Dahei only, would not calm all discontents in society, for Dahei only concerned a relatively small group. Human rights abuses are seen everywhere in China, involving rights groups, faith groups, dissident intellectuals, ethnic minorities, and victims of individual officials who abuse their powers. All these groups harbor grudges against the CCP and hope to have their demands met. Even doing a wonderful cleanup of Dahei would not satisfy all these groups.
Narration：Just as Li Zhenfu’s viral video and Li Zhuang’s attempt to overturn verdict attracted mainland public attention, another event related to CCP leaders caused quite a disturbance around the world. On November 23, the New York Times re-tooled its efforts, and directed fire towards CCP Premier Wen Jiabao.
Narration: In the second report by New York Times reporter David Zhang at Shanghai, the focus was on tracing the relationship among Pingan Insurance Company and Wen Jiabo’s family members. According to the report Pingan CEO Ma Mingzhe wrote a letter in 1999 to then vice-premier Wen Jiaobao to ask for help when Pingan Insurace Company faced bankruptcy. Under Wen’s mediation, Pingan not only escaped bankruptcy, but also went public on the Hong Kong market. Later, Wen Jiabao’s family members obtained lots of shares of Pingan Insurance Company.
Narration: In October, the New York Times published the report exposing Wen Jiabao’s family’s wealth. Wen’s family commissioned attorneys to publish 6 statements on Nanhua Morning News at Hong Kong, which denied the existence of any so-called “secret wealth,” and reserved the right to seek legal liability from the New York Times. It is worthwhile to pay attention to the sixth statement “We will continue to clarify the untruthful report by New York Times.” The phrase, “continue to clarify” caused many rumors. Some even mentioned that Wen Jiabao suggested an investigation in his family to the CCP’s inner circle. After the New York Times second report, Mingjing News commented that Wen Jiabao would deploy a “big move” to respond, and to prove his clean record.
Simone: Was there any connection between the second expose of Wen Jiabo’s family’s wealth and the anti-corruption storm which struck Chinese officials? Let’s hear Wen Zhao’s opinion.
Simone Gao: The New York Times second expose on Wen Jiabao was released the moment Xi Jinping called to clean the Party of corruption. Is it a mere coincidence or are the two events related?
Wen Zhao: To study Chinese politics, we need to rule out any thoughts of “accident” or “coincidence,” especially in cases concerning people in high offices. To release the report at this moment versus that is not an accident – no actions are for no set purposes. Yet, to pinpoint the exact motive is always the trick of the matter. The lack of information from the closed-door practices renders all solid confirmations a difficult task. The same principle applies to the two New York Times reports, too. Of course, the Times denies any involvement in China’s inner power struggles. But the effect of the timing of the two reports meant a lot to China’s political situations. The first one was released at the end of October, 2012, a serious blow to Wen Jiabao during the final stages of personnel planning for China’s 18th Party Congress. We need to remember that Wen as premier did have a lot to say on who would ascend to the CCP’s core leadership. The second report was posted at the end of the 18th Party Congress, before Xi was ready to step into power and take over the country’s reigns. It was like a checkmate for Xi, to taunt him by saying that you should start with Wen Jiabao’s case if you are serious about your anti-corruption pledge. This is how I see it.
Simone Gao: To finish, let’s listen to Heng He’s view on this.
Simone Gao: The reputation of the New York Times has apparently been greatly impacted by two of its articles on Wen Jiabao. Do you think that Wen Jiabao may carry out some “big moves" to prove his innocence? What kind of impact would his self-defense action have on the Chinese Communist Party’s political circles?
Heng He: First, what kind of cards he holds in his hands is a very difficult question to answer. If he wants to prove his innocence, he might have some ways to do it. Such as, showing his own bank accounts transactions. However, it would be very difficult for him to prove his family’s innocence. First, in the past two or three decades of reform and opening up, all of the powerful people’s families basically had a lot of advantages. Some of these advantages were illegal, but some were supported by policies. It is difficult to draw a line between the wealth accumulated due to the supportive policies and the illegally obtained wealth. This situation is intentionally caused by the Communist Party. The efforts (of Wen Jiabao to prove his innocence) have no impact on the Communist Party, besides proving one thing. The point is that you should not expect any person, his family, his friends or relatives to be able to maintain their innocence in such a high-level position. They are not even able to control their family members. The point is that it can convince people that within the Chinese Communist Party, you cannot count on the emergence of an upright judge, and you cannot expect the emergence of an innocent official.
Simone Gaog (ending statement): The closing of the CCP 18th Congress resolved the myth about the CCP’s power shuffling. Yet, it caused new myths. In the CCP’s fierce fight for power, with one black box changing to another black box, the only real change has been the scene, details, and the leaders’ names. As for the palace politics drama, throughout the decades it has never changed. You can expect that as long as the CCP exists, myths and danger will be the hallmark of China’s official circles. Some western media used the analogy of “Zhongnanhai astrology” to analyze China, to self-deprecate how difficult it is to accurately analyze the black box’s operating system. Perhaps only western astrology, or the Chinese method of The Book of Changes can undertake such a task. But, the truth is that the outcome of the black box fight will influence every Chinese life and fortune. In the environment of CCP rule, any method or source will be politicized. For those who are afraid of or even avoided political topics, they now live in an environment where there is nowhere and nothing without politics. I am afraid the reality is rather ironic. Thank you for tuning in to World Event of Concern. See you next time.