【世事关心】“南周”“劳教”与习近平的自我定位

【新唐人2013年1月13日讯】【世事关心】(244)“南周”“劳教”与习近平的自我定位:从近期重大事件管窥习近平的内心世界。(English script included below)

“Southern Weekend Magazine”, “Labor Camp" and Xi Jinping’s Self-positioning

旁白:2013年开启不到10天,中国政坛和民间就出现了好几件让人震惊的事。首先是1月3号,南方周末的新年献词被广东省宣传部长庹震删改,引起轩然大波,随后炎黄春秋网站又被关闭。1月5日,四川省委人事异动,原四川省长蒋巨峰辞职,其职务由副省长魏宏接替任代省长。1月7号,中国官方媒体一度报导,中央政法委书记孟建柱宣布”中国今年内停止劳教制度“,但是此说法旋即又在官媒被删除。

萧茗:这一系列官场和民间的突发事件和特殊变动毫无疑问折射的是中共高层在18大之后依然没有落幕的权力斗争和中国社会愈演愈烈的矛盾冲突。这一点并不奇怪。但是,我们现在所处的时间点有一些特殊,习近平上任不到两个月,他身上的那层神秘面纱还没有完全退下。西方世界有个惯例,在每一个新的中国领导人上台的时候,他们都会揣测这位领导人的内心世界。也就是这个人对中国现状的真实判断,以及基于这个判断之上的他对自己的定位,再下来才谈的上他的施政方向,才能理解他的政策出发点。 当下发生的这几件事恰恰是可以管窥习近平内心世界的一个机会,从另外一个角度讲,也是检验他的一个机会。 习近平的自我定位,他的政治抱负,以及他在这场博弈中所处的位置和他面对的真实的中国,这是我们今后需要持续探讨的问题, 今天就让我们从最近发生的这几件大事开始说起。

字幕: “南周”抗议,炎黄春秋被封

旁白:1月3日,南方周末网络微薄以报纸编辑部落款署名发出消息,指南方周末刚刚发出的2013年新年贺词“我们比任何时候都更接近梦想”不是本报编辑审定的稿件。一时间一石激起千层浪。随后有消息爆料,《南方周末》新年献词的起草过程一直受到中共广东省委宣传部的干预,报社编辑定稿签发的版本未通过审查,遭到撤稿。最后发表的贺词出自广东省委宣传部长庹震之手。

据称原本题为“中国梦,宪政梦”的新年献词呼应习近平最近提出的“中国梦”。指出中国需要宪政改革,希望中国走上一条宪政之路。但是被庹震改成了一篇为中共歌功颂德的马屁文章。

1月4日《南方周末》前雇员联署公开信,要求广东省委宣传部长庹震引咎辞职。并指庹震的做法“越界”、“擅权”和“愚昧”。

1月6日,《南方周末》官方微博发出一篇“致读者”,文中说“本报1月3日新年特刊所刊发的新年献词,系本报编辑配合专题‘追梦’撰写,特刊封面导言系本报一负责人草拟,网上有关传言不实。”

但是随后,一份由十多人署名的“南方周末经济部全体编采人员共同声明称,“十万火急!经过一天的攻防过后,南方周末官微失守!所做声明不能代表南方周末采编人员态度,为有关当局施压南方周末管理层的结果。”

1月7日,多家媒体报导,此前保持沉默的中共中宣部发出通知,力挺宣传官员庹震。中宣部就此事定性严厉,传达了三点,首先,党管媒体是不可动摇的基本原则;南方周末此次出版事故与庹震无关;最后,此事有境外敌对势力介入。中宣部还要求各地媒体、网站8日起转载《环球时报》批评南方周末的社评《南方周末“致读者”实在令人深思》,

但是1月8号,大家发现全国很多媒体并未转载《环球时报》的文章。有些媒体甚至公开抵制,《新京报》传出因为不愿意转载《环球时报》的文章,社长直接冷言回应北京宣传部长,以口头辞职作为抗议。南周事件继续发酵,1月7、8日连续两天,大陆民众自发到南周总部献花声援,表达对《南方周末》的支持,并自制各种各样的抗议标语在现场展示,要求捍卫新闻自由。据民众目击,现场人数有3-400人。中国社会各界,学生、学者、律师,甚至海外的各种声援也此起彼伏。

值得注意的是,除中宣部控制的《环球时报》外,中共的另外几大喉舌-《人民日报》,新华社和中央电视台迄今为止没有对南周事件表态, 而《人民日报》日前还发出了评论,呼吁中共各地宣传战线管理者,要[踏准中央的节拍,顺应时代的节奏],要[与时俱进]。香港苹果日报援引背景政治学者,赵紫阳时代中共中央智囊吴稼祥的观点说:“《南周》事件中中共表现两种互相矛盾的处理手法,实为[有两个中央在运作],学者指,《人民日报》可视为是中共总书记习近平的“喉舌”,其评论就是对广东省委宣传部的批评;

1月8号,路透社引述接近中共广东省委的人士透露,胡春华亲自介入目前的僵局,提供解决方案。根据这一方案,报社员工结束罢工,恢复正常工作,本周报纸照常出版;不搞秋后算账。该报主编黄灿和广东省委宣传部长庹震将被撤换。但为了官方的面子,庹震不会立即离职。1月10号,南方周末如期正常出版。

几乎和南方周末事件同时发生的是大陆知名刊物“炎黄春秋”的网站在1月4号被关闭,炎黄春秋是由一些中共党内元老,作家和学者等创办的一个具有改革派色彩的综合月刊。 刊物多刊登有关中共党史敏感事件的评论和时评文章,而文章不时和官方的历史结论有出入,或者主张党内各项改革,因此受到关注。1月初,《炎黄春秋》网站发表题为《宪法是政治体制改革的共识》的新年致辞,与《南方周末》希望实现宪政改革梦想的新年致辞相似,1月4号,网站遭到关闭,一直到现在。

萧茗: 南周事件持续发酵,延续到今天它的影响已经扩展到中国社会各界以及海外,发自各个阶层的声援,要求新闻自由的呼声此起彼伏。那麽,接下来事态还将如何发展,对南周事件的处理方式是否可以折射出习近平的政改走向?就这些问题我稍早采访了本台资深评论员横河。一起来听一下。

萧茗:在南周的问题上,这个环球时报和中共的其他的几个喉舌媒体确实是态度不一样的,那么习近平控制的人民日报前几天还发表了一个评论,是呼吁中共各地的宣传战线的管理者,要踏准中央的节拍,顺应时代的节奏要与时俱进,那么这个评论呢就被解读为,是对广东省委宣传部的一个批评。
你认为就是习近平他在处理南周这个问题上,他会是把握了一个什么样的尺度呢?

横河:我认为是这样的,就是习近平他上台以后呢,现在面临的两大挑战,就是中共统治的,一个枪杆子、一个笔杆子都面临着很大的挑战,那么在枪杆子方面呢就说暴力镇压方面,是一个劳教制度很可能他会选做一个,就是改变形象的地方。

另外一个呢,就是谁都没有想到的出了这个南周事件,那么南方周末这个事件呢,主要是就是并不是宣传口,控制媒体本身他们认为有问题,因为中共它一直在控制,而是说他控制的方式,和这个自己走到台前去了,本来他们是在幕后的,走到台前去了。那么这一点呢,可能说引起了民愤,那么对于习近平来说的话呢,这就是一个很重要的一个地方,他必须去处理,不能回避的。

那么我想呢就是说,人民日报的这篇文章,其实并没有说,这个宣传部门控制媒体是错的,他只是说,你们的作法不要给中央添乱。所以从这个角度上来说的话,我觉得他们很可能是在手法上要做得更隐蔽, 或者是更不让人发现。而不是说就从这个控制媒体的领域退出来了。

萧茗:如果这样说的话,因为现在外界很关注就是对于南周事件的处理方式,是不是可以折射出习近平他的政改的走向?那按照您的说法,其实他是换汤不换药了,
您觉得有没有可能在一定程度上,这件事情的处理方式,能够折射出习近平的政改的走向呢?

横河:我觉得现在这个南周事件的处理方法,还是停留在就是危机应对的这种处理方法,就是说他并没有动这个宣传口的一个最基本的东西,而是说怎么样在这个情况下,既不丢宣传口的整体的面子,就包括宣传部门和中共的宣传一贯的这种做法,不丢这个面子。另外一方面呢,又让南周人能够妥协,还有一个呢要让大家平息下去,那么这几个呢实际上是都是在一个操作层面,所以我把它叫做危机应对。而真正说要反应他的所谓政改的走向,或者是政改的路怎么走的话呢,我觉得通过这一个处理危机的方式,可能还不容易体现出来。

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萧茗: 在南周事件发生几天,事态还在发展的时候,北京又传出了另一个惊人的消息。 中央政法委书记孟建柱突然在全国政法工作电视电话会议上宣布”中国今年内停止劳教制度“,但是,这个消息被中共各大官媒报导了一天后,又被拿下了。具体情况我们请雪莉来给我们介绍一下。

雪莉:好的萧茗。北京时间1月7日,中国多家官方媒体报导,中央政法委书记孟建柱当天上午在全国政法工作会议上提出将进一步推进劳动教养、涉法涉诉信访工作、司法权力运行机制、户籍制度的改革,“四项改革”被确定为2013年工作重点。会上,孟建柱还宣布,中央已研究,报请全国人大常委会批准后,今年停止使用劳教制度。

从南都网这篇报导所给出的网络截图可以看到,当初报出这个消息的中共官方媒体包括“新华网”和“央视新闻”。

但是,一天以后,中共官方媒体引述的孟建柱关于”中国今年内停止劳教制度“的话被删掉了。只剩下了“深化四项改革”的内容。“今年内停止劳教制度“这句话只有在一些官方色彩不太浓的网站,例如腾讯网,南都网,凤凰网,以及新华社的英文推特网页上还被保留。

中国的劳教制度臭名昭著,早就被海内外学者广泛诟病。2012年12月4日,中国著名民生问题学家、北京理工大学经济学教授胡星斗,将两份长达2,300字、69名专家学者签名的,建议对“劳教制度”进行违宪审查和废止的司法建议书,通过特快专递形式寄往全国人大常委会和国务院。

有意思的是,同一天,习近平在首都各界纪念中国宪法公布施行30周年会上发表讲话说:“宪法的生命在于实施,宪法的权威也在于实施,要坚持不懈抓好宪法实施,把全面贯彻实施宪法提到新水平”,他强调:“要坚持依法治国、依法执政。” 很显然,劳教制度就是中共司法体系中公然违反宪法的部分。如果习近平真的在做一个宪政梦的话,他是绕不过劳教制度的。

于此同时我们还看到,孟建柱的“今年停止使用劳教制度”这番话发表的时机也非比寻常。有消息说,关于劳教制度,公安部之前曾经承诺,在年内拿出一整套取消劳教的“渐进方案”,原计划从明年一月开始,在两年的“内部掌握的过渡期”最后清理劳动教养问题。然而,上周末,中办突发指示:“不要过渡期,今年内必须停止。”

那麽,是什么使这个计划突然提前了呢?在时间上,我们确实看到了这样一种巧合,就是这番话发表在习近平南巡之后,江泽民抵制“习八条”、“南周”和“炎黄春秋”关于宪政的言论被删改和封杀之后。这一组时间上的巧合也确实耐人寻味。萧茗。

萧茗:谢谢雪莉。对于“停止使用劳教制度”这件事的解读,我们再来听一下横河先生的看法。

萧茗:之前有报导说呢,公安部他原本是打算年内拿出一个方案,然后两年之内清理劳教问题,但是后来呢,这个方案就突然就被要求提前了,所以才有孟建柱突然宣布今年停止使用劳教制度,那这条消息是被中共的官媒广泛的报导,但是很快又被拿下,那您觉得是一个整个的过程中,出现的这种比如说提前哪然后又反复呀!这是到底是怎么回事呢?

横河:是这样的,公安部呢他准备一个两年的方案,这是相对来说比较正常的,因为劳教制度本身并不是一个,严格的说不是一个法律,是公安部门打给国务院的一个报告国务院批准了,是一个试行办法,所以由公安部出面来再打一个报告,国务院批准说停止使用,这是最正常的。但是呢公安部本身就是取消劳教制度,废除劳教制度最大的障碍,所以等不到公安部两年以后的事情,那现在呢是从去年 18大之前呢出了两大事件,一个呢就是重庆的村官任建宇,另外一个呢就是湖南的那个唐慧。

这两起劳教事件呢,引起了全国非常非常大的反应,从司法界和普通民众都非常愤怒,那么再加上今年呢,突然之间又出了一个,马三家劳教所的这个求援信,在国际上引起轩然大波,那么这几件事情呢,我觉得导致习近平必须快速做出一个决策来,就是说原计划是两年的,现在马上就宣布,这样的话呢可以在某种程度上,挽回一下个新政权的面子,尽管说有些事情是旧政权留下来的,但是现在 你在位置上,人家就要拿你是问,就要把责任由你来承担,所以呢我觉得他是在快速的去想调整一下,把这个事情提出来。

那么刚开始的时候呢,提出来是停止使用,这和废除其实是差别非常大的,废除至少有一个就是表明,这个制度本身是不合理的,或者是坏的,有带贬意。而停止使用呢,不带贬意,这两者之间的差别呢,就在于要不要承认错误,要不要清算的问题。

萧茗:但是就劳教制度本身来说,大家其实都对劳教制度是很了解的,而且众所周知就是,劳教制度它是公然违反宪法的,中国宪法的。所以说现在大家都在说习近平,他是不是在做一个宪政梦,如果他要做宪政梦的话,他就没有办法绕过这个劳教制度,所以现在的问题就是,你觉得习近平是不是真的在做一个宪政梦,他的宪政梦的具体内容是什么?

横河:这个我倒不觉得他真的是在做一个宪政梦,所谓宪政的话,实际上从1百多年前,清朝末期的时候,大家就在做这个宪政梦,那么这个宪政呢,其实和现在习近平所提出来的一整套的方式,一整套的所谓政治体制改革的这个方案来说的话,我觉得还谈不上是宪政,因为到目前为止,它提出来的所谓十八条啊,或者是以前依法治国啊,这些具体的一些作法呢,其实往往还是限制在一个行政体制改革方面,也就是说是完全是在,你像习八条事件就是一个廉政建设,它并没有触动到最基本的制度,更不要说是这个所谓开放党禁、报禁啊、信仰自由啊,更谈不上这些东西,那么实际上是局限在一个范围,到目前为止,像反腐啊它都是属于这种行政方面的,一些小打小道的这一类东西,所以我不能肯定的说,它的宪政目是什么,但是至少它现在的行动,和人们所期待的所谓宪政,是差距是有相当差距,但是它不管怎么样它提到了宪政,然后它提到了一个宪法的基础地位,如果是这样的话,在加上它之前说的这个,劳教制度要被停止,就是说如果它真的要想在司法公正这个层面,做一些什么事情的话,你觉得除了废止,就是除了停止这个劳教制度之外,还应该包括什么呢?

这包括的事情非常多,第一个就是应该解散政法委,让司法相对的从中国共产党的控制下独立出去,就是司法独立这是第一位。第二呢在立法当中,恶法必须取消。
你像什么73条,就是刑诉法的73条,就是说把这个强制失踪变合法化,像这一种的恶法必须取消。

另外呢就是,法外的惩罚系统全部要取消,你除了这个劳教所以外,还有黑监狱,还有什么洗脑班,这些都要取消。

那就劳教制度本身而言,我觉得当务之急,现在劳教所里面关的绝大部分都是良心犯,而不是说真正的罪犯,所以曾经有过统计说是,法轮功学员就占了一半。那么还有什么家庭教会成员啊,一些维权人士啊。首先就要把这些良心犯,没有违法的所有的人要释放。释放出去以后呢,你要国家赔偿。

另外呢,还有一个呢,就是在因为它是一个非法之法,非法的一个规章,那么在这个执法的过程,在执行的过程当中,就有很多人是这样子违法的,包括从上层到下层,那么这个呢既然是违法的,你要法制,你就必须把这些人,用现有的中国法律,我们还不讲是国际法,也不讲是人权条约。就是说,用现有的法律体系,来追究他们的刑事责任,那么至少要先做到这几点,然后我们才能谈,你能不能对司法体制进行改革,就是对现有的,违法的执法,执法当中违法的人,进行惩罚,对打错了的人国家赔偿。

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萧茗:我们在节目开始的时候说过,习近平对中国现状的真实判断,以及基于这个判断之上的他对自己的定位,是今后探讨中国问题时我们需要考虑的前提。那麽,从最近发生的这些事情中,我们是否可以管窥到习近平的真实想法呢?下面我们就来和两位评论员探讨这个问题。

萧茗:虽然这个问题是最后提出来的,但是我想您在回答前面,具体的问题的时候,应该也是建立在对这个问题的,一个基本的看法之上,所以呢我首先就是想问的就是,您认为习近平对中国现状的一个真实的判断是什么?他是不是认为,中共通过改良还可以走过这场危机?

横河:从这个中共高层领导来说的话,其实他们的信息量,比起我们所知道的,所想像的要多得多。对于中共目前所面临的危机,中共高层领导要比一般的民众知道的要多得多,这就是为什么在很多高层会议上,提出来的危机:亡党、亡国,而有很多基层的民众还没有看到这一点,事实上他们知道共产党面临的危机,是他们统治以来最严重的,而且说很难有解的,但是呢习近平他将面临的问题是有几个。

他有几个选择,一个呢就是彻底的改,就是像当年国民党在台湾那样子,那么最终国民党通过那样子的改,就是说走向宪政,然后呢走向民主自由,最终他们被选上去了,可是又被选回去了,就是说它被保留下来了,这是一种。像缅甸现在它走的也是类似的路。

那另外一种呢,就是说保留现有的体制不变,也就是说你刚才说的改良的路,那么习近平目前的作法,就是说共产党跟别的党不一样就是,它欠下的债实在太多,就是说它本身已经是,已经没有办法救了,在这种情况下呢,如果说就像一个病得快死的病人,非得用非常重的药,要 重药了,因为他已经快死了,再下重药他可能立刻就死了。

中共现在面临的就是这么一个问题,

萧茗:那你认为习近平呢?他是打算进行小救小补,还是他打算就是大动干戈呢?

横河:现在看来他的是不是小救小补,是中救中补,但是呢他不会大动干戈,大动干戈的话呢,牵涉到多方面的问题,就是说包括中共整个领导阶层,整个统治阶层是不会同意的,因为他们都在这条船上,他们还继续的想,在这条船上掠夺更多的东西,因此呢就是说,大动不是说小动不小动的问题,而是中等的动,小动呢其实大家已经看到了,小救小补是没有用的,所以他可能会在稍微大一点的这个层次上,选一些特别名分大的,而且呢纠正起来又不动,真正不对统治集团伤筋动骨的一些项目上,可能会大动一下,那么但是呢,他只是具体的项目的大动,我认为习近平将来可能在,目前可以看见的将来,所走的可能是这条路,

萧茗:不同人对中国社会现状和中共通过改革是否能再次度过危机有不同的看法。其实,中国现在的情况确实非常复杂,如果从不同的角度,从各方实力的角度,从人心向背的角度,从实施难易的角度,从操作可能性的角度出发,可能都会得出不尽相同的结论。但是,换一种思维看,这件事又变得非常简单。因为天道大于任何人间的规律。善恶有报就是天道。中共在历史上犯下了滔天的罪行,直到现在还在继续迫害着法轮功修炼者。它早已经失去了上天曾经给予它的挽回的机会,解体是它面临的必然。但是中共的解体,并不意味着中共内部的所有成员都没有希望了。上至国家主席,下至普通官员,在这个历史的关键时刻,谁能面对真相,顺应民心,善用权力为民众做好事,作出正确的选择,那才是真正的识实务者。同时,他的作为神也会看到。

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“Southern Weekend Magazine”, “Labor Camp" and Xi Jinping’s Self-positioning

Narrator: Shortly after 2013 began, several startling events took place in the Chinese political arena and within Chinese society. The first event took place on January 3, when Southern Weekend magazine’s New Year message was revised by Tuo Zhen, the Guangdong Province propaganda minister. This immediately caused an uproar. Afterward the Yanhuang Chunqiu magazine website was shut down by authorities. On January 5, some personnel changes took place in Sichuan Province. The former governor of Sichuan Province, Jiang Jufeng, resigned, and Deputy Governor Wei Hong succeeded him as acting governor. On January 7, the government’s official media reported that Meng Jianzhu, the Secretary of the Central Politics and Law Committee, announced that China would end its re-education through labor system in 2013. However, this statement was immediately removed.

Simone Gao: This series of conflicts between government officials and the Chinese people coupled with unusual personnel changes is undoubtedly a reflection of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) top level leaders’ power struggles, which didn’t end after the 18th National Congress, as well as the intensifying conflicts within Chinese society. This is not at all surprising. However, the current time period is a bit special. Xi Jinping took office less than two months ago. His veil of mystery has not been completely lifted. When a new Chinese leader comes into power, Westerners usually speculate on this leader’s inner world. The inner world refers to this new leader’s judgment regarding China’s status quo, his self-positioning based on his judgment, and his administration’s policy direction. By understanding all these, the people are able to understand the starting point of his policies. Several events that recently occurred are an opportunity for the world to have a glimpse of Xi Jinping’s inner world. Talking from another perspective, this is also an opportunity to test him. Xi Jinping’s self-positioning, his political ambitions, his position in this political game played by the CCP’s top officials and the real China he faces are the topics, which we will continuously explore in the future. Today, let’s start our discussions on recent major events.

Subtitle: Southern Weekly protests; Yanhuang Chunqiu is shut down

Narrator: On January 3, Southern Weekend magazine website’s micro-blog published a message presumably written by the magazine’s editorial department. The message pointed out that the New Year message on Southern Weekend recent issue was not approved by the magazine’s editors. The New Year message was titled We are Closer to Our Dream than Ever Before. This quickly became a news flash. News soon spread indicating that the Southern Weekend magazine New Year message’s drafting process had always been subject to interference from the CCP’s Guangdong Provincial Party Committee Propaganda Department. The New Year message’s final version, which was approved by the editors, fell foul of the censors. As a result, the magazine had to withdraw the final draft. The New Year message that was eventually published was written by Tuo Zhen, the Guangdong Provincial Party Committee Propaganda Minister.

The original New Year message was allegedly titled ‘Chinese Dream, Constitutional Dream’, echoing Xi Jinping’s recently mentioned “Chinese dream". The article pointed out the need for constitutional reform in China and wished that China embark on a constitutional path. However, the message was changed by Tuo Zhen into a flattering article singing the Party’s praises.

On January 4, Southern Weekend magazine’s former employees jointly signed an open letter to demand the resignation of Tuo Zhen, the Guangdong Provincial Party Committee Propaganda Minister. They said Tuo Zhen’s misdeed was “crossing the line", “without authorization" and “ignorant".

On January 6, Southern Weekend magazine’s official micro-blog issued an open letter titled To Our Readers. The letter stated that the New Year message published on the January 3 New Year special issue was written by the magazine’s editorial department, in accord with the featured topic “Dream Chasing”. It said that the special issue’s introduction was drafted by a magazine director, and all the online rumors were false.

However, immediately afterwards, a joint statement signed by more than a dozen people claiming to be the entire editorial staff of Southern Weekend’s economic affairs department was issued. It read, “Urgent! After one day of being hacked, Southern Weekend’s official micro-blog crashed! The declaration made earlier does not represent Southern Weekend magazine’s editorial staff. It was the result of the magazine’s management being pressured by the authorities.”

On January 7, a number of media reported that the previously silent Central Propaganda Department issued a notice to strongly support Guangdong’s propaganda official, Tuo Zhen. The Propaganda Department classified the incident as severe. It also conveyed three points to its subordinate departments: first, the communist Party’s control over the media is the unshakable fundamental principle; second, Southern Weekend’s publication incident has nothing to do with Tuo Zhen; third, some Simone Gaoile foreign forces had intervened in this incident. The Central Propaganda Department also urged all media to publish the CCP-controlled Global Times’ editorial criticizing Southern Weekend. The editorial was titled Southern Weekend Magazine’s To Our Readers Article is Indeed thought-provoking.

However, on January 8, people discovered that many mainland Chinese media outlets had not published the Global Times editorial. Some media companies even openly boycotted it. It was said that The Beijing News didn’t want to reprint the Global Times editorial. The newspaper’s president even responded coldly to Beijing’s propaganda minister and mentioned he would resign in protest. The Southern Weekend incident continued to develop. On January 7 and 8, people spontaneously went to the magazine’s headquarters to present bouquets of flowers in support of the magazine. They also made various protest slogans to display at the scene. The crowd demanded freedom of the press. According to some witnesses, 300 to 400 people were at the scene. Chinese people from all walks of life, including students, academics, lawyers and even overseas Chinese, expressed their support for the magazine, one after another.

It is worth noting that except for the Global Times, which is directly controlled by the Central Propaganda Department, several other major CCP mouthpieces, including the People’s Daily, Xinhua News Agency and CCTV, haven’t expressed their stance on the Southern Weekend incident. People’s Daily has also recently published some comments, calling for the people in charge of the CCP’s various “propaganda fronts” to “follow the central government’s pace and to conform to the era’s rhythm, as well as to “advance with the times”. Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper quoted political scientist Wu Jiaxiang, who was the CCP Central Committee’s think tank during the Zhao Ziyang era, as saying, “The CCP government’s two conflicting ways to handle the Southern Weekend incident reflects the fact that there are actually two operating central governments.” Some political scientists pointed out that the People’s Daily can be seen as the mouthpiece of the CCP’s General Secretary, Xi Jinping. People’s Daily’s comments are critical of the Guangdong Provincial Party Committee propaganda Department.

On January 8, Reuters quoted sources close to the CCP’s Guangdong Provincial Committee as saying that the Guangdong Provincial Party Committee Secretary Hu Chunhua personally intervened in the current impasse to provide solutions. According to his proposed solutions, the newspaper staff should end their strike and resume working; the newspaper should be published as usual; the people involved in the incident won’t be punished or retaliated against afterwards. Huang Can, the newspaper’s editor and Tuo Zhen the Guangdong Provincial Party Committee Propaganda Minister will be both replaced. However, in order to save the government’s face, Tuo Zhen will not immediately leave his post. On January 10, the new issue of Southern Weekend was published as scheduled.

Almost simultaneously, on January 4, well-known mainland magazine Yanhuang Chunqiu’s website was shut down. Yanhuang Chunqiu monthly magazine was founded by some CCP elders, authors and academics, and is viewed as reformist. The magazine often publishes commentaries on sensitive events regarding the Communist Party’s history. Occasionally its articles make conclusions on historical events which differ from the CCP’s official conclusions, and its articles frequently advocate various reforms within the Party. Because of this, the magazine has attracted people’s attention. In early January 2013, Yanhuang Chunqiu’s website published a New Year message titled The Constitution is Consensus of Political Reforms, which was very similar to Southern Weekend’s New Year message about the constitutional dream. On January 4, the website was shut down, and still remains closed.

Simone Gao: The Southern Weekend incident continues to develop. Today, its influence has expanded to all walks of Chinese society as well as overseas. There has been support from all Chinese social strata. The people have now formed a chorus, calling for freedom of the press. So, how will the event develop next? Can the way the Southern Weekly incident was handled reflect Xi Jinping’s political reform direction, if any? Regarding these questions, I interviewed NTDTV’s senior commentator Heng He. Let’s listen to his comments.

Simone Gao: On the Southern weekend issue, the Global Times attitude is indeed different from the attitude of the other CCP’s mouthpiece media outlets. A few days ago, the Xi Jinping-controlled newspaper People’s Daily published a commentary, calling for the people in charge of the CCP’s propaganda fronts across China to follow the central government’s pace, to conform to this era’s rhythm, and to advance with the times. This commentary has been interpreted as a criticism of the Guangdong Provincial Party Committee Propaganda Department. In your opinion, in dealing with the issue of Southern Weekend, how does Xi Jinping grasp the scale of unfolding events?

Heng He: I think this is the case. After coming to power, Xi Jinping now faces two major challenges. That is, the CCP’s gun barrels, on which its political power is based, and their pens (i.e. official direction of public opinion) are both facing great challenges. In terms of the gun barrels, which are the violent suppression (of the dissenting people), he may choose the “re-education through labor” system as the area in which he wants to change the regime’s image.

The other challenge is the Southern Weekend incident, which no one had foreseen. In dealing with this Southern Weekend incident, the CCP’s top leaders don’t think that the government’s propaganda departments’ control of the Chinese media is the problem, because the CCP has always been in control of the media. The CCP leaders think that the propaganda departments’ way of controlling the media is problematic. In the past, these government agencies had always remained behind the scenes. However, this time they have gone out onto the stage, which may have infuriated the people. To Xi Jinping, this is a very important area. He must face it and handle it, it is unavoidable.

So, I think that the article published by People’s Daily did not actually say that the propaganda departments’ control of the media is wrong. It just said that the departments’ method of media control should not bring troubles to the central government. Therefore, from this perspective, I think that they will likely use more concealed methods or avoid being detected by people in the future. This is not to say that the propaganda departments will cease their control of the media.

Simone Gao: The outside world is very concerned about the way the CCP regime handles the Southern Weekend incident. Can Xi Jinping’s way of handling this issue reflect the direction of his political reforms (if any)? According to your statements, in fact, this is just a change in form but not in content. Do you feel it is possible that to a certain extent, the way Xi Jinping approaches this incident can reflect his direction of political reform?

Heng He: I think that the handling of the Southern Weekend incident is still the model of his crisis response. That is, Xi Jinping did not touch upon the fundamentals of the propaganda departments. All he tried to do is, that under these circumstances, how to save the entire government propaganda system’s face, including the government propaganda departments’ unswerving alignment with the CCP’s propaganda, while making the Southern Weekend employees compromise. Another issue is calming down people’s agitation. Since all these are actually done at an operational level, I collectively call them a crisis response. Does this reflect his so-called political reforms, or how to go down the path of the political reforms? I don’t think this can be easily reflected by this method of handling a crisis.

Simone Gao: A few days after the Southern Weekend reporting event happened, another surprising piece of news came out of Beijing. Secretary Meng Jianzhu of the Central Politico-Legal Committee suddenly announced: “China will stop the forced labor camp system by the year’s end” during the TV and Telephone Meeting on China Political-Legal Work. But, this news lasted only one day after being reported by all CCP official media, and then it was taken off. Let’s ask Xueli to brief us on some actual facts.

Xueli: OK, Xiaoming. On January 7, many Chinese official media reported that Secretary Meng Jianzhu suggested further changes to forced labor camps, legal complaints by letters or visits, legal power carrying mechanisms, registered permanent residence system in the China Politico-Legal Meeting. The “Four Changes” were determined as the 2013 work emphasis. During the meeting, Meng Jianzhu also announced that the central government had studied and got approval from the standing committee of the Chinese People’s Congress that the forced labor camp system would be stopped by the year’s end.

From past webpage reporting on nandu.com, we can see that the news reporting included CCP official media such as “xinhua.net” and “central government TV news.”

However, a day later, CCP media deleted its reporting on Meng Jianzhu’s “China will stop forced labor camp system by the year end,” and only “Deepen Four Changes” contents were left. “Stop forced labor camp system by year end” only appears on webpages which do not contain much official news as their central news. For example, qq.com, nandu.com, ifeng.com, and xinhua English tweeter pages still kept reporting it.

The Chinese forced labor camp system is notorious, and has been widely denounced by several researchers. Professor Hu Xinduo, China famous researcher on people’s life problems and an economy professor at Beijing Institute of Technology, mailed a 2,300-word letter suggesting legal system changes on “stop forced labor camp system” to the standing committee of China People’s Congress and the State Council by express mail. The letter was signed by 69 famous specialists and researchers.

Interestingly, during the capital 30th year celebration meeting of China Constitution announcement and enforcement that day, Xi Jingping said: “The importance of the Constitution depends on enforcement. The power of the Constitution also depends on enforcement. We need to continuously enforce the Constitution, and deepen the enforcement of the Constitution to a new level.” He emphasized: “We should govern by law, and govern by law to be in power.” Obviously, the forced labor camp system contradicts the Constitution in the CCP’s own legal system. If Xi Jingping truly had a dream to have a constitutional government, he could not get around the forced labor camp system.

At the same time, we also see that the timing of Meng Jianzhu’s “stop forced labor camp system by year end” is extraordinary. News came that the Ministry of Public Security had previously promised to produce a set of “gradual plans” in order to eliminate forced labor camp system by year’s end. The previous plan was to begin in January next year, and clear out forced labor camp problems within the two year “interim period with internal rules.” But suddenly last weekend, the central office directed: “We do not want an interim period. The system must be stopped by year’s end.”

Then, what caused the plan to change ahead of schedule? We can see a coincidence in timing. The reporting was published after Xi Jingping’s southern tour. Jiang Zheming resisted “Xi’s eight stipulations,” and the Southern Weekend’s and yhcqw.com’s reporting on constitutional government were deleted then. The timing was really interesting and raised a lot of curiosity. Xiaoming.

Simone Gao: Thank you, Xueli. Let’s listen to Huanhe’s comments on reading into “stop forced labor camp system.”

Simone Gao: Previously, there were reports saying that the Ministry of Public Security originally intended to come up with a plan in 2013 to remove the “reeducation through labor” system, and to clean up the labor camp issue within two years. However, the plan was later suddenly requested to be completed ahead of schedule. Therefore, the CCP’s Central Politics and Law Commission Secretary, Meng Jianzhu made the announcement to stop the use of the re-education through labor system in 2013. This piece of news was first widely reported by the CCP’s official media, but it was quickly removed from it’s media’s websites. In your opinion, throughout the entire process, why was the plan due date moved up, and why was the process then reversed? What happened in the end?

Heng He: It is relatively normal for the Ministry of Public Security to prepare a two-year program (to get rid of the labor camps), because the reeducation through labor system is not, strictly speaking, legal. It was a report submitted by the Public Security Department to the State Council. The proposal was approved by the State Council, so it became a trial implementation. So, it is most appropriate for the Ministry of Public Security to submit another report to be approved by the State Council to halt the use of this system. However, the Ministry of Public Security itself is the largest obstacle standing in the way of abolishing the re-education through labor system. So, before the Ministry of Public Security’s two-year deadline comes due and before the CCP’s 18th National Congress took place in late 2012, two major events regarding re-education through labor erupted. One case involved the Chongqing village official Ren Jianyu, and the other involved Hunan resident, Tang Hui.

Speaking of these re-education through labor incidents, both have evoked large repercussions across China. From the judiciary system to the average Chinese, many people were infuriated. Then suddenly in early 2013, a letter from the notorious Masanjia Labor Camp pleading for help caused an uproar in the international community. I think that these events prompted Xi Jinping to make a quick decision. The original plan was to be completed in two years. However, the new plan was immediately announced, thus to a certain degree, attempting to restore the face of Xi’s new regime. Even though some issues were left behind by the old regime, since now you are in the top position, people will call you into account and make you bear responsibility. So I think that Xi wanted to quickly make adjustments and to talk about this (i.e. the abolishment of the re-education through labor system). In the beginning, it was proposed to stop using the system, which is in fact, very different from repealing the system. Repealing it would at least show that the system itself is unreasonable or wicked, and it has derogatory implications. However, if the system simply stops being used, there is no derogatory sense to it. So, the difference between both terms is whether or not to admit the regime’s mistakes and to settle the accounts.

Simone Gao: Talking about the re-education through labor system itself, nearly all Chinese people know about the CCP’s re-education through labor system, and it is well known that this system is a blatant violation of the Chinese Constitution. Now everyone is discussing whether Xi Jinping is having a constitutional dream. However, if he wants to have a constitutional dream, there is no way for him to bypass the issue of the labor camp system. Now the question is, do you think that Xi is really having a constitutional dream? If so, what is the specific content of his constitutional dream?

Heng He: I don’t think that he is really having a constitutional dream. In fact, more than 100 years ago, near the end of the Qing Dynasty, people were having this constitutional dream. The constitutional government put forward by Xi Jinping and his entire set of so-called political reforms, in my opinion, are not really a constitutional government. This is because, so far, the specific practices proposed by Xi Jinping, such as the so-called Xi’s “Eight New Articles” or the rule of law mentioned in the past, are in fact still within the limits of the administrative system reform. For example, the eight new articles are actually about the construction of a clean government. They don’t touch the most fundamental system, not to mention the so-called lifting the ban on political parties, lifting the ban on newspapers or granting freedom of belief, etc. Then, all the new practices are actually confined to a certain range. So far, the policies, such as anti-corruption, all belong to the administrative aspect. They are things carried out on a small scale. Therefore, I cannot say for sure what Xi’s constitutional purpose is about. However, at least, there is a considerable gap between his current actions and what the people are looking for in a so-called constitutional government.

Simone Gao: However, in any case, Xi mentioned the constitutional government. Then he mentioned the foundational status of the constitution. Combined with the prior news of the possible repeal of the reeducation through labor system, if he really wants to do something in the area of judicial fairness, besides halting the use of the re-education through labor system, what else should be done?

Heng He: Many things can be done. The first is to dissolve the Politics and Law Commission, so that the judiciary can be independent from the CCP’s control. Therefore, judiciary independence should be the priority. Second, in terms of legislation, immoral laws must be removed. For example, Article 73 of the Criminal Code legalizes the forced disappearances. Such an immoral law must be removed. In addition, all extrajudicial punishment systems should be abolished. Besides the labor camps, there are the black jails (i.e. illegal prisons) and the brainwashing centers, which should all be abolished. Talking about the reeducation through labor system per se, I think the most urgent task is to free the prisoners of conscience in the labor camps. Inside these camps, the vast majority of inmates are prisoners of conscience, they are not criminals. Some past statistics state that Falun Gong practitioners accounted for half of the camp inmates. There are also house church members and some human rights activists. First, you need to release these prisoners of conscience who have never violated the law. After they are released, the state also needs to compensate them, since it is after all, an illegal law, an illegal regulation.

Then, during the “law enforcement process”, many people violated the real laws. These violaters range from people in the upper government levels to the lower levels. Since what they did is illegal, and you want to implement the rule of law, you have to punish these people with existing Chinese law. And we are not even speaking of international laws, or human rights treaties. That is, they should use the existing legal system to investigate and hold the lawbreakers liable for their crimes. At least they should achieve these issues. And then we can talk about whether they can reform the judicial system or not. They have to punish the people that violate the law during the law enforcement process. Also, the state must compensate the people that have been wronged.

Simone Gao: At the beginning of this program we said, Xi Jingping’s true judgment on China’s current situation and how he positions himself based on his judgment are the consideration precondition in our discussion of China Issues. Then, considering what happened recently, can we get some hints on Xi Jingping’s true thinking? Let’s discuss this question with two critics.

Simone Gao: Although this problem is raised now, I think that in answering the others’ questions I asked previously, you should base your views on the answer to this question. Therefore, I would like to ask, in your opinion, what is Xi Jinping’s judgment on China’s current situation? Does he believe that the CCP can survive this crisis through implementing reforms?

Heng He: The CCP’s top leaders’ extent of information is, in fact, much larger than what we know or imagine. The CCP leadership knows much more about the intricacies of the crisis the Party currently faces than the general public. That is why during many high-level meetings, the crisis is brought up: death of the Party and the demise of the nation. Many people at the grass-roots level haven’t seen this yet. In fact, the top leaders know the depth of the crisis the CCP faces. It is the most critical one they’ve faced since they started ruling China. It can also be said that the crisis is impossible to resolve. Xi Jinping will face several problems.

He has several options. One is to completely change, just like the Kuomintang did in Taiwan. In the end, the Kuomintang changed and embarked on the path of constitutionalism, and then it moved towards democracy and freedom. Ultimately, they were elected by the people but were later voted out. This political party continued to this day. This is one option. Myanmar now is following a similar path.

Another option is to keep the existing system unchanged, which is the reform approach that you just mentioned. The CCP is different from the other political parties, because it has too much debt. That is, there is no way to save it. Under these circumstances, just like a gravely ill patient on the verge of dying, you have to administer heavy doses of medicine. However, since he is dying, administering heavy doses may immediately kill him. The CCP is now facing this problem.

Simone Gao: What do you think Xi Jinping will do? Does he intend to carry out minor repairs or large changes?

Heng He: It seems that he is not carrying out minor repairs, but medium repairs. However, he will not implement any large changes. If he carries out large changes, it will involve many issues. The CCP’s entire leadership and the entire ruling class will not agree to it. This is because they are all in the same boat, and they want to continue plundering more wealth from the boat. Therefore, he will not carry out large changes or small moves, but medium changes. Everyone has seen that small repairs are not effective at all. Therefore, he may select cases that have roused many people’s anger on a slightly larger scale, but when correcting these problems he will ensure that the reigning elite’s interests will not be touched. However, Xi Jinping will just carry out large changes on specific projects. In my opinion, Xi Jinping may pursue this route in the foreseeable future.

Simone Gao: People have differing opinions on whether CCP can pass its crisis through change. In fact, China’s situation is really complicated. Looking at from different angles, from the angle of various power, from the angle of mass public disapproval, from the angle of difficulty of execution, from the angle of operational feasibility, we can reach various conclusions. But, if we think about it in a different way, the whole situation can become very simple and easy because natural law is above all human laws. That good deeds will be rewarded and bad deeds will be punished is natural law. The CCP has committed numerous crimes in its history. Until today, it still continues its persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. Long ago, it lost the opportunity God offered it. Dissolving it is inevitable, unavoidable, and something it must face. But, dissolving the CCP does not mean that there is no hope for its members. From the national Chairman to a low ranking official, at this historically critical moment, whoever can face the truth, follow the people’s hope, do the right thing for the public, and make the right decisions, is the person who really knows and is following the public’s interests. His deeds are being observed and will be seen by God.

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