Wednesday, October 7, 2009

When will Deng Xiaoping's Portrait be Displayed at Tiananmen Square?

When will Deng Xiaoping's Portrait be Displayed at Tiananmen Square?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
October 7, 2009

The Beijing authorities have been preoccupied with a number of major events. The 10/1 celebration and the Beijing Olympics convey very different notions. To the outside world, the synchronized placard displays during the Beijing Olympics hinted at peaceful development. The large scale troop review during the 10/1 celebration meanwhile, contained more than a hint of swagger.

Ideally a major power should promote peace abroad and maintain harmony at home. But prior to the Cold War, major powers used their superior might to exploit or bully smaller or weaker nations. China suffered grievously. From the Opium War of 1840, though the eight year long Japanese invasion, the Chinese people shed oceans of blood and wept rivers of tears. Mainland China's military capability now enables it to "just say no." It has minimized the likelihood of foreign aggression. This is a prerequisite for a major power. Meanwhile the evolution of human civilization makes it difficult to imagine any country ever again becoming a major aggressor. The U.S. invasion of Iraq may be the last instance of a war of aggression by a major power. In other words, instead of committing aggression and engaging in slaughter, the major powers are now forstalling conflict. In this regard, Beijing's "peaceful development" or even "peaceful rise," may constitute a new paradigm for developing nations.

Let's talk about internal harmony. Within a globalized economy, nations that refuse to open themselves up to the rest of the world cannot become major powers. Nations that open themselves up to the outside world inevitably experience an increase in freedom of thought and awareness of civil rights. They can no longer be ruled by totalitarian dictatorships. In other words, for social harmony to prevail inside a major power requires democracy and human rights.

The People's Republic of China established its authority 60 years ago. The development most worth celebrating is the transformation of the Chinese Communist Party from Mao Zedong's Communist Party to Deng Xiaoping's Communist Party. If this were not the case, today's Mainland would be little more than the Peoples Republic of Korea (North Korea) writ large. Internationally, there would be no possibility of "peaceful development." Domestically, Kim Jong-il style measures would be necessary to maintain a semblance of social harmony. Given the peace and prosperity the CCP and China enjoy today, it is not Mao Zedong's portrait that ought to be displayed at Tiananmen Square, but Deng Xiaoping's.

During the 10/1 celebration, Hu Jintao continued to pay lip service to "Marxism" and "Mao Zedong Thought." The CCP "annihilated the Gang of Four" in 1976. It launched a movement to discredit Mao Zedong. It initiated three decades of reform and liberalization. The result? Today's Chinese Communist Party constitutes the largest collection of "capitalist roaders" and "revisionists" the world has ever seen. The problem is that the CCP has essentially repudiated Mao Zedong, but continues to display his portrait in Tiananmen Square. If it publicly criticized Mao, it might undermine the legitimacy of the CCP. The CCP continues to display Mao's portrait, even after it has turned its back on Mao and repudiated him. This gap between theory and practice is a major issue that the CCP must address but has yet to address. Every day the CCP refuses to talk about Mao Zedong's 30 year long debacle, is a day that it delays its own transformation and the transformation of Mainland China.

Sun Yat-sen's portrait can still be seen in Tiananmen Square. It remained on display during this year's 60th anniversary 10/1 celebration. Meanwhile, the portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin are already gone. This says that the CCP hopes to distance itself from Mao Zedong and Communism. Instead, it is attempting to preserve another grander, more open political tradition. Having evaluated their internal and external circumstances, they continue to argue that "Mao's merits outnumber his demerits, seven to three." But this is not a position they can maintain long-term. Mao Zedong is not an appropriate national icon for China, anymore than Adolf Hitler is an appropriate national icon for Germany. If the CCP and Mainland China wish to undergo gradual transformation, they should adopt a gradual strategy for transformation. They should gradually elevate the political status of Deng Xiaoping. They should gradually relieve themselves of the historical baggage of Mao Zedong. This is a viable approach. In fact, Deng Xiaoping and lower level CCP leaders such as Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang liberated themselves from the bonds of Mao Zedong some time ago. If the CCP hopes to transform the party and the nation, it must liberate itself from the bonds of Mao Zedong, in form as well as in substance. This is an inevitable process. Otherwise it will be difficult to undergo rebirth. If the CCP seeks rebirth in an increasingly democratic Chinese society, it must negotiate this passage, sooner if not later. If it cannot repudiate Mao as a national icon, he will forever remain an obstacle to the transformation of the CCP and Mainland China.

The CCP and Mainland China have a long way to go in their transformation. They must gradually rid themselves of old baggage. They must gradually give themselves a makeover. The day Mao Zedong's portrait comes down at Tiananmen Square will be the day the CCP and Mainland China complete their political tranformation.

2009.10.07 03:32 am








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