October 10, 2005

Chinese Activist Murdered

Here's the Guardian story about the brutal murder of Lu Banglie, a Chinese democracy activist...

I had only met him that day. He was to show me the way to Taishi, the hotspot of the growing rural uprisings in China. It felt like heading into a war. Taishi is under siege, I was warned. The day I arrived a French radio journalist and a Hong Kong print journalist were rumoured to have been beaten somewhere around Taishi...

....We arrived on the outskirts of Taishi, just as the dirt roads start. There were 30 to 50 men - angry, inebriated, bored men. Most looked like thugs...

...The men outside shouted among themselves and those in uniform suddenly left. Those remaining started pushing on the car, screaming at us to get out. They pointed flashlights at us, and when the light hit Mr Lu's face, it was as if a bomb had gone off. They completely lost it. They pulled him out and bashed him to the ground, kicked him, pulverised him, stomped on his head over and over again. The beating was loud, like the crack of a wooden board, and he was unconscious within 30 seconds.

They continued for 10 minutes. The body of this skinny little man turned to putty between the kicking legs of the rancorous men. This was not about teaching a man a lesson, about scaring me, about preventing access to the village; this was about vengeance - retribution for teaching villagers their legal rights, for agitating, for daring to hide.

They slowed down but never stopped. He lay there - his eye out of its socket, his tongue cut, a stream of blood dropping from his mouth, his body limp, twisted. The ligaments in his neck were broken, so his head lay sideways as if connected to the rest of his body by a rubber band...

Gateway Pundit has a good roundup post on this story, including pictures of some other victims of the protest-oriented violence by government enforcers.

I just finished reading Arthur Waldron's piece in the October Commentary called Mao Lives. Waldron takes on the question of why China has never repudiated Mao, despite his responsibility for the murder of tens of millions of innocent Chinese, and why his reputation in the West has never suffered the same fate as those of his fellow mass murderers Stalin and Hitler.

Do go read it all, but it came to mind in the context of the story of Lu Banglie's murder, because Waldron also tells of the release of a new book that the Chinese government is doing all it can to suppress within China itself. Waldron explains why...

No American textbook of Chinese history classes Mao with Stalin, or with Hitler. Nor has any foreign leader since the 1960’s ever spoken out against the evils of Chinese Communism with anything like the forthrightness showed by some toward the Soviet Union. Today, though Mao’s legacy is still very much in evidence in China, the European Union is eager to end the trade embargo put in place after the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 and to begin selling advanced weapons systems to the Communist regime. Israel has long been a supplier of weaponry to Beijing (though this may be changing). American companies, including Loral, Boeing, and Microsoft, have provided important assistance to China’s military programs and to its suppression of free speech and access to information on the Internet. Although the overwhelming majority of the world’s unfree people live in China, ordinary visitors, cocooned in its luxurious new hotels, are largely unaware of the brutality around them, or, if they are aware, console themselves with the thought that, repressive trends notwithstanding, commerce and trade will eventually transform things for the better.

They need to think again. Luckily, to aid their thinking, they can now turn to Mao: The Unknown Story, a bombshell of a book that quickly soared to first place on the best-seller lists of England and that has recently been released here. Its author is Jung Chang (born in China in 1952), writing in collaboration with her husband Jon Halliday (born in Ireland in 1939). Halliday, an excellent stylist, is proficient in Russian and other languages and was for a brief time the editor of the British New Left Review...

...Mao: The Unknown Story is no ordinary book. Reaching for comparisons, one looks inescapably to Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. His was not the first negative account of Soviet Communism, and Mao is not the first book to present Mao and his collaborators as criminals. But like the Gulag, Mao, while factual, is much more than that; resting on a mass of evidence, overwhelmingly accurate and well-supported, it conveys its story in the voice not of the bloodless scholar but of the novelist and the moralist. Already Beijing is terrified of this book, going so far as to ban an issue of the Far Eastern Economic Review that contained an account of it. But we can be certain that pirated copies will soon be circulating in China, if they are not doing so already. Chang and Halliday may not be the first to expose Mao’s crimes, but their work, even with its limitations (of which more below), cannot be ignored. Like Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, it delivers a death blow to an entire way of thinking.

The point Waldron makes so well near the end of the piece is the same one punctuated by the murder of Lu Banglie. China hasn't ever repudiated the mass murdering career of Mao, and despite outward appearances of modernization and prosperity, it's the same police state that it was under his rule...

Given the bloody morass through which Chang and her husband lead us, it would be comforting in the extreme to know that the evil in Mao died with his body, and that China has been freed from it. But that is emphatically not the case. Mao died in 1976. Thirty years on, there is still no happy ending. To be sure, China has changed—in appearance, feel, atmosphere, economic condition, and so forth. Maoist and post-Maoist China are admittedly very different. But they are also profoundly similar...

...Rule in China is as arbitrary and capricious as ever under Mao. The only difference is that a single man is no longer in total charge; what is theoretically still the absolute power of the party is now divided among perhaps twenty people, all lacking Mao’s intelligence and skill and most working at cross purposes with each other. China is not ruled by its constitution or by its laws, nor do courts actually resolve disputes, even in the realm of commerce with foreign countries.

None of today’s Chinese leaders has been chosen according to the rules of the constitution, or even according to the rules of the Communist party. Hu Jintao is in charge because Deng Xiaoping named him to follow Jiang Zemin, himself selected after the June 4, 1989 massacre to replace Zhao Ziyang, who was illegally removed and placed under strict house arrest (lasting until his death earlier this year). And how did Deng become leader? By means of a military conspiracy that ousted Mao’s designated and party-approved successors.

Like Mao, today’s rulers are hypocrites, proclaiming concern for the poor and disenfranchised even as they steal state assets and live lives of luxury. But now the parasitical class of Chinese Communists is much larger than in Mao’s day, and so is the gap between their lives and the lives of ordinary Chinese, whether rural or urban. While desperate poverty and exploitation remain widespread, party members enjoy a privileged existence comparable only to Mao’s, even as they send their children and grandchildren, along with their ill-gotten assets, overseas for safekeeping...

...Violence continues in today’s China: everyday killings by police and untold numbers of deaths in prisons and camps, the victims rarely named and never officially mourned. Censorship, too, remains very tight, with newspapers, radio, and television owned and operated exclusively by the government and the party. Vast sums have been spent on advanced equipment to read and track Internet traffic and block sites of which the dictators do not approve. Surveillance by closed-circuit television and the tapping of telephones is blanket in Beijing. Overseas, extensive networks of secret police monitor not only dissidents, students, and others but also Internet and telephone traffic in North America and elsewhere. Indoctrination, now stressing xenophobic nationalism rather than Mao’s version of Communism, is still rampant.

Posted by dan at October 10, 2005 11:37 PM