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Calls for parliamentary democracy in China

Posted by Author on May 23, 2009

Mark Colvin, ABC News, Austrilia, 22 May , 2009-

MARK COLVIN: Exactly 20 years ago, Beijing’s central space, Tien An Men Square was still full of protesting students.

On the 19th May, the Communist Party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang had come to the square to plead with them to end their hunger strike.

The next day, military law was declared. On June the 4th the troops went in and what the West remembers as the Tien An Men massacre began.

By then, Zhao Ziyang, the only member of the ruling elite to talk to the students face to face, was under house arrest and had become a non-person.

This is how he remembers what the Chinese authorities prefer to call the June the 4th incident.

ZHAO ZIYANG (translated): On the night of June the 3rd while sitting in the courtyard with my family I heard intense gunfire. A tragedy to shock the world had not been averted and was happening after all.

I prepared the above-written material three years after the June the fourth tragedy. Many years have now passed since this tragedy. Of the activists involved in this incident, except for the few who escaped abroad, most were arrested, sentenced and repeatedly interrogated.

MARK COLVIN: The world was never meant to hear Zhao Ziyang’s voice again. But now, four years after his death comes the publication of his memoirs.

They were compiled from 30 cassette tapes, smuggled out of the country and now published as ‘Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Zhao Ziyang’.

Its publisher and co-translator is Bao Pu, son of a senior aide to Zhao.

He told me on the line from Hong Kong that Zhao Ziyang knew when he spoke to the students in the Square that his career was already over.

BAO PU: When he came out to talk to them he was already disposed from his position and knowing that after trying to prevent the final showdown of violence; and he actually failed to prevent that happening and that was you know his final moment appearing in public.

MARK COLVIN: And the reason why that was his final moment was because he had made the mistake of actually leaving the country in a crisis and that left his enemies in charge.

BAO PU: In this particular memoir he mentions many of his regrets and mistakes. Leaving the country at that moment is not one of them. At the moment that he left there was no reason for him, no obvious reason that he shouldn’t.

MARK COLVIN
: But if he’d stayed, wouldn’t he have been able to keep the ear of Dung Xiaoping? Wouldn’t he have been able to have controlled things better?

BAO PU: Yes it’s possible but you have to say that it’s only speculation – maybe better – and we can’t be sure because history cannot be undone and repeat itself.

MARK COLVIN: So what were the forces ranged against him?

BAO PU: Tien An Men incidents to the Chinese leaders were merely a continuation of their struggle, their debate over economic reform. The new insight on this Tien An Men incident is that as soon as the student protest began, the Chinese leaders were already lined up on two sides.

On one side the favour harsh treatment, on the other are against the harsher treatment.

MARK COLVIN: In the background of all this was the fact that Zhao Ziyang didn’t just want economic reform he wanted political reform. Let’s just have a listen to what he says in the memoir about that.

ZHAO ZIYANG
(translated): Of course it is possible that in the future a more advanced political system than the parliamentary democracy will emerge, but that is a matter for the future. At present, there is no other.

Based on this we can say that if a country wishes to modernise, not only should it implement a market economy, it must also adopt a parliamentary democracy as its political system……. (More  details from ABC News)

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