CPC Candidates Rejected
- The following article appeared on page A18 of the wednesday 5 March 2003
edition of The Arizona Republic and is credited to John Pomfret of the
Washington Post. I don't know whether this signifies a proletarian revolt
against the persistent betrayal of socialism by the Communist Party of
China or a dissatisfaction by reactionary forces at the slow pace of
pro-imperialist change, but it is certainly an interesting development.
CHINA'S COMMUNIST PARTY SPURNED IN LOCAL ELECTIONS
Provincial Political Defiance Has Beijing Leaders On Edge
Fushun, China--In early January, local delegates gathered for an annual
meeting in this heartland city with expectations that, as usual, they would
rubber-stamp the candidates chosen by the Communist Party to run the
provincial Legislature and the government.
The result was far different. Only one of the five officially sanctioned
candidates won election to the leadership of Fushun's Legislature. Upstart
candidates nominated directly from the floor captured the other four slots.
Even more surprising, delegates rejected one candidate for a top provincial
post, leaving an embarassing vacancy in senior government ranks.
Such acts of legislative defiance, unheard of in more than 50 years of
Communist rule, have been repeated in several provinces this year.
With the opening today of the National People's Congress, China's
lawmaking assembly, this has sparked concern that challenges to Communist
Party control of local legislatures may spread.
Party leaders in Beijing are so worried about the threat of creeping
democracy that they have conducted a series of meetings to ensure that
the 2,984 delegates to this year's Congress stick to tightly scripted
voting requirements, government sources said.
It is particularly important this year because during the two-week
session, the National People's Congress will elect a new president to
replace Jiang Zemin. The new party general secretary, Hu Jintao, is the
designee. The Congress will also choose a prime minister, expected to be
Wen Jiabao, to replace Zhu Rongji, and a new Cabinet. Li Zhaoxing, a
former ambassador to the United States, is tabbed to become foreign
minister. Any divergence from official nominees, even a low-ranking
ministerial candidate, would be a devastating setback for the party,
which maintains a monopoly on political power.
Here in Fushun, the Communist Party leadership did not acknowledge defeat.
The local state-run newspaper, in fact, declared that the legislative
session had closed victoriously. But in a break of protocol, the newspaper
placed a picture of the skeletal new provincial leadership not on the
front page of its January 13th edition, but in the back, a sign the party
had been humiliated.
It is significant that the cases of political defiance are taking place
in neither the richest nor the poorest parts of the country, but in China's
industrial heartland. In the wealthier parts of the country, along the
coast in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, legislators are intimidated and
tightly controlled. These functionaries are also among the greatest
beneficiaries of China's dynamic economic growth and have less interest in
In China's poorer regions, delegates fear losing their jobs if they defy
the party, a move that could land them back on the farm and dirt poor.
So it is in middling parts of the country--Hunan, in China's central plains;
Liaoning, in the Manchurian industrial zone; and Hebei and Sichuan,
China's two most populous provinces--that change, however small, is being
Fushun, in Liaoning, is a mining and steel city, once the pride of China's
working class and famed for its favorite son, Lei Feng. Lei, who died here
in 1963, has since been hailed as the model Communist worker and soldier
in a political campaign, Study Lei Feng!, that continues today. These days,
Fushun is a decayed shell. Government officials estimate that more than a
third of the city's workforce of 800,000 is unemployed. State-owned
factories have not hired new employees since 1996.
"The only thing left in Fushun are complaints and anger," a member of the
local Legislature said. "We have to do something."
Recently across China, however, local legislatures are showing independence.
On January 1st, in Yueyang, a city of 5.3 million people in Hunan province,
legislators voted to expell Mayor Luo Bisheng, the first act of its kind
since the 1949 revolution. Luo was the only candidate.
The mayor had angered local residents by placing a pedestrian walkway in
the middle of town, resulting in traffic jams. They also blamed him for
an ill-fated scheme to force farmers to grow watermelons.
Delegates were called back two days after the first ballot and were told
to vote again. Once more, Mayor Luo stood unopposed. That move
constituted a clear violation of Chinese law, which stipulates that
defeated candidates should be replaced, party officials in Beijing said.
Luo won anyway. "Maybe people had a change of heart," the mayor quipped.
- Dear Eric,
Thank you for your analysis of this phenomenon.
In 1989 I took the unpopular position that the
uprising in Tiananmen Square objectively aided
imperialism and that the People's Liberation Army
was correct to suppress it. Given the situation
at the time, I stand by that view. This does
not mean, as some supposed, that I supported
everything the CPC was doing or believed it should
be immune from criticism within the framework of
Now that the leadership of the CPC has allowed
imperialism to make increasingly blatant
inroads to the Chinese economy, I believe there
must be some kind of resistance. Still it must
be of a firmly and clearly socialist
character, and voting out corrupt CPC bureaucrats
to replace them with liberal demagogues will be
>The motivation for this "uprising" is most likely
>bureaucratism and possibly corruption of the
>"official" candidates. Both are rampant and would
>elicit legitimat discontent from the masses.
>The problem is that if that legitimate discontent is
>expressed as a rejection of the Communist Party, it
>will be translated into "support for liberal
>democracy" certainly by the liberal democrats and
>probably by those "independent" candidates as well,
>who will instinctively look for backing from anywhere
>they can get it outside the CP. There's very little
>mental "immunity" to the blandishments of private
>capitalism, even that of "our foreign friends" as they
>are called -- though one can get into deep trouble for
>"spying" which is often understood by the authorities
>in very broad ways.
>Anyhow so unfortunately these guys who may represent
>genuine discontent can not be counted on to morally
>abhoar connections with the Chinese yuppies or their
>corporate dollars (which might originate abroad).
>In sum, I don't view this as positive. If the CP
>doesn't clean up its act and tries to carry on in the
>old bureaucratic commandist way, this phenomenon could
>grow into some anti-communist movement linked to local
>and foreign capital.
>Even if the Chinese CP has been largely "fascist-ised"
>(i.e., moved towards a kind of state bureaucrat
>capitalism) it retains a very large measure of
>national independence politically. The liberals who,
>I fear, lurk just around the corner for those
>independents, are full-fledged globalists.