• Wed
  • Dec 24, 2014
  • Updated: 3:06am
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 June, 2014, 7:17pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 June, 2014, 2:42am

Post June 4, the party has thrived, but so has corruption

Frank Ching laments the Communist Party's failure to rein in corruption, 25 years after a show of public anger against it was brutally crushed


Frank Ching opened The Wall Street Journal’s bureau in Beijing in 1979 when the U.S. and China established diplomatic relations. Before that, he was with The New York Times in New York for 10 years. After Beijing, he wrote the book Ancestors and later joined the Far Eastern Economic Review.

Twenty-five years ago, the world was shocked. Tanks rumbled through the streets of Beijing and shots were fired at students and other civilians who had gathered to protest against inflation and corruption. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, were killed.

Across the world, communism was in retreat. Six months previously, the Soviet Union pledged to withdraw troops from Eastern Europe. In Hungary, the communist party proposed a multiparty political system. In Poland, the newly legalised Solidarity trade union was holding talks with the government, which would lead to elections and a non-communist government. Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia declared themselves independent of the Soviet Union.

The writing was on the wall.

But in China, Communist Party elders led by Deng Xiaoping decided they would not go passively. Deng saw a link between events in China and abroad and decided to suppress what he called a "counter-revolutionary uprising", regardless of the cost in human lives.

A quarter of a century later, Deng's successors feel vindicated. "Why did the Soviet Union disintegrate?" Xi Jinping asked while pondering the collapse of the Soviet party. He concluded: "In the end nobody was a real man, nobody came out to resist" and so "a great party was gone".

Xi, like Deng 25 years ago, is obsessed with the survival of the party and is doing everything possible to ensure that it remains in power indefinitely.

In the 1980s, the party offered a bargain to the people: wealth but not political reform. And the party has delivered. While in 1989 per capita gross domestic product was only US$400 a year, by last year it had increased nearly 17-fold, to US$6,800.

As a result, the Pew Research Centre found, 86 per cent of Chinese in 2008 were satisfied with their country's direction.

The party has also stoked nationalism in the form of a "Chinese dream" of national grandeur. Love of country is being equated to love of the party.

But while the party is undoubtedly pleased with the achievements of the past 25 years, it must find shameful what it did on June 4, 1989. Why else will it not allow those historic events to even be mentioned in public?

What fanned the flames of opposition in 1989 was not so much the desire for democracy as outrage at official corruption. On this score, the party has not done so well. In recent months, many calling for the disclosure of officials' assets have been arrested.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences has reported that more than 18,000 officials fled between 1995 and 2008, taking with them US$145 billion in assets. When even officials don't have confidence in the country's future, what will the common people think?

And why is it that the vast majority of high rollers in casinos around the world come from China? And whose money are they gambling with?

Unless the party can rule justly, it will be difficult for it to argue that it should rule at all.

Frank Ching is a Hong Kong-based writer and commentator. frank.ching@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @FrankChing1


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According to Gregory Clark, a former Australian diplomat, the Tiananmen Massacre was a myth and the lies continues to this day.
A Kuro
See the post by J Cheng.
According to Gregory Clark, a former Australian diplomat, the Tiananmen Massacre was a myth and the lies continues to this day.
From the article by Gregory Clark it seems the truth about Tiananmen in June 4 1989 is more than what we have been told so far by the Western press. The credibility of the Western press is really questionable.
Gregory Clark made the following comments " Other strange details later to emerge included a report that Reuters, the British new agency, refused to publish a photo of a charred corpse strung up under an overpass — a photo that would have done much to explain what had happened. And we now discover that the widely distributed photo of Tankman — the lone student standing before a row of army tanks and heavily publicised as showing brave defiance against a cruel regime — was in fact taken the day after Tiananmen events, and the tanks were moving away from, and not into, Tiananmen Square."
Obviously the truth about Tiananmen is not being told!
"In the end nobody was a real man, nobody came out to resist" and so "a great party was gone". The real answer was that just as during the time of the great leap forward, and the cultural revolution China's elites lacked courage and put their narrow individual interests at the expense of the national good.
From the tone of your complaints here and elsewhere in this publication, you seem to have wealth envy. Of course, China has more quid pro quo corruptions than Hong Kong. So instead of celebrating hundreds of millions prodigious rise out of abysmal poverty, you make corruption in China your most convenient scapegoat for personal failure. Hate passion of a loser is very scary indeed!
If you're a HK resident, allow me to guess that you have little or no accumulated wealth, let alone a successful career when given all opportunities available in this former Crown Colony and today's one country two systems.
With your attitude -- relentlessly demonizing China and its government, you will never get the wealth and status desired because even the most corrupted Chinese won't touch a talentless nobody with a ten-foot pole.
"Deng Xiaoping made the correct decision that saved China."
---what part of which decision "saved" China? Are you suggesting that the way TAM played out was the one and only way for China to end up in its current state?
Indeed, the rededication to opening up the economy started China on its current path. WHat indispensible direct causal role did June 4 have to do with that?
I would agree that the exact sequence of his decisions saved the CCP. But as always, people shouldn't conflate the CCP with China itself.
Hey whymak, still conflating the CCP for CHina itself, I see. For the truly and deeply indoctrinated, old (and wrong) habits die hard.
Let's see about your "logic" here. Now, "so much information (is already) available today". But more information will be " fodders for more media lies"?!? How does that work? Less information is better? The only way that makes any sense at all is if some of this remaining unseen "information" is not so flattering to the CCP...which is the only reason why the CCP won't want to come clean. Think about it (well, try as best as you can to closely approximate the concept), if there was information that vindicates the decisions the CCP made that night, why wouldn't they want to share it? And with the army of apologists they have on hand to "debunk" stuff, what fear do they have that they would lose the narrative, assuming they weren't covering up a colossal ****-up all this time? ONce again, the only people who fear the light are those with something to hide. Not a difficult concept to grasp if you put your mind to it.
You still can't discern the forest for the trees. Yeah, let's call it Chang'an Ave massacre, or maybe just BJ massacre to satisfy wingnuts like you who remain fixated on the precise geography.
At least you're philosophically consistent with the CCP that you worship. Less info is better. Don't let people make up their own minds. It's too bad you aren't on the mainland to enjoy all that the CCP truly has to offer.
With so much information available today, we are pretty sure who the cast of pro and con decision makers were. Obviously, Li Peng called for tough actions and Zhao Ziyang, reconciliations with naïve students who had no other clue about the national crisis -- part of their own making -- except raw passions.

It’s the kind of heated disagreements one expects to see and hear from strong-willed leaders. But we already know this. If Beijing gave a truthful account similar to what I stated in another column, what purpose does it serve except fodders for more media lies? Let the sleeping dog lie for another 2 decades is probably as good decision as any. 平反六四 should have a simple meaning: Stop all lies about student massacre at Tiananmen Square.

I was totally wrong too during 1989. I thought what China did would lead to chaos. With the information I possess now, I am glad Deng Xiaoping’s heroic decision saved the nation. We actually purged the nation of lingering doubts that order and national construction are for real.

If you are not addicted to this ideological opiate – populist rule is the End of History, you’re likely to take so-called Democracy as just another phase of ineluctable rise and fall of all empires. This ubiquitous decline is happening in all democracies even as I speak.

China is on the ascent. China haters can eat your heart out. China rising for how long? Who knows.
I doubt hate China readers could read history in Chinese at 2nd grade level.
Mr. Ching,
平反六四 should mean only one thing: Stop all lies about student massacre at Tiananmen Square, including ones in your ancient columns.
Who is Gregory Clark, and what earth shattering things did he have to say to warrant multiple CCP apologists making repeated references to his article at Japan Times on multiple threads?
Beats me. If you don't feel like reading Clark, I've left a summary on SCMP article 1524848 comment 89936.
3rdView and other readers:
I quoted the same sources like yours about the Tiananmen myth for as long as I remember. Unfortunately, Democracy cultists with their hate China will never accept these facts. One with a US PhD in electrical engineering got really ticked off at me: "If New York Times had numerous columns and articles about the massacre, why should I believe your sources?"
Trying to deprogram SCMP columnists and brainwashed readers out of their self-righteous Democracy faith with freedom, human rights and all that jazz is a hopeless cause.
In 1989, I thought the Beijing government was wrong. After I saw through lies of the press, I owned up my mistake and changed my mind. I was a corporate manager keenly aware of uncertainties confronting decision makers. Deng Xiaoping made the correct decision that saved China. My vantage point has little ideology, so it is easy to admit being wrong. No so for ideological fanatics and hatemongers.
Read my SCMP posting today on:




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