Century’s End
It’s Glorious to Get Rich ... but Not Without Consequences
"To Serve the People's Currency" (pun on the famous Communist phrase "to serve the people")
Mao coming out of a picture frame with a handfull of cash
Poster showing the line of succession from Mao to Deng to Jiang
The Transition of Power
Mao Zedong ~ Deng Xiaoping ~ Jiang Zemin
Tiananmen portrait of Mao being cleanedDespite Deng Xiaoping’s expressions of confidence, the crisis of 1989 showed that aspects of China’s past were still much in evidence. To take one short-term parallel, the political maneuvering by Deng Xiaoping proved how far the Communist party still was from solving its leadership and succession problems. Deng’s rejection of his two chosen heirs, Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang, and his sudden benediction of the previously little-known Jiang Zemin as party secretary-general was eerily reminiscent of Mao’s attempt to install Hua Guofeng after he had turned against Liu Shaoqi and Lin Biao. In a longer historical context, Deng’s insistence that economic reforms and the dramatic changes they brought should still be kept totally separate from any changes in the political superstructure and modes of public expression reawakened historical memories of the late Qing dream — that China could join the modern world entirely on its own terms, without sacrificing its prevailing ideological purity. Some Chinese even noticed parallels between Deng’s suppression of the Democracy movement in 1989 and the Empress Dowager Cixi’s countercoup in the face of Emperor Guangxu’s ambitious reform program of 1898. (SMC, 666)
 
Deng Xiaoping Billboard: "Comrade Deng Xiao-ping in his South Investigation Tour to Shenzhen" with the additional caption (in Chinese) "If we don't persevere with socialism, don't reform and open up to the outside world, don't develop the economy, don't improve people's lives, -- then we will be on the road to ruin!"
 
Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping, Volume 1During the mid-1990s, Deng Xiaoping’s exact role was an enigma to most political observers. After his 1992 Southern tour, he made no more dramatic public gestures or statements. And the blurred pictures from his 1994 Shanghai visit were the last ones publicly circulated. Deng’s personality cult was fostered in his old age by the government now headed by Jiang Zemin and Li Peng, who made sure that the “works of Deng” were widely disseminated and discussed, and who constantly referred to him as China’s “paramount leader” despite his relinquishment of all formal government posts. But if Deng was paramount leader, it was mainly as an offstage presence, almost beyond speech, hearing, and gesture, whose often enigmatic remarks were filtered through the lips of close family members, especially his daughters and a small group of senior generals. ...
 
Bicyclist riding by a billboard with Mao, Deng and Jiang
 
In the meantime, the leadership of the country seemed to be on hold, even as the frenzied and uncoordinated spate of economic growth and change continued. Premier Li Peng — whose own term of office was due to end in March 1998 — issued a public statement in April 1995 that a transition “from the second-generational central leading collective, with Deng Xiaoping at the core,” was underway “smoothly” and the the “third-generational leading collective, with Comrade Jiang Zemin at the core,” was now in place. ...
 
Jiang Zemin speaking at Deng Xiaoping's memorial service with a huge portrait of Deng in the background
 
Thus when the death of Deng Xiaoping on February 19, 1997, from a lung infection and complications of Parkinson’s disease, was announced to the nation, there was a strange sense of uncertainty as much as loss. The government moved at once to make sure that demonstrators would not use the pretext of mourning Deng to raise major political criticisms of the regime, as they had done so conspicuously on two previous occasions: in April 1976, in the mourning for Zhou Enlai, and in April 1989, in the mourning for Hu Yaobang. ... The muted funeral also served to accentuate a more subtle political point, one that Jiang Zemin was anxious to establish in the nation’s mind: Deng Xiaoping had been on the sidelines for several years, and the de facto transfer of power had been quietly, yet effectively, carried out. (SMC, 684-5)
Mao coming out of a picture frame with a handfull of cash
Fireworks over Hong Kong
 
Back to the Motherland
Hong Kong ~ Macao ~ Taiwan
The timing of Deng’s death ensured Jiang Zemin the freedom to enjoy the limelight at midnight between June 30 and July 1, 1997, when, by the prior 1984 agreement with Great Britain, Hong Kong reverted to Chinese control. As the Union Jack and the former colonial Hong Kong flag were lowered, and the red flag with gold stars of the People’s Republic was raised aloft next to the newly designed red pauonia-blossom flag of the Hong Kong administrative region, Jiang Zemin sat next to Britain’s Prince Charles on the stage of the vast new convention center. ...
 
Hong Kong Turnover: Jiang Zemin shakes hands with Prince Charles on a stage with Chinese and British flags
Cartoon of a Chinese man being freed from a ball and chain (which has an image of a subserviant man and woman)
Map showing locations of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan
 
Looming behind this celebration of the end of foreign control over Hong Kong lay the question of Taiwan. Weeks before the Hong Kong transfer, as a giant clock specially erected in Tiananmen Square counted down the days, hours, and minutes, banners displayed in Peking carried slogans stating that “China was eagerly welcoming the return to the motherland of Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan.” Macao’s return, after more than four and a half centuries of total or partial Portuguese control, was already set for 1999. But the case of Taiwan was infinitely more complex. Even as Chinese authorities were citing pro-Taiwan independence rallies as the kind of demonstrations that would not be tolerated in Hong Kong, any more than those demanding independent rights for the people of Tibet or the Muslim inhabitants of Xinjiang would, the government of President Lee on Taiwan was working with a coalition of rival parties to end the system by which a “provincial government” of Taiwan coexisted with the central Taiwan government. The significance of this change was that the separate provincial government was a throwback to the period of the civil war and the early 1950s, when Taiwan claimed to be merely the temporary base for a Chinese national government in exile. With the abolition of this provincial representation, Taiwan would become, in effect, a completely independent political unit, with no more formal governmental interdependence with the mainland. Thus the Peking government attacked the decision as a dangerous provocation. (SMC, 686-7)
 
Flag of the People's Republic of China
 

Article 2:

There is only one China in the world. Both the mainland and Taiwan belong to one China. China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity brook no division. Safeguarding China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is the common obligation of all Chinese people, the Taiwan compatriots included.
Taiwan is part of China. The state shall never allow the “Taiwan independence” secessionist forces to make Taiwan secede from China under any name or by any means.

Article 5:

Upholding the principle of one China is the basis of peaceful reunification of the country.
To reunify the country through peaceful means best serves the fundamental interests of the compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits. The state shall do its utmost with maximum sincerity to achieve a peaceful reunification.
After the country is reunified peacefully, Taiwan may practice systems different from those on the mainland and enjoy a high degree of autonomy.
 
Is China's claim to Taiwan legitimate?
Icon of a globe with the yin-yang symbol superimposed
Flag of the Republic of China (i.e. Taiwan)
 
  1. Both sides would not “deny each other's existence” in the international community and would renounce the use of force or threats. The mainland should carry out political reforms.
  2. The two sides would set up official communication channels “on equal footing” and help each other participate in international organizations. In return, Taiwan will help develop the mainland's economy and open up the Three Links of communication technology [i.e. postal, transportation and trade].
  3. The two sides will establish an organization to plan the unification of a “democratic, free, and equitably prosperous China.”
 
Can Taiwan continue to maintain its de facto independence
now that Hong Kong and Macau have been reunited with China?

Icon of a globe with the yin-yang symbol superimposed
Flag of the United States of America
 
  1. The United States did not explicitly state the sovereign status of Taiwan in the three US-PRC Joint Communiques of 1972, 1979, and 1982.
  2. The United States “acknowledged” the “One China” position of both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
  3. US policy has not recognized the PRC’s sovereignty over Taiwan;
  4. US policy has not recognized Taiwan as a sovereign country; and
  5. US policy has considered Taiwan’s status as undetermined. U.S. policy has considered Taiwan’s status as unsettled.
 
What role should the U.S. play in the resolution of the China-Taiwan issue?
Icon of a globe with the yin-yang symbol superimposed
A sea of umbrellas in support of Hong Kong's "Umbrella Movement"
 
Will there be consequences for China's failure to abide by the "one country, two systems"
principle that it agreed to in the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984?
Mao coming out of a picture frame with a handfull of cash
Falun Gong Symbol (combining swastikas and yin yang symbols)
 
Falun Gong
Click for video of Falun Dafa persecution
 
The Chinese government’s ongoing concerns about the intersections of religion and politics, as well as its willingness to undertake hard measures when it feels that a particular religious group has crossed the line and has undermined its authority, are evident in the ongoing suppression of Falun gong. In the aftermath of a silent and large-scale demonstration, staged by Falun gong in 1999 at the Communist Party’s headquarters in Beijing — said to have involved ten thousand followers — the government undertook a comprehensive persecution of the group, which it labeled as a subversive movement and deviant or evil cult. (Introducing Chinese Religions, 259)
 
Click for Falun Gong documentary
Shen Yun Logo
Poster for a Shen Yun performance
 
Chart showing religious persecution in the People's Republic of China
Mao coming out of a picture frame with a handfull of cash
Chart showing Gini Coefficient (wealth gap) by country
 
From Communism ... to Capitalism?
In public, some Chinese party stalwarts continued to express their belief in the socialist values with which they had been raised. As one acerbic party member noted in an anonymous special report, “the mentality of imitating Hong Kong and Taiwan culture, worshipping everything foreign, and yearning for the capitalist world has been passed from ignorant young people to some intellectuals and party and government cadres.” The author conjured up a Chinese world of “speculation in stocks and real estate, trading of false invoices, pornography, production and selling of counterfeit goods, and even smuggling,” within a society where a mere 2 percent of all bank depositors now contributed 80 percent of the total deposits. The author of the report went on to paint a scenario of industrial strikes, violence, rural impoverishment, and weakened cultural morale coexisting in close proximity with the world of “nightclubs, golfcourses, saunas, massage parlors, and brothels.” In his view, “almost all ugly phenomena of the old society prior to the establishment of the Republic have been revived.” (SMC, 688)
 
Map showing gini coefficient (wealth gap) with updated data on China
 
Can China continue to claim that it is a "communist" and/or "socialist" country
if it fails to narrow the growing gap between rich and poor?
Mao coming out of a picture frame with a handfull of cash
Aesop's "Wolf and Lamb" fable
 
The Wolf and the Lamb
Wei Jingsheng
November 18, 1993
When [Wei Jingsheng] was released in September 1993, after serving fourteen years of his term, he was just as outspoken and ascerbic in his criticisms of the CCP. The following op-ed appeared in the New York Times just weeks after Wei's release. It reflected his view that human rights in China had not improved in the intervening years. Wei also addressed the issue of American attitudes and policies toward engagement with China. Shortly after the essay's publication, Wei was again arrested.
  
Portrait of Wei Jingsheng[T]he Chinese Government ... does not understand why the U.S. might be unwilling to continue lucrative trade relations if China’s human rights environment does not improve. China doesn’t understand, because it thinks this way: Is it really likely that Americans would befriend a people they are not at all familiar with? Is it really likely that Americans would abandon an opportunity to make money just to protect the human rights of those they have befriended? Is it really likely that the American people’s determinations of right and wrong could ever influence the judgment of the U.S. Government? ... The Chinese people’s understanding of the new direction of U.S. policy toward China leads them to believe that the party was right all these years in saying that the American Government is controlled by rich capitalists. All you have to do is offer them a chance to make money and anything goes. (DC, 571-2)
Remake of a propaganda poster that says "We will definitely liberate Taiwan" with Bill and Hillary Clinton substituted for two of the original figures
Clinton’s China Policy
A Reevaluation of Human Rights
May 27, 1994
The question for us now is, given the fact that there has been some progress but that not all the requirements of the executive order [relating to human rights] were met, how can we best advance the cause of human rights and the other profound interests the United States has in our relationship with China? ... I am moving, therefore, to delink human rights from the annual extension of Most Favored Nation trading status for China. That linkage has been constructive during the past year, but I believe, based on our aggressive contacts with the Chinese in the past several months, that we have reached the end of the usefulness of that policy, and it is time to take a new path toward the achievement of our constant objectives. We need to place our relationship into a larger and more productive framework. (DC, 573)
 
Should the U.S. put more pressure on China to improve its record on human rights
or is our present relationship ultimately "more productive"?
Mao coming out of a picture frame with a handfull of cash