Two Versions of China: Repression and Resistance
There are two opposing versions of China. Version one has been ruled by one party for 66 years now. They call themselves CCP, although no-one can tell whether the middle “C” stands for “Communist” or “Capitalist”. Perhaps “Chameleon” is a more suitable name. This week, its head, the thuggish dictator, is coming to London, staying in the Palace.
China Version Two, is represented by this humble woman, a human rights defender. Her name was Cao Shunli. She died in police custody on 14 March 2014. A law graduate and civil servant, Cao Shunli became a petitioner after losing her job for exposing corruption during China’s housing privatization. Like many other petitioners, she was arbitrarily detained for many times and twice subjected to the Re-education through Labour. With her knowledge of international human rights law, she tried to engage with the UN’s human rights mechanisms, but the reprisal from the Chinese government cost her life.
So here we have two versions of China: Xi Jinping’s China versus Cao Shunli’s China.
In Xi Jinping’s China, the Party is the State, the State is the Party. The CCP has never had electoral mandate. They came to power by using the gun and they remain in power by using the gun. That’s the weapon for their stability maintenance. In Cao Shunli’s China, Liu Ping, a single mum and a laid-off factory worker in Jiangxi, stood as an independent candidate in the election of local People’s Congress. She received overwhelming public support, but she was repeatedly detained by the authorities and assaulted by government-hired thugs. She has been locked in a jail serving a 6.5-year sentence.
Power leads to corruption; absolute power corrupts absolutely. In Xi’s China, the top-down crackdown on corruption has been nothing but an exercise of purging political rivals. In Cao Shunli’s China, New Citizen Movement and Southern Street Movement called for the disclosure of government officials’ assets. The initiators of these movements are all locked in jail.
Xi Jinping’s China suppresses freedom of expression. After Xi Jinping took power in 2013, he banned 7 topics in particular from public discussion, the so-called “Seven don’t-mentions” (七不讲): universal values, media independence, civil society, civil rights, historical mistakes of the CCP, crony capitalism, judicial independence. In Cao Shunli’s China, Gao Yu, a 71-year-old journalist, is serving a 7-year sentence for criticizing Xi Jinping’s “Seven don’t mentions”. One year for one banned topic. Yet, she said: you have gun, I have pen. “Between freedom and dictatorship, truth and lies, there is no middle ground.”
Xi’s China forbids independent trade unions. regime harsh crackdown targets Non-governemental networks, including labour activist. In Guangdong and Zhejiang, over 70 labour grassroots organistions were closed this year, Tens of labour activists have ben detained. Liu Shaoming, a worker, participating the 1989 demonstrations, was jailed for a year after Tiananmen Massacre. In recent years, he has actively promoted workers’ rights in China’s southern industrial regions and, as a result, has been frequently harassed by police. He was taken away from his home in Guangzhou in May this year, and he has not been heard from since then.
Xi’s China is ruled by manipulating the law. They write into the Constitution that the CCP’s leadership must not be challenged. The court is led by Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China. They put lawyers into prisons. Cao Shunli’s China, on the contrary, calls for genuine rule of law. Lawyers fight alongside human rights defenders.
In Xi Jinping’s China, June 4th is called May the 35th. The authorities of Xi Jinping’s China are continuing to forbid any public commemoration. Those who attempted to remember June 4 at the 25th anniversary are still being kept in prison to this day. In Cao Shunli’s China, Tiananmen Mothers have never given up their demand for justice. This month, Jiang Peikun, whose son was killed in the Massacre, passed away. The justice is still pending.
Today, the UK is faced with two versions of China. Choosing Xi Jinping’s China, the UK will be bought and fooled on its knees. Choosing Cao Shunli’s China, the UK will stand in solidarity with the people of China, which will eventually also benefit the people of Britain.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.