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Historical Jiu-Ping Forum Comes to Washington, D.C.
Scholars and China-watchers discuss the Jiu-Ping phenomenon
On Tuesday, Washington DC’s National Press Club hosted a monumental forum on the recently published Jiu-Ping, or Nine Commentaries on the Chinese Communist Party. In the wake of perhaps the biggest news story this year, a panel of distinguished scholars, journalists, and veteran China-watchers shared their predictions on China’s future and grappled to understand just how the immediate effects from the Nine Commentaries will play out in China and the rest of the world.
One of the most striking phenomena since the publication of the Nine Commentaries has been the wave of public declarations by over 1,500 Chinese Communist Party members of their decision to leave the Party. According to the Chinese-language Epoch Times website, which provides a page for CCP members to record their resignation from the Party, hundreds of CCP members in China and abroad have been joining this mass move to leave the party each day since the Jiu-Ping was published.
In Hong Kong, the Epoch Times printed 600,000 copies of the Nine Commentaries in just one week in an attempt to meet the public’s increasing demand and curiosity of the Jiu-Ping. So, just what are the Nine Commentaries? They are nine articles that provide an incisive view into the origins and nature of the political party that has been around in China for over eighty years and ruled the country for the past fifty-five years. Since their publication in the international multi-language newspaper The Epoch Times on November 19, Chinese and academic communities inside and outside of China have been shocked, sobered, and are now re-thinking China’s future.
Michael A. Ledeen, freedom scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and formerly of the National Security Council joined Tuesday’s panel and talked about the peculiarities of the Chinese Communist Party. The governments that last the longest are elected governments. Totalitarian regimes, though they act nasty and cruel, are in fact fragile. And it is only a matter of time before they fall. He mentioned the CCP’s insistence on being called Communist although it is clearly fascist, and also touched on one of the CCP’s biggest blunders – its “compartmentalizing” of the freedoms of the people, by giving economic freedom while retaining political freedom. On his prediction for China and its people after the publication of the Nine Commentaries, Mr. Ledeen stated that he was moderately optimistic, a noteworthy point coming from a scholar who is rarely optimistic. It is telling to look at phenomena such as many Chinese children of oligarchs buying real estate in Canada and other overseas countries, likely as “escape homes” in which to flee in case things don’t go as planned in China.
Mr. Ledeen noted that we are living in “the most incredible, interesting moment in history where the final outcome is completely unknown.” He went on to note that “two things can determine the outcome. One being the courage, determination, and bravery of the people who want to be free; the other being the will of the regime to do whatever it must, at whatever cost, to retain tyrannical power.” Mr. Ledeen concluded by predicting that soon “freedom will expand in one more place in the world.”
Michael Horowitz, Director of Civil Justice Reform and the Project for International Religious Liberty at the Hudson Institute, spoke about the prospects of democracy in China. He refuted a popular belief held among young Koreans that China is strong and a country everyone should jump at the chance to connect with economically by noting that America used to say the same thing about Japan. Mr. Horowitz reminded the audience that America is a land of immigrants, who escaped oppression and despair in their homelands. He said emphatically that “it is up to us,” and encouraged the largest of the persecuted groups in China, the Christians and Falun Gong practitioners, to do more in the United States to end the persecution in China.
Also on the panel was Ethan Gutmann, author of Losing the New China: A Story of American Commerce, Desire, and Betrayal, and visiting fellow at the Project for the New American Century. Mr. Gutmann shared his experiences as a writer and former business consultant in Beijing. He revealed the pivotal role that American information technology (IT) corporations have played for the CCP. What began as a rather straightforward project to develop a firewall to censor web activity in China has developed into the Gold Shield Project to retrieve information on every Chinese Internet user. So in effect, American IT corporations have assisted in the roundup of Internet dissidents, the fastest growing group that the CCP is trying to quash. Mr. Gutmann called this an attack on America’s security, on democracy and free speech, and most importantly, on the Chinese people. He explained that capitalism is not dead in China, should the CCP fall. Rather, that would be capitalism’s best hope. When asked whether the world should just give the CCP time to evolve as the Chinese economy grows, Mr. Gutmann smiled and said that although that has been its theory all along, “the political system is just so out of step with the economic growth.“ He stressed the importance, however, of having a correction process for the Chinese people, where they can begin to talk about the major things that have happened in their history. Mr. Gutmann ended by saying that hopefully that process “starts with this discussion today.”
The final panelist Chu-cheng Ming is a professor of political science at National Taiwan University, and a current Fulbright scholar at George Washington University. Mr. Ming explained the absurdness of the CCP’s history by setting up a hypothetical where China and America switched places. He posited that the Nine Commentaries was not a cue to overthrow the State but rather an awakening of conscience. He affirmed the importance of holding Jiu-Ping forums around the world, this being the first in English. He commended the Chinese people who have been brave enough to join these forums and concluded by telling his fellow panelists and the audience that we need to do this “in order to tell the truth to those who have been cheated, to say that we did this for the record, for our children and our children’s children to come.”
At the close of the forum, Mr. Murray expressed his pleasant surprise that the forum was well-attended by Western media. He explained that there has been tremendous acquiescence of news agencies in keeping quiet about repression in China. Mr. Horowitz promised that after the forum ended he would personally call the media in New York to report on this breaking and historic news story. All the panelists expressed their hope that this forum would be just the beginning of the dialogue for China’s basic freedoms.
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