|The fading of Jiang's 'Three
By Xu Yufang
BEIJING - There's a story going around Beijing
that China and Russia had finally agreed to do away with
Iraq's Saddam Hussein. George W Bush was jubilant and
bought presidents Vladimir Putin and Jiang Zemin a
"Tomorrow I'll deploy three B-2 bombers
to blow Saddam's house to rubbles, then he'll surely
die," confided Bush.
"That's not 100 percent
sure," commented Putin. "Let me deploy three Russian
blondes and they will certainly exhaust the man to
death," volunteered the former spy in a fashion
compatible with his background.
"Still not good
enough," said Jiang. "My method is most perfect." Then
the 76-year-old statesman showed off his talent. "I need
only to deploy my 'Three Represent[ative]s' and they
will surely bore him to death."
The joke is only
one among many being circulated in China's capital city
making mockery of Jiang's "Three Represents" discourses.
"Although there has been a lot of fuss over this
'Three Represents' matter, no one, possibly not even
Jiang himself, is serious of it," remarked a retired
cadre. It is in fact an open secret that an article
written by Bao Tong, former private secretary to
disgraced party chief Zhao Ziyang, has been read and
approved by scholars and cadres in Beijing. In that
article, which was published in Hong Kong and banned on
the mainland, Bao argued that the political theories of
the "Three Represents" did not possess minimal worth.
Bao has not been subject to visible harassment
or punishment since the publication of that article. As
commentators from different backgrounds agreed
unanimously, "That is telling."
On the other
hand, publicity efforts on behalf of the "Three
Represents" have been losing momentum. Since the first
week of September, those magic words have almost
completely disappeared from headlines of news reports of
state-level media, including China Central Television
and People's Daily. The phrase does, however, retain its
presence in news and commentary contents.
most indicative sign of the times rests with Hu Jintao,
heir apparent to Jiang's top positions. Hu has refrained
from quoting the catchwords since September.
then articles posing a challenge to the assertions of
"Three Represents" began springing up from time to time.
September 15 was a particularly meaningful day.
Xinhua, China's official news agency, fed the domestic
media two eye-catching pieces on that Sunday. One piece
from the western city of Chengdu complained that boasts
of China's advancement in the scientific field over the
past few yeas were only bluffs. The other piece gave a
rosy picture of how the Chinese people were enjoying
their daily lives.
The piece on scientific
advancement was a head-on rebuttal to the assertion that
the Communist Party of China (CPC) is promoting advanced
productivity. It pointed out that for four years the
state's natural science award had seen no recipient but
during the same period, there was no lack of celebratory
news: an undertaking three years ago to complete the
human genome map within a year with solely domestic
efforts, a promise to produce cloned human organs in
five years, as many as 10 provinces having designated
zones to develop nanotechnology, and the recent claim of
having developed a supercomputer of trega-hertz (a
trillion revolutions per second) speed. The final item
on the list was alleged to be merely a combination of
commercial hardware and downloaded software of open
codes, and thus nothing but a scam.
to the statement by the late patriarch Deng Xiaoping
that science and technology is the No 1 productivity
goal, the article tacitly implied that China, under the
ruling of CPC, was not only backward in its
productivity, but has also been dishonest.
piece on people's livelihood was very positive. It
listed 10 major characteristics of the improvement in
the quality of life of the common populace: personal and
family incomes were growing at a geometric rate; the
proportion of family incomes spent on food had dropped
to 37.9 percent and 47.7 percent respectively for city
and rural dwellers; people were more choosy in their
diets; life expectancy was much longer; people's living
spaces were becoming bigger and bigger; more and more
people owned cars; the popularization rate of suits and
leather shoes had exceeded 90 percent; education
attainment had leaped; holiday travels had become a
general way of life; and communications had come
speedier with the introduction of new technology.
In one way, this rosy picture was real. One need
only take a stroll on the main streets of Beijing,
Shanghai, Guangzhou or Shenzhen to get the feel.
But the timing of the piece was unfortunate.
Just a few days before, the CPC had a high-profile
meeting on the country's pressing unemployment problems.
All members of the politburo standing committee,
including Jiang, turned up. But official figures showed
that China's unemployment rate was an enviable 3.8
percent, which should not trouble any government. Then
the Labor Ministry quietly said the figure concerned
only cities. The real problem rested with peasants, and
the estimate of unemployment was between 20 and 30
percent when rural areas were included.
unemployment-ridden rural areas, the average family
income could be as low as US$250 per year, and the 10
characteristics of the improving quality of life were
nothing but myths to the peasants. Such a contrast led
to the crucial question: How could the CPC claim to
represent the broadest interest of the general populace?
It would have been perfect if a third article
discussing cultural issues was also carried on the same
day. But it was not there, so the cynicism over the
"Three Represents" was less obvious.
however, the long-awaited negative piece on the cultural
aspect appeared on the first day of November, on the
homepage of the People's Daily. The article argued that
China's culture as a continuous development and
encompassing many ethnic races was not unique among the
world's civilizations. It also argued that the Confucian
school of thought, which emphasizes obedience and social
order, could not claim to represent the culture of
Chinese races. It was a direct criticism on Jiang's
assertion made during a conference a few months ago.
The piece was allowed on the Net for only a few
hours, but that was long enough to get the attention of
many, especially when it was posted on the eve of the
latest Central Committee meeting of the CPC.
a few days, the CPC will convene the all-important 16th
Party Congress. The media outside China have tipped that
Jiang's "Three Represents" sayings will be enshrined in
the new party charter. That will occur only as an
addendum in the preamble as a comfort to the retiring
party chief. "That will not bring upon any substantive
change, as the sayings in fact do not contain any
substance - at least there is no agreed substance within
vast majority of party members," quipped a cadre whose
job is related to theoretical works.
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