By Zhang Jing
Editor’s note: The author is a longtime Chinese human-rights advocate IW living in the U,S., and founder and executive director in particular of Women’s Rights in China.
Not long ago, there was a call for papers, with substantial prizes available, circulating on the Internet. Many figures in the pro-democracy movement with substantial online followings are serving as judges. The themes in the solicitation of papers are on the one hand “Let Us Discuss Autocracy: A Call to Action,” and on the other a “National Nonviolent Non-Cooperation Action Plan.”
“In disastrous times, the people suffer; in prosperous times, they also suffer.” It is this quote from Zhang Yanghao, an official during the Yuan Dynasty, that led the call for essays, “Let Us Discuss Autocracy.” This sentence reveals the consistent survival mode of the Chinese people under the centralized and authoritarian system that has coursed through the country for more than 2,000 years. Even in 21st-century Chinese society, we can infer the continued existence of this vivid tragedy.
By the beginning of the 20th century, the Chinese had tired of the tyranny of the imperial power, and social elites were criticizing it in both speech and writing, and were advocating universal values. But a dark tyranny quietly and freakishly overthrew the brief democracy instead [the Republic of China having been quickly overthrown by the dictator Yuan Shikai almost immediately, followed by years of civil war and KMT dictatorship]. 1949 was the first year of the CCP’s Marxist violence. Since then, it has abused the Chinese people without relent. From 1951 onwards the people have suffered the anti-counterfeiting campaign, the three- and five-antis campaigns, land reform, the people’s communes, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, coercive family planning, the Tiananmen Square massacre, the female workers who were told to “be a good cat” and accept their firing to revitalize the economy, and 500 million farmers leaving their homes and going to the city to toil, along with the associated separation of 80 million village children from their parents, followed by the tragedy of having to return every Spring Festival on a trail of blood and tears. Penned in by the tyrannical fence of “In disastrous times, the people suffer; in prosperous times, they also suffer,” the people’s tragedies repeat themselves again and again. The more than 70 years under CCP rule is basically the epitome of thousands of years of Chinese imperial history.
In aggregate the persecution the Chinese people have suffered from the policies and systems of the CCP regime is shocking. Millions, tens of millions, or even hundreds of millions of people have died unexpectedly. Among them are scholars, workers and farmers in the prime of life, as well as young people, even college, high-school and middle-school students. And this does not include the countless pregnant women deprived of their lives in the implementation of family planning, nor the 400 million innocent fetuses who were massacred.
“It’s her!” While a line, a confession, in the Japanese movie “Hunt” [a 1978 film, the first foreign movie released in China after the Cultural Revolution], this is also what family-planning cadres shouted to their accomplices who rounded up pregnant women who illegally gave birth in 2011. Ma Jihong, a peasant woman who was 6 months pregnant in Jiangjiazhuang, Lijin County, Shandong Province, hid in a cotton field to avoid the family-planning arrest team, but was finally dragged out of the cotton field by them and sent to the hospital for a forced abortion, resulting in two deaths. Zhang Ronghua was pregnant with her second child for nearly 10 months. In 2012, because she did not have a “birth permit,” mother and child also died on a delivery bed in the Maternal and Child Health Hospital in Tengzhou…In 1983 alone, China had nearly 50 million women who were subjected to forced family planning, of which 17,755,736 had IUD implantations, 16,398,378 had tubal ligations, and 14,371,843 had induced abortions. This does not include missing statistical data from remote areas, nor does it include public or private medical abortion data. (The above data are from Section 8-8-1 of the “China Health and Family Planning Statistical Yearbook,” published by the National Health and Family Planning Commission Statistical Information Center in 2013.) In addition, there were tens of millions of young and middle-aged men who could be and were arrested and sterilized at any time.
This national family-planning policy has harmed the Chinese people in ways without precedent in Chinese history, and indeed is also unprecedented in world history.
Isn’t childbirth, reproduction, the most normal, natural phenomenon for human beings? For thousands of years in China, regardless of whatever natural or man-made disasters might occur, even the worst emperors never cared whether a family had children or not. But today’s CCP controls the sky and the earth, including of course women’s wombs. In the past, pregnant women who were convicted of “excessive birth” were arrested so as to “pull out” the fetus in their stomachs. Today, women are instead called on to give birth to obtain prizes, and students who marry and attempt to procreate are given priority. And for those women who were previously regarded as “super-birth criminals,” who were tortured, sometimes to the extent of permanent disfigurement or even death via equipment, drugs, medical malpractice, etc., will the government apologize? Have the murderers been tried and the dead and injured compensated?
The national family-planning policy has been just one of a series of planned, organized and large-scale campaigns to persecute people of all ethnic groups in China over the 70 years since the founding of the People’s Republic.
And it is not only crimes committed by the CCP against the Chinese people further in the past that remain unpunished. The most recent ones are unaddressed as well. After 2020, the anti-COVID policy of “dynamic” clearing, and closing and suddenly unblocking certain areas caused countless people to die needlessly, and in vain. The large-scale arrests for coercive nucleic-acid testing, the overcrowding in human warehouses of those who had tested positive, people choosing self-immolation in front of their doors, the wailing from hunger and pain…these things are unbearable to look back on. But the common people accepted their suffering, thinking that everything would be fine once the pandemic was over. As a result, Xi Jinping was able to personally carry out other campaigns during this time, eliminating Internet tycoons, those who promoted sales of celebrity-endorsed merchandise, and killing the education and training industry, and now doing the same to leading figures in the medical industry. But the CCP system that breeds all of this corruption throughout various industries remains intact.
While the CCP took turns imposing its intensive “fines” and other money-grabbing operations in many varied economic arenas, it dragged down the entire national economy, destroying the fruits of the people’s saving and hard work. Farmers who have been working in cities for many years are still the “low-end population,” and are driven back to their hometowns with empty pockets; at present, 40% of young people cannot find a job. The government has now straightforwardly announced that it will not disclose future employment data for young people. Even data on land sales, foreign-exchange reserves, bond transactions, academic information, and the Wuhan virus (Covid-19) death rate are now concealed. And data such as resumes of senior officials’ are now not made public. Collectively it is simply brazen, shameless.
Why do some people continue to place hope in the CCP despite the overwhelming evidence of its endless sea of heinous crimes? Here the recipe is lies + violence. For example, the party thinks that you should not have children, and uses its rhetoric to get you to believe it too. There are a hundred reasons why you must kill your children, and so you think it is your fault. When the party needs you to have more children, it will do everything possible to give you money, albeit in minuscule amounts, and the students who receive it to “give birth to the country” will hold onto it for dear life. Yes, for any human being in CCP China there is only one road to walk in life, and there is no resurrection after death. Given this, are there many people who aren’t afraid to do otherwise?
There are those who say that this is an inevitable stage in the history of Chinese civilization, but I say that this is the savage bullying of the jungle beast, darkness inflicted without remorse.
The Chinese people have been bullied for too long. They have endured more than 70 years and several generations of comprehensive rectification and brainwashing, and most of them choose to blot it out of their memories, or are willing to accept it. As long as things don’t happen to them personally, it is basically “refrain from caring about others.” As a result, Stockholm syndrome now sprouts in China. People who understand clearly nonetheless choose to close their eyes and protect themselves by not telling the truth, or simply to passively follow the prevailing political winds. While there is a small group of people who never give up and who pursue the truth, if they remain in China, they are likely to be frostbitten and die of cold on their way to keeping others warm; I for example cannot return to my hometown.
In fact, if one thinks about it more deeply, what is the difference between humans and animals? In addition to material desires, people also on some level have spiritual goals. Wang Weilin, who blocked that tank in 1989, is remembered by the world today. Peng Lifa on the Sitong Bridge in 2021 is also awe-inspiring. The reason is they spoke the truth, and did what was just and right. They bravely pierced the night sky like shooting stars. Although their deeds were short-lived, they will remain in the world forever. They knew the wisdom of “not for the sake of eternity, but for the sake of one moment’s righteousness.” They were not born on their knees, but were warriors who died standing up.
We all know that the democratic system has its flaws, but in a democratic society there are laws to abide by, and people can live with dignity and hope. In an autocratic system, only the rulers are respected. Even if there are laws, they will not be followed. Dignity and hope are important values in civilized society, and enabling people to have them serves the public interest. Daring to tell the truth is the first step in resisting violence. It is time for China to become a country ruled by law rather than by men. The call for essays on “Discussing Autocracy” sets up a platform for everyone to tell the truth together, to expose the darkness of communist dictatorship, and to reject the rotten debasement of the imperial autocracy. Your voice and views will be heard by the public and others will benefit from it.
In waging the crusade against dictatorship. you can listen, you can speak, you can write, you can do. It is the responsibility of all of us.
August 20, 2023
This piece was translated from Yibao Chinese. If republished, please be sure to add the source and link before the text when reposting.
The views of the author do not necessarily represent those of this journal.