On Friday, July 19, a text circulated on QQ that is a record of Xu Zhiyong’s “talks” with a top official of the Beijing Public Security Bureau that occurred on June 25, 26 and 28. Its authenticity has since been confirmed by Xu’s close associates. ChinaChange.org is providing a complete translation of the text in three installments. This is part 3; read part 1 here, part 2 here. (Omissions are the author’s.)
By Xu Zhiyong
Published: July 28, 2013
I wrote down my thoughts about the ideas and actions of being a citizen. After sharing the result with a few friends, I revised it as My Civic Ideals (see below). I was saddened thinking that I might not be returning home for years. In my prayer appeared the following sentence: “I am grateful that God give me forty years of life, experience and happiness. I love the human race, for that love, I’m willing to face death.” I became completely calm. (A close associate of Xu Zhiyong told me that he is not an adherent of any specific religion, but embraces a more general deism. – trans.)
Around three o’clock in the afternoon, I arrived at the same location. C hadn’t arrived, and D asked, “The thing we asked you to write, what are the main points?”
Me: My ideals as a true citizen are to stay reasonable and constructive, and pursue freedom, justice and love. Our methods can be discussed, and we will try our best to take action within the constitutional and legal framework.
D: What do you mean “try our best?” You must take actions within the legal framework. (Omission)
Me: “Try our best” is to try to do so, but conscience is higher than law.
D: The things you have done – they disrupt the social order, and you have done them for your personal purpose……
Me: (I interrupted him, stating slowly and loudly) The only purpose of my life is freedom — justice and – love!
C: I have read what you have written about your ideals as a citizen. You have shown no intention to admit your guilt and surrender yourself to the law. And you still talk about the same things. Your write-up should have included at least three points: Number one, you support the party’s guidelines and policies. Number two, you admit your guilt and surrender yourself to the law. Number three, you avow that you will not go back on your word. When you are done, we can get it in the media to disseminate.
Me: Pardon me, the promises you want me to make are unrealistic. You will have to understand that Xu Zhiyong will never sell out his conscience and his beliefs. Not at any time, never, should you expect me to give up my dignity, not a bit. I am not a radical person. I can consult with you but I have my bottom line, and I am willing to pay any price for my beliefs.
C: Based on these articles of yours, you don’t support the party’s leadership, you are anti-party.
C: You are against socialism.
Me: What is socialism, may I ask you? The fundamental attributes of scientific socialism are a planned economy and public ownership, and you have long been opposing it. Socialism cannot be separated from democracy; one-party rule is completely detrimental to socialism, so you are against socialism as well. We pursue democracy, rule of law, fairness and justice, and these pursuits are not contradictory to the original ideals of socialism. In all likelihood, I am more of a socialist than you are.
C: You oppose the socialist system. For example, in your open letter (a partial translation by ChinaChang.org), you brazenly reject the system of the Congress of People’s Representatives.
Me: The National People’s Congress is the country’s highest organ of power, do you believe that? The highest organ of power is subject to the leadership of the party? Aren’t you disgusted by that flagrant and dirty lie? If a country’s basic political system is such a hypocritical lie, how do you hope for an honest society? Fundamentally speaking, the politics we pursue is truthfulness, bidding goodbye to dishonesty and living an honest and truthful life.
C: You sound really pretty, but you are in fact a political swindler.
Me: (Sorry, I was angered) If you haven’t met me, perhaps you would hear how calculating and foxy Xu Zhiyong is, so on and so forth. But you and I have talked for two afternoons. Look into my eyes and put your hands on your conscience, do you think Xu Zhiyong is a swindler? Political hooligans and swindlers are the people I detest the most. I am not like them at all, those who do not need a draft when churning out lies.
C: What I am saying is that, you have your political purposes but you got parents without Beijing household registration to campaign for fair education. Did you tell them your political purposes?
Me: My political purposes are very clear and I have never hidden them from anyone: for a beautiful China where freedom, justice and love prevail. To fight for equal education rights is to fight for justice, for love, and it is part of the ideal of being a citizen. The campaign for equal education rights is for the children, and once it succeeds, it ceases. Serving society is a citizen’s responsibility, and I don’t have to talk about that lofty political vision with them every day, but I have never hidden it from anyone.
C: You are anti-party but you wouldn’t dare to admit it, nor would you dare to take the responsibility for it.
Me: You are so perverse! What is there that I am afraid to take responsibility for? For what I believe, you can take me away right now. Haven’t you told me that I have committed several crimes? As a citizen with reason, I do not oppose for the sake of opposing; our goal is true democracy, not just overthrowing and beating down. Freedom, justice and love, these are my beliefs. I’m a simple man, and I do not conspire behind the banner of idealism. It’s an insult when you say the goal of my life is to seek power and status. I don’t pursue anything for myself; I live for my sense of mission.
C: Li Yiping’s (李一平) Strategy for Regime Change (《变局策》) has clearly summed up what you have been doing, that is, to overthrow the socialist system. But you wouldn’t dare admit it.
Me: Their ideas are very different from ours. I have already written an article to clarify. What we do is to encourage everyone to do what a citizen does and to pursue freedom, justice and love, and to seek real democracy and the rule of law. We welcome any party as long as it is elected by the people. I have stated this position many times. There is nothing that I believe but would not dare to admit. Don’t think everyone else is like you, who make dark assumptions about others.
(Long silence. )
C: Why aren’t you talking anymore? I can tell you are having complicated feelings.
Me: No, not at all. I am thinking: how could your mind be so distorted as to imagine that Xu Zhiyong is a swindler? In your imagination, everyone is a conspirer who says one thing and does another. Is this your idea of politics? How terrible such a society is, and I am sad for the human race. I detest nothing more than political hooligans and swindlers who have no moral scruples whatsoever. The mission of my life is to change this.
C: You must know that what you have done constitutes crimes, and you will be subjected to coercive measures.
Me: I am willing to pay any price for my beliefs, and a decade more in prison will be my glory.
C: Of course, taking coercive measures is for the sake of education.
Me: No, that will be impossible. If I am arrested, I will speak only in the court. Otherwise, I will be completely silent. I am willing to be silent for a decade.
C: In 2009, you only admitted mistakes and you refused to admit your guilt. We let you go that time, but you are still unrepentant.
Me: I wasn’t completely ready in 2009. You (plural) said, if I got out, there would be room for me to do things. So I admitted mistakes to meet you half way. Right now I can still talk to you, but if I am again arrested, there will be no way that I will compromise.
C: Do not be so absolute.
Me: Positively absolute. There will be no room. Do you want to know what I prayed last night? I love the human race, for that love, I am willing to face death.
C: You are too stubborn. If you continue down this path, you will bring to the country disasters that are far more catastrophic than robberies and murders.
Me: No, I am not someone who seeks power and selfish gain without scruples. We are builders with reason. Every step of progress we make will bring to the country not disasters, but light and hope. Disasters are in the making, and you (plural) are the makers of them. All of our efforts are aimed at reducing unfairness, anger and calamity, and mitigating the price ordinary people will pay in the social transformation that will inevitably occur.
C: You are such a hard-to-pick bone.
Me: Pardon me, do not think this way. Do not think you haven’t done a good job convincing me. You ought to understand that there are believers in this world who are willing to pay any price. I may not be able to convince you that there are such pure idealists in China, but I will use my entire life to prove that politics does not have to be unscrupulous, does not have to be treacherous, does not have to be a wilderness of the gangs or a jungle where ruthlessness rules. Politics can be beautiful.
C: It’s 6 o’clock again. Let’s continue another time.
Me: No more need for talks, unless you want to have a personal conversation with me about life, religion and other private issues.
We bid goodbye amiably. C gave me a few copies of study materials for the 18th Party’s Congress.
I don’t know how long I will be confined. For freedom, justice and love, it doesn’t matter anymore. At home, looking outside the windows, the world is both real and illusory, life is an experience without grudges or regrets, and love alone is real.
Citizen Xu Zhiyong, June 30, 2013
My Ideals as a Citizen
(This is Xu Zhiyong’s writeup of his thoughts requested by his interlocutor at the end of their conversation on June 26.)
To advocate that everyone be a citizen is to pursue real democracy, the rule of law, fairness, justice, and to seek a society where freedom, justice and love prevail. The people who made up the group called Citizen are not an “organization,” but a voluntary alliance of Chinese who pursue the dream of being a citizen. Everyone can regard himself or herself as a citizen, and join others to promote social progress.
The guiding beliefs of citizenship include freedom, justice and love. In the ideas and speech of citizens, there are no concepts such as “overthrowing,” “beating down,” and “enemy.” We oppose hostility and hatred, and try to resolve them. We hope China will transition, with minimal price, to a democratic and constitutional government, thus realizing the dream of democracy and liberty fought for by generations of courageous and idealistic Chinese. This is my conviction.
I am not a member of the Communist Party. But as a moderate and reasonable citizen, I respect the historical reality that the CCP is currently ruling China, and after all, social transformation needs order. But the CCP has the responsibility to make good on the promise of the “People’s Republic.” For the people to be the masters of the country means the people must have the real right to choose. I am happy to see any political party, by direct, free and fair elections, becoming the ruling party. I sincerely hope that the CCP will emulate the Nationalist Party [in Taiwan], doing away with the dictatorial ideas that see all dissenting voices as enemies, sincerely respecting the will of the people, and returning power to the people. The communists must follow the global trend on the one hand, and answer those Chinese who have made the ultimate sacrifice over more than one hundred years to pursue democracy and liberty on the other.
My ideals are not all that contrary to the original socialist ideals. For socialism to pursue fairness and justice, it has to have democracy and the rule of law. For socialism to develop productivity, it must have a market economy. Socialism is not the same as one-party dictatorship, a planned economy and collective ownership. There are varieties of socialism. Between 1949 and 1978, China implemented a planned economy and collective ownership, or the so-called “scientific socialism.” Since 1978, China implemented privatization of property and a market economy, and it is precisely these “capitalist practices” condemned during the Cultural Revolution that have spurred China’s economic development over the last 30 years. But in the end, whatever –ism is not important; what’s important is to solve the country’s problems and bring freedom and democracy to the country.
We want to behave like real citizens who enjoy the universal rights provided for by the Constitution, and we want to promote social progress in rational and constructive manners. If it is committing a crime to want to become a real citizen and to seek freedom, justice and love, then I am willing to pay the full price for such a “crime” – it is something I will be forever proud of.
Of course, it is possible that some of my approaches might have been inappropriate in my actions as a citizen, and I am willing to listen to anyone in order to better realize my ideals. I will try to advocate the ideas of freedom, justice and love. I hope everyone will adhere to moderation and reason, taking into consideration of the viability of our actions and carry out actions within the framework of the constitution and the law.
The people under the banner of Citizen are advocates for, and builders of, democracy and constitutionalism, not creators of social turmoil. Anger over privilege and corruption is the source of social instability, and the trigger often is a sudden and unforeseeable incident. We are a group of responsible citizens who love China and want to improve her. If such a group of people, moderate with reason, cannot be tolerated, desperate violence will lead the entire Chinese people to tragedies. I hope the ruling party will make a concrete effort to submit to the trend of civilization, and push China to transition to democracy and constitutionalism of its own accord. That will be a blessing for the Chinese people.
Citizen Xu Zhiyong, June 28, 2013
The Last Ten Years, a review of Gong Meng’s work by Xu Zhiyong
New Citizens’ Movement by Xu Zhiyong