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By Humanitarian China and China Change, published: April 26, 2015
Humanitarian China will match your donation, as it did in the Ilham Tohti drive, and send twice as much as it receives to the family of Gao Yu.
On April 17, Beijing Municipal Third Intermediary People’s Court sentenced 71-year-old independent Chinese journalist Gao Yu (高瑜) to 7 years in prison for “leaking state secrets to foreign contacts,” provoking a domestic and international outcry and condemnation. The state secrets in question are the infamous Document No. 9 of the Chinese Communist Party that seeks to prohibit discussions in China of constitutional democracy, universal values, civil society, ideas of free market economy, press freedom, historical errors of the Party, and the ills of socialism with Chinese characteristics. These are known as the Seven Don’t Mentions. The barbaric nature of this document is apparent, and any principled journalist or citizen should reveal it and oppose it. As a matter of fact, long before Gao Yu, the document had been widely talked about online and offline, inside and outside of China. Such a Party document, aimed at handcuffing the otherwise vibrant Chinese society, has no basis to constitute a “state secret.”
However, in dictatorial China where the rule of law is but a prop, what is, or is not, a state secret is arbitrarily decided by the Party. But even if this document is a secret, the prosecutors had no evidence to prove that Gao Yu passed it on to overseas contacts, and Gao Yu was convicted based on the “public confessions” she had made under duress on CCTV. As such, the sentence of Gao Yu is clearly a reprisal against a courageous journalist and freedom of the press. And it is a redoubled provocation against the universal concept of justice, and part of Xi Jinping’s systematic suppression of the press, the internet, the dissent, and the civil society.
Gao Yu was born in Chongqing in 1944 and graduated from the Chinese Language Department of Renmin University of China in 1967. She became a journalist with the state-owned China News in 1980, and in 1988, she became the deputy editor-in-chief of the Economics Weekly (《經濟學周報》), a liberal-leaning paper that was shut down after the Tiananmen Movement in 1989. This is Gao Yu’s third time in jail. She was secretly detained on June 3rd, 1989, for 450 days. In November, 1994, because of her writings for the Mirror magazine in Hong Kong, she was sentenced by Beijing Municipal Intermediary Court to 6 years in prison for “leaking state secrets.”
As one of the few fearless independent journalists in China, Gao Yu has won broad international recognition. She was awarded the Golden Pen of Freedom Award by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers in 1995. The international Women’s Media Foundation twice awarded Gao Yu the Courage in Journalism Award in 1995 and 2006. And, she was the first laureate (1997) of UNESCO’s annual World Press Freedom Prize.
Gao Yu suffers from hypertension, heart disease, and Meniere’s disease. Since losing her job in the state system, she has depended on her reporting for a living that’s too often constrained. She has had only minimal medical insurance, and has no pension or welfare benefits. Gao Yu is in urgent need of help to relieve her of financial difficulties so that she can receive adequate and effective treatment and nutrition (in China’s prisons, relatives and friends must make deposits for prisoners so that the latter can purchase food and supplies that are often overpriced).
Out of humanitarian considerations, Humanitarian China and China Change are simultaneously launching this joint donation drive for Gao Yu. Humanitarian China, founded by Zhou Fengsuo (周鋒鎖) and friends in 2007, is a small non-profit charity in the Bay Area in California. It has for years devoted to helping struggling prisoners of conscience and their families with small relief funds. In 2014, Humanitarian China provided relief for nearly 100 people, and its donation drive for the Uighur scholar Ilham Tohti garnered a total of more than $10,000 and the funds were delivered to Ilham’s family. ChinaChange.org was launched on June 4th, 2013, an English-language website dedicated to reporting on human rights, rule of law, and civil society in China. The website has translated multiple articles by Gao Yu, and her article Xi Jinping the Man was the first to unveil what kind of leader Xi Jinping is in January, 2013. It is one of the most read posts on this website.
But your contribution is more than just humanitarian. It is also a token of opposition to political tyranny in China.
Humanitarian China will match your donation, as it did in the Ilham Tohti drive, and send twice as much as it receives to the family of Gao Yu.
You may choose check, credit card, or PayPal to make a donation. You can also make a completely anonymous contribution through a secure third party. Please visit http://h-china.org/donation/ for details.
The donation drive will end on June 4th, 2015. We thank you for your kindness and generosity.
人道中國暨China Change, 2015年4月26日
從基本的人道主義出發，人道中國和 China Change 在兩家網站同步聯合發起為高瑜募捐活動。人道中國是位於美國加利福尼亞州灣區的一個小型非盈利公共福利組織，由周鋒鎖等三人於2007年創立，經年致力於小額救助生活艱難的中國大陸良心犯及其家人，2014年共救助近一百人。在去年九月至十月一次類似的專項募捐活動中，人道中國為被判處終身監禁的維吾爾族學者伊力哈木∙土赫提家人募集一萬多美元。ChinaChange.org創立於2013年6月4日，是一個致力於報導和傳播有關中國大陸人權、民主、法治、公民社會消息的英文網站，曾翻譯多篇高瑜女士的文章。她2013年初最早向世界分析習近平的文章《男兒習近平》之英譯版是本網站閱讀量最大的文章之一。
By ChinaChange.org, published: August 31, 2013
Chinese authorities have recently intensified a campaign against social media “rumor mongers” and the so-called Big Vs, or verified accounts by celebrities with a large number of followers, who are critical of the regime. Nationwide, hundreds have been arrested for online expression, and earlier this week, Beijing police detained Xu Manzi (薛蛮子), or Charles Xue, for soliciting a prostitute, but it’s clear to everyone that the millionaire, venture capitalist Chinese American living in Beijing was singled out for his regular comments on social issues and politics on Weibo, China’s equivalence of Twitter, in an effort to rein in similar accounts. For several days, CCTV hopped on the “news,”and the “moral degeneration,” of Xue’s actions in its primetime evening news.
This should come as no surprise for China watchers who are familiar with the Chinese Communist Party’s hysterical ideological crusade against democratic values and freedom of expression this year. For months, Chinese propaganda officials and mouthpiece media outlets have been revealing a deepening sense of crisis over social media’s lopsided public opinion against the party. The party’s anxieties, and sometimes outright hatred, are transparent in Document No. 9 (our post in May and NYT’s recent coverage), and more than one PLA generals referred to the social media as a battlefield that must be won back. In an article entitled Where China’s Challenges Are last year, the director of American Studies at the China Academy of Social Sciences named five categories of people as dangerous elements who want to overthrow the regime, and online opinion leaders as one category was among them. The five categories are: rights lawyers, underground believers, dissidents, online opinion leaders, and the disadvantaged members of the society. They were quickly referred to by netizens as the new five black categories (新黑五类) in a refrain from the “five black types” denounced during the Cultural Revolution. (The part about the five categories has since been removed from links to this article, but it has been widely noted.)
But in our Internet era, the spread of information is no longer linear and isolated and defies any dictatorial effort to block or to monopolize it. For that reason, the attempted clampdown has backfired. For the 1001st time, the Chinese government has succeeded in exposing its own perversity and arrogance, and here are the invincible Chinese netizens who are not afraid to tell the party what they think:
Anonymous: Those who submit to me shall be whores; those who resist me shall be johns. (顺我者娼，逆我者嫖娼. ) via @langzichn
(Readers who speak Mandarin, do enjoy this brilliant play on顺我者昌，逆我者亡 — “Those who submit to me shall prosper; those who resist me shall be put to death.”)
@余耕：August 2013 is the month of johns. In Shanghai, judges deny vehemently that they have solicited hookers; Li Tianyi’s mother insists that her son [accused of gang rape] had merely solicited a prostitute; as for Xue Manzi, he is a john regardless.
@majunpu: Given that the authorities put Xue Manzi on the Evening News while prohibiting coverage of Shanghai judges’ solicitation of sex services, one concludes that the small details of people’s lives are big, while big issues about the leaders are nothing.
@笔刀侠: Take a look at the overwhelming online support for Xue Manzi and you know that, in the eyes of the people, you are worse than a john. You’ve screwed it up, haven’t you? You’ll never get your way since you have lost the hearts and minds of the people!
@liushihui (rights lawyer): Xue Manzi was detained on the familiar charges of “soliciting a prostitute.” This is the second strike in the government’s clampdown on “rumor-mongering” following the arrest of Qin Huohuo. For any political dissenters, if the authoritarian government wants to get you, it will always be able to find the “appropriate charges,” and this is the case with all of the authoritarian regimes in the world.
@fqq1000: The way they are clamping down on the Big Vs is no difference from the way they persecuted the rightists (in the 1950s) and the capitalist roaders (in the 1960s). The Cultural Revolution is far from being over.
@审评1：Perhaps Xu Manzi will found a political party after he’s released. An enraged Chen Duxiu (陈独秀) established a party after being expelled from Peking University for soliciting a prostitute. What has followed you already know. (Chen Duxiu was the founder of CCP.)
@Business_trader: The cab driver said, “owing prostitution dues” is not convincing. Only your girlfriend will let you owe her prostitution dues.
@平壤作家崔成浩：I’ve always thought the Evening News is such a prig who only receives the state leaders, but last night she was screwed by a big-time john.
@Arctosia: Since a CCP branch must be established where there are three or more people, 3P is of course qualified for “assembling a crowd to engage in sexual promiscuity.”
@中央党校教授蔡霞 (Professor Cai Xia of the Party School of CCP): Xue Manzi was not apprehended in a place for commercial sex. Instead, he was apprehended on his own property. Also note, Xue Manzi didn’t admit he had solicited a prostitute until after he was detained. The question is: How did the public security and the informant do it, unless they had 24-hour surveillance? …… Who would still be able to have a sense of security?
Subversion by Way of Laughter, by Hu Ping
By Gao Yu, published: May 16, 2013
Walk through the recent ideology bugle call that accumulated in CCP General Office’s Document No. 9 in late April, and observe the mindset of Chinese leaders and their frantic effort to take control of public expression, with Beijing-based independent journalist and commentator Gao Yu. The “5 Nos” (五不搞) refer to what Wu Bangguo, then the chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, avowed in the 2011 NPC session.They are “no multi-party election, no diversification of guiding principles, no separation of powers, no federal system, and no privatization.”
The day after the Southern Weekend incident broke on January 3rd of this year, which stirred waves in China and beyond, a national conference of propaganda chiefs was held. Liu Yunshan (刘云山), the member of the Politburo Standing Committee in charge of propaganda and secretary of the Secretariat of the CCP Central Committee, attended the meeting and gave a speech. The Chinese media didn’t elaborate on it probably because Xi Jinping and none of the other standing committee members attended it. The Xinhua news agency had a short release, mentioning Liu Yuanshan’s speech and not much else.
Liu Yunshan’s Speech, “The Piercing Tip of a Wrapped Awl”
This propaganda tsar from Inner Mongolia was the head of the CCP’s propaganda department for the entire tenure of Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao’s ten-year reign. He is known for his talks of party platitude, and has not produced anything that could be called a signature speech.
Inside the system, the first denunciation of universal values came from Chen Kuiyuan (陈奎元), the president and party chief of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, in a speech he delivered during the academy’s reform seminar held on July 26, 2008. Five months later, the first issue in 2009 of the party’s Qiushi magazine (《求是》, or Seeking Truth) published Liu Yunshan’s speech “Looking Back and Looking Forward,” delivered on December 25, 2008 during a forum of the heads of the CCP’s national-level propaganda and cultural units. It was a “study and discuss” session for Hu Jintao’s speech during a conference commemorating the 30th anniversary of the third session of the 11th Central Committee of the CCP. In this speech, Liu Yunshan required the propaganda chiefs to “steadily push forward the construction of the socialist core value system, to better pull together spirit and qi, and to strengthen the foundations and roots.” “The socialist core value system,” he said, “is the essential embodiment of the socialist ideology and is the pillar of the contemporary Chinese people.” Liu’s highlighting the so-called “socialist core value system” was seen by many as a refrain of Chen Kuiyuan’s speech against universal values.
Now, six months into Xi Jinping’s “new reign,” what Liu Yunshan said before, by comparison, was nothing nearly as alarming as what he has been up to currently.
This year’s national conference of propaganda chiefs marks an ideological turning point from Hu’s time to Xi’s. Liu’s speech during that conference has not been published, but from the increasingly harsh media grip and internet censorship, we can feel Liu’s speech the way we can see “the piercing tip of an awl hidden in a bag.”
“Erecting Political Awareness” and “Three Loves”
According to Xinhua News’s report on the January conference, Liu Yunshan emphasized that, “to engage in propaganda of thoughts and culture in an environment of diverse social ideas and profoundly changed media landscape, [we] must erect political awareness, we must have the right stand, clear views, and firm attitude with regard to the party’s basic political path, issues of principles, and important guidelines and policies.”
What does “erecting political awareness” entail? Is it the same as “keeping in lock step with the Central Leadership” that we used to hear a lot during the Jiang Zemin era and the Hu Jintao era?
After the Two Sessions, the CCP Propaganda Department circulated, only orally, the main points of the national conference of the propaganda chiefs to national and regional media organizations across China. In an article appearing on a website called “Chinese Mainstream Culture Website”(中华主流文化网), an attendee leaked the five main points of the conference:
1. Uphold the mouthpiece theory [i. e. the media must be the mouthpiece of the Party];
2. Uphold Marxism, Leninism, Mao Zedong thought, and the theory of socialism with Chinese characteristics as guiding principles;
3. From now on, no anti-Marxism, anti-Leninism or anti-Mao Zedong thought are allowed to appear in media. The propaganda system will cleanse itself of “new three antis” personnel¹, or those who are anti-party, anti-state and anti-nationality[ 1] . These people will be removed if they don’t change their stand;
4. Strengthen the management of the media. Media practitioners must have clear-cut political stands, must have clear political brain, must uphold the principle of objectivity and truthfulness, and must be responsible to the society. Media cannot report negative news everyday all over their pages while ignoring the positive things; and
5. Strengthen the party’s leadership over the media. This has to start from the education of media practitioners, and those with “new three anti” tendencies are not allowed to teach journalism in universities.
Once leaked, these five points shocked many and invited heated argument online. Overjoyed Maoist websites re-posted the article, while liberals roundly condemned them.
On April 10th, the CCP’s two Hong Kong-based newspapers, Ta Kun Pao and Wen Wei Po, came out together to deny “rumors”: there had never been a “CCP propaganda work meeting,” and the so-called “new three antis” was a baseless rumor.
The next day though, on April 11th, the Red Flag Journal (《红旗文稿》), a subordinate publication of Seeking Truth magazine, published an article entitled Comprehensively Manage the Two Media Fields to Unite Positive Social Energy (read a complete translation here) by Ren Xianliang (任贤良), a deputy director of the Shaanxi Provincial CCP Propaganda Department and also a vice-chairman of the All-China Journalists Association (中国记协).The article belligerently called for tightened management of new media and occupying new fronts of public opinions, and was widely re-posted by Xinhua, People’s Daily and major gateway sites.
Ren Xianliang defined the internet-based new media and traditional state-owned media in terms of enemy vs. us. He believes that the emergence of blogs, microblogs and other forms of self-media has in effect demolished the Chinese government’s prohibition of private media and its ban on media exposé of events out of regional boundaries, and opened up a “micro-era” where everyone is a journalist. Personal media are “unfettered” and “uninhibited,” he argued, and they can exert influence as powerfully as a newspaper or a news agency. They not only challenge the fundamental principle that the party alone runs the media, he opined, they also lead to class divide and confrontation and damage the credibility of the government. Some forces “manipulate” online opinions, fabricate political “rumors,” viciously denigrate the image of the party and the state, and dismantle the foundation on which the party governs. He describes the Southern Weekend incident as “flagrantly challenging the party’s news media management system.” He called for internet censors to rein in more stringently those well-known online leakers, “Big V” Weibo accounts (verified accounts with a large number of followers), “warning them when warning is due, shutting them up when they should be shut up, and closing them down when it is called for.” Meanwhile, he proposed to “transform, sponsor and cultivate” a large number of opinion leaders who understand, recognize and support the guidelines and policies of the party and the state, and to influence and lead public opinions through them.
Ren Xianliang’s article in a way confirmed the existence of the “new three antis,” and it brought about another torrent of online backlash. Beginning from April 12, in an effort to silence the discussion, accounts were frozen or deleted, not just those of the critics, but also those of Ren Xianliang and Zhang Hongliang (张宏良, a Maoist intellectual). Phrases like “new three antis” and “traitor to the Han people” were censored.
The year of 2012 [with the saga of Bo Xilai and Wang Lijun] was a year when “rumors forced the truth out.” This time, the CCP’s Propaganda Department came out to “clarify” that there had been no such thing as the “new three antis.” Instead, it said that it had only talked about “three loves”: love the party, love the country, and love the nationality, and by “erecting political awareness,” Liu Yunshan meant the “three loves.” But the question is, how about those who are not adhering to the “three loves?” Do the three loves not in effect evidence the existence of the “new three antis?”
A big name from the People’s Daily revealed that the leadership of the paper had been informed of the key points of the national conference of propaganda chiefs which indeed included the phrase “new three antis,” an invention of China’s propaganda tsar.
On April 19, the world media was flabbergasted to learn that the Ta Kun Pao, the CCP’s paper in Hong Kong known for “quashing rumors” about mainland politics, had fabricated the false story of Xi Jinping riding Beijing taxi.
The Duowei website appealed in what sounds like an invocation: “Under the circumstances, it’s time for Xi Jinping to take action to transcend the boundaries of the left and right!”
In late April, the General Office of the Communist Party issued Document No. 9 to the county/military division level across the country. The document is called the Minutes of the 2013 National Conference of Propaganda Chiefs — Briefing on the Current Situation in the Field of Ideology with Liu Yunshan’s speech, in its entirety, attached to it. Documents of the CCP General Office are only second to those of the Central Committee, and they must be signed by the entire Standing Committee. So this is not just about Liu Yunshan anymore.
Document No. 9 is divided into three parts: 1) Situation, 2) Problems, and 3) Countermeasures.
The “situation” section summarized new achievements in the fields of propaganda, ideology and culture, such as “successfully promoting the spirit of the 18th Party Congress;” “promoting and reporting the new central leaders, with comrade Xi Jinping as the general secretary, who are collectively showing a high level of responsibility-bearing spirit to the nationality, the country, and the people; while working hard to rejuvenate the nation, empty talk will only lead the nation astray; showing the good work style and image of being vigorous and resolute, realistic and pragmatic, and making every effort to govern the nation well;” “receiving waves of praise from inside and outside of the party, making the masses and the cadres inspired with enthusiasm;” and “promoting the ‘Chinese Dream’ with great force.”
According to the Xinhua News Agency, Liu Yunshan proposed in his speech that “we must establish an awareness of problems, and ‘problems are the sound of the times.’ We must be good at discovering problems, bringing forth problems, facing problems directly, studying problems, and answering problems, positively setting into motion resolutions for the problems, and gathering the positive energy to propel development.”
So, what problems did the national conference of propaganda chiefs actually raise and directly face? It turns out they are even more startling than what was leaked online:
- The Concepts of Democracy and Constitutional Government: The goal of this is to overthrow the leadership of the Communist Party and subvert the political power of the state. The Southern Weekend incident was a brazen provocation.
- Universal Values: The core of this is to dispel the leadership of the party and force the party to make concessions.
- Civil Society: The main purpose of this is to establish new political forces outside of the party’s grass roots units.
- Neoliberalism: This is against the state exerting macroeconomic controls.
- Western Ideas of the Press: These ideas are against the “mouthpiece theory” that the party has consistently held fast to. They want (the press) to break free from the party’s leadership over the media and open things up, creating havoc for the party and society by stirring up public opinions.
- Historical Nihilism: This takes issue with the historical problems under the party leadership and disputes facts that have already been widely accepted. The most noted example is that it makes a great effort to disparage and attack Mao Zedong and Mao Zedong thought, negating the historical role that the CCP played during the period of Mao Zedong’s leadership. The goal is to whittle down, even overthrow, the legitimacy of the party’s leadership.
- Distortion of Opening and Reform: This criticizes the emergence of a bureaucratic bourgeoisie and state capitalism. It believes that that China’s reform is not thorough, and that only by carrying out political reform can economic reform be implemented.
The third section of Document No. 9 presents countermeasures:
1. Consolidate and strengthen positive, healthy, and progressive mainstream thinking and public opinions, spread the voice of the party and government, display the mainstream of the current society and reflect the aspirations of the people and the masses.
2. Educate everyone. Launch publicity education on socialism with Chinese characteristics, guide the whole party and whole society to further strengthen confidence in our path, confidence in our theory, and confidence in our system, and strive to realize the “Chinese dream” on this path of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
3. Strengthen the party’s leadership over the media, improve the compartmentalized accountability system, and be able to track down the individuals who are responsible for problems when they arise.
The Xi Era is Regressing Further than “Five Nos”
During the Hu Jintao administration, what received the most criticism was the “Five Nos” that Wu Bangguo avowed in 2011. There is little hope for political reform to occur in China, and there will be no economic reform either because political reform is a bottleneck for all reforms. Reforms by Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang in the 1980’s started from letting go of power and yielding on interests in all domains, but Xi Jinping not only wants to maintain stability, he also wants to strengthen the party’s leadership in all domains. The result of this can only be running in the opposite direction of reform. Single-mindedly seeking GDP increase and doubling growth will not reduce social frictions and environmental degradation; instead it will continue to worsen toward a tipping point. Domestic population dividends and the dividends of peace since the end of the cold war are rapidly disappearing, the price of raw materials is rapidly rising, and as the sociologist Sun Liping said, “the age of development with low costs has already passed, and we must welcome an age of development with high costs.”
The most serious issue with Document No. 9 is its outdated concepts. It is not a small, but a long regression from the Hu and Wen era. Hu and Wen at least kept in line with the third plenary session of the 11th CCP Central Committee that marked China’s opening-up more than thirty years ago. A leader without modern ideas cannot possibly have the vision required to lead. How is he going to cope in an age of development with high cost?
Alas, what a pity for China!
¹The “three antis campaign”: The anti-corruption, anti-waste and anti-bureaucracy campaign in early 1950s was one of a long string of political campaigns in China that targeted communist cadres who had become too close to capitalists from the previous era.
Gao Yu (高瑜) is an independent journalist and columnist based in Beijing. She used to work for China News Agency (中新社), and later was the deputy editor-in-chief of Economics Weekly (《经济学周报》, 1982-1989). She was twice imprisoned for her participation in the 1989 democratic movement. Drawing on her access to exclusive sources, she writes among other things about Beijing’s inner political circles, and her work is influential.
(Translation by ChinaChange.org)
This is a translation of a revised copy made available to ChinaChange.org. The original can be read here.