Pervasive Fear Caused by Tiananmen ProtestsPosted: March 28, 2012
Having read my last post “CCP’s Tiananmen Syndrome”, some people may ask, “Are conservatives in the Party really scared by Tiananmen to such a great extent? Are you exaggerating?”
(Excerpt from my book)
People who have not experienced the persecution or lived among the vast number of people who suffered from the persecution certainly cannot understand the extent of the pervasive fear throughout the Party.
Pervasive Fear of Capitalist Restoration
Commencing from late 1950s, hatred became the major theme of political indoctrination and people were taught to hate class enemy. That was the major cause of red guards’ and rebel workers’ cruelty in persecuting innocent people regarded as class enemy. On the other hand, there was intensified propaganda day by day about the terror of capitalist restoration, giving terrible accounts of the killing of communists during Hungarian Revolution of 1956 andIndonesia’s violent purge of communists. At that time, people frequently heard Party officials, red guards and rebels say, “We shall strike hard against class enemy to prevent a capitalist restoration. Otherwise millions of people will be killed.”
Mao wanted to restrict the number of people persecuted within a percentage of 5% to avoid having too many enemies, but as Party organizations collapsed, there was no one to restrain red guards and rebels. The percentage of people persecuted in urban areas for some reason or no reason at all exceeded 5% by far though at the end in order to reduce the number of the enemies of the regime, quite a few of those persecuted, beaten, robbed, denounced and humiliated were treated “leniently” without being labeled as enemies of the regime. Still they were discriminated against and told to do work other people did not want to do. Those unemployed were told to work at air-raid construction sites along with juvenile delinquents and paid 0.60 yuan (US$0.27 according to the official exchange rate then) a day. Their children were discriminated against at school.
For example, when all the workers were listening to the news on Mao’s death in a workshop of a printing and dying mill where I worked as a temporary worker for 2 months, the director of the workshop went around the workshop and told one by one those who had been denounced but not labeled as enemy of the regime including me to sit straight and behave ourselves. At that time I had worked in the mill for only a few days, still the workshop director knew that I had got a conclusion of having committed a serious political mistake without the label as an enemy of the regime. I was involved because my father was imprisoned for a non-existent counterrevolutionary crime.
What crimes those people have committed? Some had perhaps expressed their discontent of some of the Party’s policy. Others perhaps merely disobeyed their leader.
For example, a boy fell in love with a girl in his workshop and dated her, but the director of the workshop told the boy not to date the girl because he thought that the girl was too good for the boy. The boy openly told the director to mind his own business. The director was upset and told the militia to arrest the boy and imprisoned him in a vacuum flask factory to attend a study class for juvenile delinquents. At that time, I worked there as a temporary worker along with the boy and his co-prisoners in the study class who were receiving reform through labor there. His co-prisoners who were arrested for robbery, theft, illegal sex, gambling, etc. often teased him.
The robbers and thieves said that he was a fool that had dated the girl three times without ever holding her hand or kissing her. They said to him, “You shall join us and get some money to pay for a beautiful prostitute. Then you will enjoy the unforgettable sight of a naked girl and have wonderful sex with her. You will have nothing to lose. Even if you are caught, you will end up here just the same.”
Those who were arrested for illegal sex said that the boy was a fool and did not know how to handle a girl. They taught him how to make a girl willing to have sex with him. He should touch her here and there this and that way and kiss her in so-and-so manner, etc. “The girl will marry you when she has slept with you,” they said. “That is the shortcut to get a girl you like. Anyway there is nothing to lose. You will just end up here if anything goes wrong.”
I saw that the boy was honest and liked him. I told him not to listen to their nonsense. I said, “What you shall pursue is to have a wife and two children who love you all your life. That will be your long-term happiness.” The boy agreed to remain honest but when he returned to his workshop at the end of the study class a couple of months later, he was discriminated against as a juvenile delinquent until he was rehabilitated after the Cultural Revolution.
Those people’s pent-up hatred intensified due to the general atmosphere of hatred in the society. As for the 5% labeled as enemies, the regime robbed them of all their valuables and reduced their salary to 12 yuan per head inShanghai(even lower in other areas). They were beaten, denounced and humiliated without mercy. Quite a few of them died due to the prosecution. Their children were often involved and persecuted too. The total number of the persecuted, both the labeled and unlabeled, was very large. It at least exceeded 20% of the population inShanghai. There is no accurate statistics, but if all those who had some complaints such as being unemployed or sent to remote poor area to suffer from deprivation and poverty and whose family members were persecuted, the percentage might reach 50%.
As an experienced politician, Deng Xiaoping knew well the problem that may emerge when people’s pent-up hatred erupted. Therefore, soon after he returned to power after the Cultural Revolution, he had lots of those labeled or persecuted rehabilitated including almost all the rightists. In addition, he had the labels of enemy removed from all those who had not been rehabilitated. However, the scars of physical and mental injury remained.
The students’ protests atTiananmen Squaresoon spread to hundreds of Chinese cities and won the support of a huge number of citizens precisely because of the eruption of such hatred.
On the other hand, most of the persecutors who had not been Party members were admitted into the Party during the Cultural Revolution due to their merits in persecuting the “enemies” for Mao. Only a small number of notorious persecutors were punished and expelled from the Party when Deng Xiaoping returned to power. Naturally those who have persecuted others shudder at the mere thought of the possible revenge that the persecuted will take against them if the regime collapses. The persecution they will receive will be much fiercer than that they have rendered to the persecuted as revenge is usually excessive. Even Party members who have not persecuted any one fear that they may be killed, imprisoned, denounced, humiliated and otherwise persecuted as when the Party collapses, there is no other political force capable of controlling the situation and preventing China from falling into chaos.
Therefore, the panic given rise by Tiananmen is real and pervasive in the Party.
Note: This is not a fiction. It was what actually happened and was personally experienced or seen by me.