Wednesday, June 04, 2008

As the world remembers Tiananmen, the cadres are ready to repeat it

Nineteen years ago today, Communist China veered off the reform path cautiously set down by Party boss Zhao Ziyang, and followed the will of Central Military Commission Chairman Deng Xiaoping into the madness of totalitarianism once more. For every year since, anti-Communists and human rights campaigners (not mutually exclusive groups, by the way) have come together to remember the massacre of pro-democracy protesters in the square; they did so again today (Londonist via Boycott 2008).

Meanwhile, within Communist China itself, the cadres who run the Party - and thus continue to imprison that rich and proud nation - have remembered the lesson from June 4, 1989: get and keep control at all costs, no matter how many people die. This June 4, however, comes in the midst of the aftermath of the devastating Sichuan earthquake that left tens of thousands dead, and has now become all the more poignant.

The outside world has been bombarded with accounts of a "new openness" that has resulted from the quake, as if the ChiComs deserve praise for acknowledging what actually happened. Evern here, however, there was less than met the eye. The willingness to tell the truth about Sichuan has not included the school building that collapsed due to shoddy construction. In a normal society, this would lead to investigations of the builders, developers, and investors in these projects. In Sichuan, each and every one of the aforementioned groups are members or dependents of the Chinese Communist Party. Thus, the "open" regime has been silent on these.

Now, on this day of all days, the regime took it one step further - it has started arresting grief-stricken and mourning parents who simply want to know why this was allowed to happen (Washington Times, emphasis added):
Angry parents and even rescuers have pointed to steel rods in broken concrete slabs that were thinner than a ball point pen among the 7,000 classrooms that were destroyed.

Even worse, according to the BBC, "In some districts, schools were the only buildings to fall down in the quake."

Initially, the cadres had promised a probe, but "now appear to be backtracking" (BBC again). Parents of the victims have tried to file a lawsuit against local cadres - and this is where the police were brought in (Epoch Times):

Over 100 police were reported to have been stationed outside Dujiangyan People's Court in Sichuan province, where grieving parents have been presenting their cases regularly since the earthquake.

Policemen reportedly manhandled protesters and then dragged them away from the court. They also prevented parents from delivering their papers to the court.

For many parents, the particular focus is on Zhou Yongkang, who was Sichuan's provincial party boss from 1999 to 2002, when "several school buildings of shoddy quality were built" according to the Epoch Times (link above). Where is Zhou now? On the Politburo Standing Committee, the most powerful civilian political body in Communist China and the second-most powerful of any kind there (out-muscled only by the Central Military Commission). Once again, the license to steal that has been the hallmark of CCP membership is protecting the corrupt and connected at the expense of powerless people.

It becomes clearer with every passing day that the cadres indeed have the blood of the quake victims on their hands. We may never know how many children and others would have been spared but for the corruption that infested school construction then and is still rife throughout the regime today - and the Communists are determined to do anything to make sure those secrets are hidden.

In other words, nineteen years after the Tiananmen massacre, the cadres have made it abundantly clear they are ready to repeat it.

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