Three Represents: Marking the End of an Era

By Bao Tong

Essay obtained by reporters of The Asian Wall Street Journal and the Far Eastern Economic Review

Issue cover-dated September 05, 2002

Following is the English translation of Bao Tong's criticism of Jiang Zemin's Three Represents" -- the ideal that the Communist Party should focus on representing "advanced forces of production," or high-tech businesses and the private sector, "advanced culture," as well as "the fundamental interests of all the people," instead of representing the interests of farmers and blue-collar workers.

Mr. Bao was the closest aide to former Communist Party Secretary General Zhao Ziyang in the 1980s. Mr. Bao served seven years in prison for opposing the 1989 crackdown on student protesters in Tiananmen Square. He currently lives in Beijing under police surveillance.

Part One: Lucky for China or Lucky for the Communist Party?
The theory of Three Represents seems appealing, because all of the things it claims to represent are good things that people like. "Advanced productive forces," "advanced culture" and "interests of the majority of the people": all are among the best of things. Who wouldn't like them? After all, it is better to represent good things than to represent bad things, like corruption. It's no wonder Three Represents was so easily made into a milestone in the history of Marxist theory, after Marx, Lenin, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. Some even say it marks the beginning of a new era.

When Three Represents had just been born, I predicted, "The next Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Congress will approve the Three Represents ceremoniously, and re-write the CCP Charter." Two years have past, and Three Represents has indeed become the loudest note to be heard in China today. It is only a matter of time before it is entitled "China's main melody." I therefore submit the following commentary on the Three Represents as a continuation of my previous comments and as a greeting to the Sixteenth Party Congress.

What good fortune that these three great things in China have all chosen one political party to be their representative for eternity! Unbelievable as it is, I am not sure if this is fortunate for China or fortunate for the CCP. In other words, I am not sure if this is fortunate for the people or fortunate for their leaders. My commentary will focus on this point.

The Three Represents includes "advanced productive forces," "advanced culture" and "majority of the people" - concepts with packaging. My method of analysis is to lay bare the naked facts and to seek irrefutable answers from these facts.

Three Represents has several official versions, each of which includes the words or phrases: "always," "represent," "China," "advanced productive forces," "advanced culture" and "majority of the people." The word "always" means infinity of time. "China" defines the spatial limits: 9.6 million square kilometers. "Represent" defines the relationship between the representative as the subject and the represented as the object. These are clear, but the problem is in the other three concepts, which are vague and subject to interpretation.

Part Two: Do the "Representatives of the Three" Care About Workers?
According to common sense, workers are an undisputed priority in the "majority of the people" referred to by the Three Represents. The CCP came into being by representing workers. In the beginning, the CCP spoke up for workers. It led the workers to establish unions and organize strikes. In 1924, before the cooperation of the CCP and the KMT, the CCP was only a small party with 400 people. Only after several major workers' strikes did the CCP attract the attention of the people and of Sun Yat-sen. It is fair to say that it was the worker's movement that put the CCP onto China's political stage. After the CCP established itself as the ruling party, workers were rewarded with the title of "ruling class" and a low-waged "iron bowl." However, all of these things happened many years ago. The relationship between the CCP and workers has long changed.

"The Liberation" marks the point of change. Before the Liberation, the CCP worried that no one knew about the suffering of the workers, so it did its best to expose the injustices of the old society towards workers. After Liberation, the CCP worried that the world was unaware of how happy the workers had become under its rule, so it repeatedly proclaimed the benefits workers had gained, hoping to convince people that after Liberation, workers knew only happiness and suffered no more. Unfortunately, it simply is not so. The prohibition of the use of the term "unemployment" and the blocking of all news about unemployment does not change the reality that there are millions of unemployed workers in China. Aside from a few lines mentioned in the State Council's Work Report, there is very little information available to the public. Chinese newspapers report in detail the misfortunes of workers in other countries who have lost their jobs, but make no mention of the same matters in China. How many workers lost their jobs and how many factories were closed last month? How many workers were forced to take "early retirement" by the "Representative of the Three"? How many mining accidents happened nationwide? How many organized workers' protests were there? Who put their organizers in jail and who muted the mourning of their wives and daughters?

All of this is kept in utter secrecy. It is not only foreigners who are unapprised of this information - the Chinese people are also uninformed. This kind of news is neither released by the official union nor by the Ministry of Labor. The "Representative of the Three" not only fails to release the news, but also prohibits others from doing so. From these facts, it is obvious that the "Representative of the Three" who claims to represent the interests of the majority of the people, does not care about workers.

In the past, the CCP taught workers to stop following the KMT official union and to organize their own independent unions. The Jing Han Railway Strike of 1923 was a political strike against the curtailing of the rights to organize independent unions by warlord Wu Peifu. Now, after 50 years of being "liberated," workers have lost not only their right to organize independent unions, but also their right to protest and strike. Now if workers want to organize independent unions, their actions are labeled "splitting the working class" and must be abolished; if workers protest and strike, it is considered "rioting" and must be suppressed. Before the Liberation, whenever there was a strike, the CCP would be the first to broadcast the news nationwide. Now, the CCP is the one to stop any such news from spreading. Also whoever "leaks" the news is considered "anti-revolutionary" with foreign connections. Before Liberation, any foreign journalist who reported workers' strikes was regarded as a respected international friend. Today, they have all become hostile forces from overseas having the "intention of overthrowing the Chinese government." Who has changed? The workers? The journalists? Or, indeed, the CCP?

We must respect history and the facts. The communists of the past - such as Deng Zhongxia, Lin Xiangqian, Shi Yang and Xia Yan, who just died recently - all cared about workers. Today, the self-pointed "representatives" sing out loud "the workers are powerful," but in their hearts they are only concerned about "how to always be the representative." It is this lust that blinds their eyes, occupies their minds and corrupts their hearts. In order to brag about being "good representatives," they conceal the truth, trample on the workers' right to organize unions, suffocate the voices of workers, and are prepared to crush any economic and political demands of the workers. That is how they "represent" the workers. As for how they actually represent peasants, culture and productive forces, let's continue to look at the facts.

Part Three: What Do the Landless Peasants Get?
And what about the peasants?
There has been an endless supply of "folk songs" describing Mao Zedong as the father of the peasants, as though the CCP bestowed the greatest of benefits upon peasants. But when it comes to benefits, it has been quite the contrary: peasants have given the greatest of benefits to the CCP. Mao owes the peasants of China so much, it is immeasurable.

Who conferred power upon Mao? Just as with the first emperors of the Han and Ming Dynasties and the "Heaven King" of the Tai Ping Rebellion, power came from rebelling peasants. Mao Zedong led the CCP in battles that lasted several decades. Where did the soldiers come from for these battles, and from where the supplies? Who conveyed the supplies into the hands of the soldiers? These all came from the peasants. The power of the CCP rose out of a peasants' war. Without peasants, Mao Zedong would not be Chairman Mao: he would be nobody.

Why were the peasants willing to help the CCP? Because the CCP made grand promises to the peasants. They said they would take land from the landlords and deliver them to the peasants. So, did the peasants end up with the land? No. Peasants followed Mao and participated in his revolution - starting in Hunan and spreading throughout China - from the 1920s to 1940s. Then it seemed that the land was indeed given to the peasants, but it soon disappeared, as though by the hands of a magician. Where had the land gone? It was taken back by the CCP in its programs of collectivization, people's communes and socialization. In fact, even before having given the land to the peasants, Mao had already made up his mind to take the land back from them. He said, "The serious problem is the education of the peasants." So, to teach the peasants, Mao used the socialist principle that everything belongs to the state. No wonder all the corrupt socialist officials do not spend their own money: they only spend the people's money. Socialist land does not belong to those who farm; all of it belongs to the state, which does not farm. It has been more than forty years now that Chinese peasants have farmed without land. They lost the land, but got instead the sweetest sounding of serenades: socialist principles. It was said that by doing so, peasants would no longer have to suffer or be humiliated. It was said that land ownership was a dirty thing. No wonder the peasants are clean, while the collectives, governments and the state are more or less corrupt! The "representatives" of peasants have become the new landlords, using the credentials of the landlords to exercise the power to "designate and lease." They "designate and lease" lands to the rich, and wealth flows from these leased lands. But the poor peasants have gotten nothing, and are excluded from the growth of mainstream society. These are the facts of today, hidden from no one. If you ask who has gained in the supposed "interests of the majority of the Chinese people," only those "representatives" like Chen Xitong or Cheng Kejie know the answer. In any case, it's not the peasants.

The relationship between the land and the peasants in China has been convolutedly maneuvered by the CCP. It is indeed special, to be found nowhere else. On the one hand, the CCP says the peasants claimed the land from the landlords. On the other hand, the CCP had the state take that land from the peasants. The land is no longer owned by peasants, but the state insists that the peasants must remain and depend on the land. On the one hand, all of the strenuous, dirty and dangerous jobs depend on peasants - the city of Beijing would be a dead city without them. On the other hand, peasants who come into the city are labeled by the PSB as "roaming hooligans," upon whom the state exercises their powers of detention, labor and other punishments. Everyone saw that the chief of all the "representatives," Mao Zedong, indeed had the power to travel anywhere, at his will; there was even a poem written by a celebrity historian that attests to this: "As Chairman Mao travels all over the country, the rivers and mountains become blissful." However, the peasants who are "represented" have no freedom of migration. Whenever there are unfortunate events like campaigns to "catch roaming hooligans," it is not the chief eternal representative - such as Mao - but the represented themselves who suffer the consequences: arrests, detention, forced labor and other punishments.

This is the situation with the rights of the vast majority of the people in China!

Part Four: Everybody Enjoys the Right To Be Ruled by the CCP
I'd like to mention two events here, both of which happened in Anhui.

In Feng Yang County, there is a village called Xiao Gang that was a production unit during the era of communes. In 1978, all of the twenty farming families defiantly resisted the policy of Peoples' Communes. They wanted to divide the land between the families, but were afraid of being punished by the CCP. Struggling to survive, the peasants still decided to take the risk. One day, they risked their lives by holding a secret meeting at midnight - hidden from the party and the government - where they put seventeen fingerprints and three seals on a land division contract. This is a true story that was not revealed until after Reform had started, when it became a nice tale to tell. Unfortunately, the lesson to be learned from this story was reduced to a policy debate over "central planning vs. assigning land to each family," as though the CCP's relationship with the peasants hinged solely upon this particular policy and once the CCP allowed peasants to contract land to each family the peasants would be "liberated," and the CCP's relationship with the peasants would be eased.

But in fact, Xiao Gang village is a microcosm of the whole of China. The significance of their story goes far beyond the boundaries of its village, its county and its province. The issue of whether or not to allow individual farming units exemplifies the relationship between the CCP and peasants, surpassing in significance the policies of communes, agriculture structure or economic structure. The relationship is exactly what the CCP intended: that the people must obey, whenever and wherever, to this day. To "lead" is the right of the CCP; to "obey" is the right of the people. Those in the world who enjoy freedom from fear may not be able to appreciate why peasants would experience so much trepidation over something like how they organize their farming. But the Chinese people - who have no such freedom from fear - understand: disobeying the orders of the CCP can be disastrous, resulting in severe consequences. Those in the world who enjoy civil rights may not understand how a political party could have the right to punish citizens at will. The people of China - whose rights have been trampled upon by the CCP - understand: "The 'Representative of the Three' rules everything" is China's most sacred, most encompassing and most powerful doctrine. What is the highly touted "Chinese character"? This is the number one "Chinese character"!

In 1978, the problem was whether to assign land for farming to each family. The peasants in Xiao Gang were lucky: they were supported by the provincial CCP secretary Wan Li. Before this, in 1959, there was another struggle in Anhui, a problem with the Public Kitchens. Mao Zedong had had an adventurous idea: he had decided to tell peasants how to eat. He himself stayed at home in his palace to eat in privacy, but insisted that the country's 600 million peasants eat in Public Kitchens. However, there was not enough food and people went hungry. The deputy provincial governor of Anhui, Zhang Kaifan, could not bear to see the suffering continue, so he supported the dismantling of the Public Kitchens in Wu Wei County. He was reported to Mao by the Anhui CCP's First Secretary Zheng Xisheng at the Lu Shan Conference while Mao waged a campaign against Peng Dehuai. Mao personally labeled Zhang Kaifan a "right wing opportunist." Zhang Kaifan was miserable, the peasants were miserable, and so were the cadres: all peasants were forced back to the Public Kitchens to starve. Those who sympathized with the peasants were all punished. I worked on a farm for half a year in Wu Wei County in 1958, and I know how the county and provincial Party Commission Secretaries disregarded human lives by "launching satellites" (a nickname for forging astronomically high food production records). This resulted in higher quotas of grain to be handed to the state. Between the large numbers who fled and those that died of starvation, Wu Wei County's population plummeted from over a million in 1958 to less than 700,000 in 1960.

The specific problems have changed, but the principles have not. As long as the principle stands that the CCP leads everything, civil and political rights will not be realized in society, not to mention the rights of peasants who are on the bottom rungs. In 1959, the CCP dictated how you were to eat: at home or at the Public Kitchen. In 1978, the CCP ordered you how to work: collectively or individually. Today, the CCP dictates other similar things: whether to offer more candidates than positions in a cadre election, how many children one can have, what area to restrict one's travel to in the countryside or - under certain conditions - to generously expand the area to include some cities, what mass gatherings are allowed, what kind of qigong one can practice, etc. As to what restrictions are coming tomorrow, "Mind your own business," you will be told, "All you have to do is obey unconditionally." Anyway, the "Representative of the Three" are busy, and every day they are studying hard how to maintain control, which includes control over how people live their lives. Seeing as how the "Representative of the Three" are willing to take responsibility for controlling everything, the people of China should be grateful that everyone enjoys the right "to be controlled by the CCP!"

Part Five: Those Who Were Crushed in the June 4th Movement Have the Highest Credentials to Represent the People
Student movements, worker movements and peasant movements are alike in that they have all been used as tactics by the CCP against the KMT. But a group of students is different from a group of workers or peasants, in that it is made up of people who have come from various levels of society, so they are a reflection of the whole society. They serve the dual roles of being the brave frontrunners in their own class as well as the rational and sympathetic communicators and speakers for different classes. In a China without democracy, the sentiment of students has always been a barometer of the political climate, no matter whether it was under the repressive KMT in the past or the CCP of today. Whatever cause could mobilize the students must represent the focus of the society at that time.

From April 15th to June 4th in 1989, the peacefully demonstrating students and all those who sympathized with them trustingly conducted what became the saddest opinion poll in Chinese history. At this time, the people of China expressed a common will to end totalitarianism, to exercise democracy and eliminate corruption. Fifty days of demonstrations ended in a bloody crackdown by the party, the government and the army. Not only were the lives of the students and residents of Beijing trodden upon, but the will of the people, the principles of democracy and the constitution. Some people say that the crackdown has now been forgotten, but has it really? Those who suffered have not forgotten, those who benefited have not, those who opposed it have not and those who supported it have not. Even those Chinese who were not yet born at the time, as long as they still live under a regime of totalitarianism and corruption, whenever they do get a glimpse of what freedom is, they will again be reminded of this tragedy of an entire race.

Of those who still defend the "reasonableness" and "lawfulness" of the June 4th crackdown, what right do they have to claim to be the representatives of the majority of the people? They do not represent the workers, the peasants or the students. Liu Shaoqi once told a story at the CCP's Mid-China Bureau: he knew a guy who was in the habit of bragging that he was a person of good conduct (hui zuo ren). But he constantly quarreled and fought with his father, his wife, his brothers and all his friends. Liu asked him, "If you aren't a good son, a good husband or a good friend, how can you be a person of good conduct?" The supposition is that one cannot be "a person of good conduct" without the essence of being one. It reminds one of the Three Represents of today: it does not represent workers, peasants or students, even though it claims to represent the "majority of the people." Since the "majority" includes nobody, the "representative" must be a fake.

Magicians must use diversions in order to perform their tricks. Those who make empty promises must play with concepts in order to succeed. Identifying specifically which social groups and what interests is relatively difficult; if handled improperly, it might reveal one's true colors. Proclaiming generally that one "represents the interests of the majority of the people" not only sounds grand, but is also easy, empty and mysterious.

Part Six: Who Qualifies To Be a Book and News Inspector for the "Eternal Representative of Advanced Culture?"
What exactly is "advanced culture"? Is the Party "eight-legged" considered "advanced culture"? How about the "Literary Inquisition"? Or the "Red Treasure Read Daily"? What about "bonanza and beauty"? And what of the "dream of Huang Liang" or the Tower of Ling Yan? Is it to be found in the hum of tanks or the blood of the brave? Is it in the anthem of the emperor or in the cries of the miserable? Is it in a forced and hollow eulogy, or the ingeniousness of the Emperor's New Clothes?

What is "the progressive direction of advanced culture"? Is it pointed out by the unchallengeable orthodoxy or by the offensive and punishable heresy? Is it up towards the paramount summit or down where the ocean embraces every river on earth? Is it found in the Ethics of Confucius, the Way of Lao-Tzu or the Elucidation of Hsun-Tzu? Is it in the Mercy of Buddha or the Love of Jesus? Is it found through debate and tolerance with reason, or by applying the philosophy of class struggle to rupture the bonds of traditional wisdom?

What we have in front of us is another grand and empty contention. Those who declare themselves as "always representing the progressive direction of advanced culture" have placed themselves in an awkward position and done no less than declare themselves the embodiment of absolute truth. Chinese culture stretching three thousand years into the past and tens of thousands of years into the future: the extent of all of this is to be "always represented" by a political party? Is this meant in all seriousness? How could such a pledge possibly be realized?

It seems an impossibility, doesn't it? But in reality, it is quite easy! To fulfill such a duty - one never before attempted in history - the CCP need only set up a network of several thousand news and book inspectors in the Chinese bureaucracy. Who qualifies to be an inspector? That's easy, too: haven't you ever heard the saying "idiots lead the experts"? Hire those who never read, but are smart enough to know exactly what the leaders want. If the leaders say, "We lean in this direction!" then Mendel-Morgan's Theory of Genetics must be wrong since it was "disproved" by Michurin's dialectical-materialistic biology; and anyway, it endangered China's national security. If the leaders say, "Three gorges dam should be built," then data and conclusions that suggest otherwise are surely heterodoxy. Lu Xun published "Commemorating Miss Liu He Zhen" under a regime of warlords; would he today be permitted to commemorate June 4th under the leniency of the Ministry of Propaganda? Edgar Snow interviewed the Red Army under KMT rule; would he now be able to interview the mothers of the victims of June 4th? It's fortunate that "Commentary on Prussia's Recent Order of News and Book Inspections" was written in Prussia in 1842, otherwise, under the leadership of the CCP in the People's Republic of China, what fate would Comrade Marx face today? In any case, all answers can be found in the leaders' intentions and the news and book inspector's "Guide to Advanced Culture."

The declaration to "always represent the progressive direction of advanced culture" is a synonym for "always insist on the policy of news and book inspections." Aside from those who thought themselves supermen and created the practice of the "Literary Inquisition," no one could hope to possess the ability to "always represent the progressive direction of advanced culture." The phrase "practice tests out the truth" was used in the political struggle against Hua Guofeng that ended Mao's era. Today, "news and book inspectors are the judge of truth" is being put in practice to defend the existence of the "Four Principles" (Marxism, Socialism, CCP Leadership and the People's Dictatorship). Any facts or theories that the leaders are afraid to make public are considered part of an evil culture and must be annihilated completely. Only in this way can the leaders maintain their authority, and only so can "stability" be made to overshadow everything else. The full might of the party and the state must be used to protect this doctrine. As for all culture - no matter if it is Chinese or foreign, advanced or not advanced - the matter of whether or not something should be made available to the Chinese people is decided by the news and book inspectors. This policy and the policy of keeping peasants away from the cities are both "advanced" policies designed by the "Representative of the Three."

I sincerely do not know what "the progressive direction of advanced culture" is. However, what I do know for certain is that independent thinking and freedom of expression are the lifeblood of culture. I know for certain that a "policy of obscurantism" will, without fail, create a culture of uniformity and censorship. I also know for certain that the Court of Inquisition was not in the "progressive direction of advanced culture," nor was the "Literary Inquisition," the "Wipe Out Poisonous Weeds Campaign," the "Anti-Rightist Movement" or the "Eliminate Demons and Evil Heresy Campaign."

Part Seven: Culture Through Representation Can Only Be Lifeless Fossils
In the past 50 years, Chinese culture has experienced periods of central planning and periods of market control. But through it all, censorship of books and news media (and now the Internet) has always determined the orientation of all cultural existence. At all levels of party administration, there are Propaganda Departments with sharp and vigilant advisors, numerous as meteoroids. Under these departments are research institutes, publishing houses, movie studios, TV stations, jamming waves and firewalls. Aside from these, there are watchdogs placed in schools, theaters companies, literary associations and bookshops. With such a tight system in place to monitor and control, the "advancement" of party/state culture is palpable though tacit. The best selling is perhaps the "culture of laughter," which delights all the bureaucrats; the most orthodox is the everlasting "mainstream culture," which consists of the pretentious "culture of face-saving," the truth-twisting "culture of swindling" and the lulling "culture of anesthesia." The accompanying melody is a "Fantasia" that is continuing and progressing: the first movement was the "supremacy of class struggle," already come to a close; the second movement was the "supremacy of socialism," which faded gradually away; and the third movement is the "supremacy of the Chinese State," which is just now reaching a climax. What is next? Don't know, and don't need to know. Just wait for orders, watch the direction pointed out by the "Representative of the Three" and hasten to occupy the fortresses!

Dependent upon the guidance of censorship, can a country grow strong and experience a cultural renaissance? Perhaps Adolph Hitler had such ambitions, but there is no such record in Chinese history.

There have been at least two golden periods during which culture flourished in China. One was in ancient times: the era of the Spring & Autumn and Warring States. At that time, many big and powerful states co-existed, all consumed with strategy and diplomacy, attacking and defending. None of them had the energy to represent advanced culture or to strike out at backwards culture. This state of affairs created the possibility for various schools of thought to develop independently and communicate freely, resulting in several hundred years of debate. We have benefited to this day, and it is because of this boom that China is considered a country with a magnificent ancient civilization. This period was followed by the unification of China. The First Emperor burned books and buried scholars alive, and the Wu Emperor of the Han Dynasty imposed Confucianism exclusively. They spoiled the one remaining school, and slaughtered all the others. These two laymen with not-so-low IQ's also wished to "represent" Chinese culture, using their privileges as emperor. They both failed. Several thousand years later, they were to be disparaged by Mao Zedong as "lacking literary talent" and merit.

The second golden period started nearly a century ago. After the Xin Hai Revolution in 1911, the emperor was no longer functional, but chaos and fighting continued. There were endless wars, not only against Japanese invaders, but also among warlords and political parties. Those who battled for domination depleted their resources in controlling the barrel of the gun, giving culture a rare opportunity to revive. It lasted less than forty years, but the repercussions were significant. This recovery encouraged the spirit of independent thinking and open communication between different schools of thought. It was like removing the cover from the well in Ye Lang, and gave the Chinese people a glimpse of modern civilization. The source of much of China's modern culture can be traced to the seeds of fire delivered from the West by the Prometheuses of those times. After that, as we all know, Mao unified the country and became its patriarch. He was an omniscient genius, so he personally led the "representation" of culture. He dealt with culture as though it were a battle: here were the frontlines and there the barricades; if the proletarians did not occupy, the bourgeoisie would. He saw the historical mission to capture and strengthen the cultural barricades as having fallen upon his political party. This political party, under the name of "let a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thoughts contend," practiced a whole new style of kung fu for wiping out "poisonous weeds," and did so 365 days a year, never tiring. Mao Zedong periodically mobilized the masses to participate in wipeout campaigns in their spare time. Through the years and in the hands of professional culture inspectors, such campaigns have evolved into a high-tech, high-intensity "alarm system."

Culture is alive in the spirit of independence and unfettered thoughts. Like a small blade of grass under a stone, it knows for itself how and in which direction to seek light. It does not need to be "represented." What kind of "advanced culture" is represented by the censorship of news, books and Internet? I have no idea, but they can only be lifeless fossils.

Part Eight: The Parasitical Relationship Between the Basis of Power and the Source of Wealth
Of the three "represents," the most meaning should be found in the declaration to "always represent the demands of advanced productive forces."

What is "advanced productive forces"? Only bookworms look for answers in classic theories, for those answers are useless. A more meaningful answer can be found in the reality of the business world. Any person in the marketplace can tell you that, according to their experience, "advanced productive forces" are with the da-kuan. All the da-kuan in China will tell you that they are the advanced productive forces. Every province, city, county and town has big taxpayers favored by party and government leaders. They are the financial supporters of these leaders and certainly represent "advanced productive forces" at the local level. To "represent the demands of advanced productive forces" is a formal political expression; translated into laymen's terms, it should be: "represent the interests of the da-kuan." It is that simple; it does not necessarily have any deeper or loftier philosophical meaning than that.

The history of China in the past 50 years has been a history of the inflation of bureaucracy. It is no wonder, since the CCP shoulders such an unprecedented task of monitoring and controlling everything. People need to get government permission for everything, and the government needs to get direction and inspection rules from the Party. Gong Zizhen of the mid-Qing Dynasty complained about the expansion of bureaucracy: "The number of bureaucrats is growing faster than the weeds in spring time: there are now five times as many as in the Jin and Yuan Dynasties, and ten times as many as during the Ming." In fact, compared to what exists today, the bureaucracy of the Qing was small potatoes. There are tens of thousands of CCP and government establishments nationwide. Above the central government is the Central Committee of the CCP and its Central Military Commission. Underneath, there are 30 provinces together with several thousand counties and tens of thousands of villages and townships. All of them have CCP branches on top of the local governments. None of the CCP cadres are paid out of Party membership fees; all are paid through taxpayers' money.

Under the KMT, the basic government branches were at the county level. After the CCP came to power, the basic government branches went down to the township level. Before the Great Leap Forward, each township could barely afford a few full time cadres. Today, each township has cadres numbering in the hundreds. More people need to be supported, leaving less people to participate in production. The fixed basic salary of cadres comes out of the central government's budget, but benefits and bonuses depend on local resources, normally amounting to more than their basic salaries. The richer the area, the better the extras. These all come from "advanced productive forces." Therefore, contributions from the big taxpayers at the county and township level have a direct impact on cadres' incomes and the ability of the local CCP and government branches to pay for extra expenses. The base of power and the source of wealth have become dependent upon each other, forming a mutually parasitic relationship between power and wealth.

The union of power and money in China originates, of course, from the government being all-powerful in controlling the marketplace. It is a legacy from Mao's era. "Workers, peasants, merchants, students and soldiers: the CCP leads all." In the shift from central planning to market economy, there is one thing that has not changed with everything else: CCP leadership. Without this inheritance of the bureaucracy controlling the markets, there would be no such relationship.

Let's take a big step back and assume for the moment that there were no corrupt officials like Chen Xitong or Cheng Kejie, no case of Yuan Hua and no Bank of China scandal; that all CCP cadres were like the communist heroes Lei Feng and Jiao Yulu; that all of the wealth flowed into the proper government agencies and nothing was ever dishonestly embezzled by individuals. If this unadulterated and fantastic condition could be realized, could the union of power and money be acceptable and exist without corruption?

In fact, if all revenue belonged to the government, under such "normal" circumstances, the deals between money and power could be put on the table and entered into in an even more unbridled and brazen fashion. If a particular township's big taxpayer were making fireworks, supporting locally-made gunpowder for fireworks would be the urgent need for their Three Represents. If a certain county's big taxpayers produced counterfeit liqueur, cigarettes or medicines, then that county's policies would need to be lenient towards counterfeit production. If a city's big taxpayer were in the smuggling business, then supporting smuggling would need to be included the Three Represents, and their policies would have to be lenient towards smuggling. All of this is logical and does not need to be taught, as it is common sense. As a result, whatever favors the rich asked of the leaders in the CCP and the government could all be considered "the demands of advanced productive forces." These demands could include the leasing of lands, low interest loans, and the violation of labor laws, environmental laws, contract laws and intellectual property laws. Furthermore, they could include releasing phony news, presenting false evidence, protecting the rich and sponsoring lawsuits. Each and every one of the above could be among the "demands of advanced productive forces." All the demands of the rich could be met and justified under the name of "representing the demands of advanced productive forces," flawlessly and without the burden of guilt to one's conscience. Therefore, if everyone in China were a saint, the union of power and business would still end in corruption, corruption, always corruption!

Each of the Three Represents has its uniqueness: "always represent the majority of the people" is an empty promise; "always represent China's advanced culture" is a lie; but "always represent China's advanced productive forces" (that is: "always serve the needs of da-kuan") is indeed a true statement. Unfortunately, this does nothing to serve the common people. It is simply the wedding processional of the marriage between the base of power and the source of money. In the wake-up calls to "serve the practical needs" from top down in the government, the realization has always been more efficient when serving the rich. This is a known merit of the administration and should not go unrecognized.

Part Nine: Who Is Going To Represent the Disadvantaged Groups Excluded from Advanced Productive Forces?
We already took a giant step back to imagine what things would be like if all China's cadres were saints. Now let's go even further back and imagine China were a classic socialist society without the union of power and wealth. Under such conditions, could the CCP, which leads everything, "represent advanced productive forces" and would this be ultimately a good thing for the people and the country?

It sounds like a nice idea, but is quite flawed if you think about it. If the Olympic Committee did not represent the interests of all athletes, but only represented gold metal winners, would that be a good thing? If the Ministry of Education only represented post-doctoral programs but ignored elementary education and the elimination of illiteracy, would it be an effective organization? How can the Chinese state be equated with advanced productive forces? Even Mao Zedong, who liked making empty promises, did not forget the backwardness of China. Being economically underdeveloped is the reason used by China to request lower membership dues to the United Nations and lower standards for joining the WTO. No member of the central leadership of the PRC has ever renounced the assessment that China is underdeveloped. "Not-so-advanced" productive forces describes the majority in China. If the CCP, who leads everything, declares itself responsible for "advanced productive forces," then what about the majority of productive forces?

Forces of production are among the most dynamic elements of society. There are no productive forces that "do not demand growth," advanced and backward alike. Whether something is advanced or not should be determined by market competition. The problem of allocating resources and market shares among different productive forces should also be left to the forces of market competition; it really should not involve the preferences of the Three Represents. All conflicts should be resolved under the impartiality of the law, not by Three Represents. Under the influence of Three Represents, the advanced productive forces benefit, but the non-advanced productive forces suffer. In any case, what a referee of a ping-pong game wouldn't do, the supreme power that leads everything should also not do. Under a one-party authoritarian regime, a thing as bad as the Great Cultural Revolution, or as good as "productive forces" - whatever it is, so long as it is represented by the Party, is bound to develop a malignancy. Yet, it faces extinction if not supported by the Party, as in the current sweeping away of Beijing's internet cafés. Preferential treatment will do harm even to the "advanced." There have been countless negative lessons under the direction of the CCP, during times of both central planning and market economy.

A serious consequence is the widening social gap. For many years, all matters in China have been arranged by the CCP. Who is assigned to participate in advanced productive forces and who is not, is decided by CCP administration at all levels. Those who possess advanced productive forces are in the minority, while those who do not are in the majority. Today, the fortunate few who possess the means of advanced production become the most admired of society, while those who are excluded from the means of advanced production become the disadvantaged. Under such circumstances, the CCP controls everything but has suddenly declared that it only represents advanced productive forces. As for those less advanced, "Sorry, from now on, you are no longer represented." How shocking this must be!

For a common man, likes and dislikes are a matter of personal taste, but governments must act upon reason and responsibility. In the economic pyramid, the high-tech sector on top is indeed impressive and appealing compared to the people with ordinary skills and the traditional business sectors at the bottom, but the latter still form the foundation. As the rich and strong become all-powerful, who will represent the helpless disadvantaged? How can the several hundred million rural peasants be associated with advanced production? How many jobless workers in sunset industries will be fortunate enough to join in advanced production? For these people, today is already hard; where is their hope for tomorrow? And what of hope for their children's futures? How can such a society be stable? Who is going to take responsibility for the consequences of this ever-growing social inequity?

Part Ten: Party Politics and a System of Representation are Incompatible With Totalitarianism
Up to now, I have been letting facts speak for themselves. The CCP did indeed represent workers once, but has long since changed and no longer cares about the suffering of workers. The CCP depended on the peasants to win the civil war and come into power, yet still leaves peasants at the bottom of society, where they are regarded as inferior everywhere and have no property rights, no civil rights and not even basic personal rights. The 50 days of peaceful protest led by students in 1989 and centered in Tiananmen Square were an exercise in civil rights that should have been protected under the constitution, an expression of the people's demand to end corruption and a call for democracy for all people. This movement was crushed by several old guards of the CCP using hundreds of thousands of troops. How could those who crack down on the people be representatives of the people? Since the CCP has come into power, it has always practiced the policy of news and book inspections. It has put together literary inquisitions, obliterated independent thinking and free-spiritedness, and has therefore no legitimacy to represent the progressive direction of Chinese culture. The CCP abandons those that are disadvantaged, in the name of "representing advanced productive forces," and has created a system which joins money to power. For all these reasons, "always representing the majority of the people" is an empty promise, "always representing advanced culture" is a lie, and "always representing advanced productive forces" is a euphemism for the union of money and power.

This is the reality. But since "theoreticians" play only with theory and look down upon mere facts, they may not necessarily be convinced. All right then, for the sake of their edification, let's use reason (and all of it, basic common sense) for this discussion.

The term "representation" comes from pluralistic societies and is used to describe party politics. There are many groups in society, each with distinct interests and opinions. Inevitably, there will be discord and clashes between them. Nevertheless, they must coexist, lest they perish together. The minority cannot be separated from the majority, but must comply with the will of majority. The majority cannot be separated from the minority, but must protect the interests of the minority. All social groups that form their own parties and select their own representatives must abide by the constitution and laws as a starting point for bargaining. No party or representative should be permitted to act without constraint, and all parties should voice their concerns and protect their own interests through lawful procedures. The role and responsibility of the system is to resolve conflicts between the various interest groups in a pluralistic society. This allows all forces in a society to coexist and operate with restraint. This is the heredity of party politics.

Political parties and representation are all the result of democracy and are the instruments of democracy. From Nazism and fascism, we have learned that a political party that intends to practice authoritarianism is a false political party. From Bin-Laden of the "Al-Qaida," we have learned that a self-appointed and exclusive representative is a bogus one. Domination needs to stay covered from the truth; only open competition can result in transparency. The merits of political parties and representation can only be enjoyed through democratic processes. If the CCP is interested in being a real representative, it must allow competition; it should not be afraid and suppress competition. Qualified and capable leaders should assume power or step down through legitimate contests. While in the administration, one should be constantly monitored and challenged. The so-called "leading party" and "being-led-party" is a joke; having only one leader for an entire generation is also a joke. All this is common sense, and Chinese have understood these things since the beginning of last century. There was a saying then: "A party without other parties is the idea of an emperor; a party without factions is out of the ordinary." These few words summarized the ABCs of party politics and reflected the consensus of the Chinese people after the Xin Hai Revolution and the May 4th Movement. Unfortunately, though Mao Zedong supported these words in the beginning, he later degenerated and concerned himself with the eccentric contemplation of emperors.

Louis XIV's "L'etat c'est moi"(I am the state) is history long past, but "The Party is the state" is still a reality in China today. In a democratic system, the party and state are separate entities. A party can represent the leftwing or the proletarian class, but a state should never carry out "anti-rightist campaigns" or "anti-bourgeois liberalization campaigns." Moreover, it should not be so in China, because it is illegal: the unwavering constitution solemnly declares that "all citizens of the People's Republic of China are equal under the law." Leftwing or rightwing, bourgeois or proletarian, all are citizens and all should be protected by the state. The value of a state is in its fairness and its protection of all citizens without discrimination or differentiation by class division or beliefs. The "state" that represents only part of the citizens, not all, does not have the legitimacy to be called a state. All political parties must operate according to the law. The party in power must implement the responsibility of the state: it is the party's primary responsibility. All policies must comply with the law. Policies may tend to be leftwing, but the law itself must be impartial, otherwise the state cannot be a called a state. Breaking the law is suicidal for a political party, since it makes itself an unlawful party and loses the public trust. Taking sides with one against the other is an attitude of hostility, not a legal action and therefore not the proper behavior of a state. None of these problems exist in democratic politics, but they are the serious troubles of a party-is-state totalitarian regime.

Practicing party politics and a system of representation were originally good things. However, they are intrinsically incompatible with totalitarianism. The situation of the party being above the law of the state must end, and a democratic system must be established. The party with the ambition to forever represent good things should not be ignorant of this, which is just basic common sense.

Part Eleven: Under the State of the First Emperor, It Doesn't Matter With or Without Representation
The trouble is not with the "representation," but with the fundamental institution of one party rule. With one party rule, it doesn't matter whether there be three "represents" or three thousand.

It is inconceivable that in a society of such variety that one party rule should be insisted upon as its "characteristic." It is even more puzzling that in an obviously single-power structure, the game of "representation" be played.

In the novel Family written by Ba Jin, Grandfather Gao takes control of everything. Junior masters obey the senior masters, and all masters obey the grand master. Quite simple, was it not?

The state that was created by the First Emperor also denied pluralism. Nationwide, among all classes, the interests of the Emperor were the interests of all 36 provinces. The intentions of the Emperor formed the direction taken up by all the people. As for representation, the First Emperor was the ultimate representative. He ordered that all books be burned and hundreds of scholars be buried alive, so that must have been the direction of advanced culture; he approved the building of the palace, so the Palace of A Fang must have been the demands of advanced productive forces. He wanted to destroy the other six countries by waging bloody wars, so that must have been in the interests of all the people (including the people on all sides of the wars, dead or alive, and their future generations). It did not matter that the fragile unification was sustained for a short 12 years; it would not matter if "the earth were dissolved in fire" in the 13th year. Even though hundreds of thousands had died, the glory of a ruler had been established. In the generations to follow, there were naturally those who wanted to rule and those who wanted to be ruled, the latter being quite willing to pay respects by singing their rulers' merits and praising their virtues. That countless common folks lost their lives or even their entire families was not important, only the experience of kingship for which the First Emperor was the archetype: people obey the officials, lower official obey higher officials and the Emperor rules over all. So, although the Qin Dynasty ended in only the second generation, it nevertheless established a fundamental institution for the Chinese, one that would last more than two thousand years. With this indisputable "character," why even bother to have "representatives"?

If each group were allowed to look after its own interests, imagine the Family of Gao: Jue Xin representing himself marries Cousin Mei, Ming Feng representing herself marries Jue Hui, and all young generations representing themselves leave to fulfill their own aspirations. Isn't it wonderful? Nevertheless, what do you do with the authority of Grandfather? What about the principle of filial piety!

Again, imagine the First Emperor. Imagine if he had abolished the kingdom, instituted a republic, and sought peaceful unification. Imagine if he had established a unity of states, opened a congress, used the principles of a constitution and democratic procedures to decide matters of state. Then where would be the bitter curse: "If only three Chu families remained, we would still destroy the Qin."

Some will ridicule me, "How could you expect the First Emperor of two thousand years ago to have initiated a modern society of representation?" Indeed, it is only in my imagination. However, I can see a 100%-genuine actuality every day: after two thousand years in China, in a time where political parties have already come into existence, social and political pluralism is still not recognized and one party rule is still ardently defended. With such a mistake in era and under such a system, what does "representative" even mean?

Part Twelve: The Birth of a New Era and the Exit of the Old
The "one party that always leads everything" is an alienation of the institution of the political party, and merely a variation of the imperial system. The imperial system having been abolished by the Xin Hai Revolution, it was unable to possess the corpse of an emperor with the mandate of Heaven, and could only take over the body of a political party. But now the road of totalitarianism has been taken so far - unparalleled in history - it is reaching its end. It has forced a pluralistic society into a one-party leadership structure. It has reduced all relations between people into one basic type: "lead and obey." All other types of relationships have become secondary. It allows only one voice: the voice of the party. It fulfills only one need: the need of the Party. It pursues only one kind of interest: the interests of the Party. Then why is it still necessary to create this new theory of Three Represents?

Nevertheless, it is necessary - extremely necessary - because a new situation has emerged. The CCP came to power in the 1940s. It was the peak of the socialist movement. Together with all other Communist parties around the world, the CCP declared that it was the symbol of socialism, Marxism and the proletariat. At the time, it may have been true and the situation was advantageous for them. Fifty years later, the situation is greatly changed. The advantages of socialism, the truth of Marxism and the proletarian character of the communist party have all met with unavoidable and unanswerable challenges.

Actually, to some CCP leaders, socialism, Marxism and the proletariat are not very important anyway, since they were nourished only by the power of the Party, not by any of the above three. What is critical is that all their justifications have come from the three. Without it, the legitimacy of one party rule would collapse.

As a principle that encompasses all, the leadership's position is explicitly stated in the constitution. The constitution says the CCP's legitimacy to rule the Chinese people is a result of having won the New Democratic Revolution and established the Socialist System. With these two victories as absolute validation, the CCP has proven that it should forever rule China. Lately, there have been quite a few people suggesting a change to the constitution; one party rule is inescapably a target for criticism. Even if things work out according to Deng Xiaoping's wish of "no squabbling," some may ask about the victories of the Democratic Revolution and the Socialist System. Where is democracy in China? Where is socialism in China? Confronted with their obvious absence, how can one continue to justify one party rule?

In such a serious situation, swapping concepts using the new Three Represents in exchange for the old three is apparently a last resort to salvage one party rule. The new three resembles the old three, but has been improved and was invented by those with high IQ's. You may doubt socialism, but you could not doubt "advanced productive forces." It is possible that you do not believe in Marxism, but you must believe in "advanced culture." Even though the CCP cannot represent specific people like workers and peasants, it can represent the more abstract "majority of the people." The "old three represents" have become outdated, but the "new three represents" can be maintained forever. One party rule can now progress with time on the basis of the "new three represents" and sustain itself forever and ever.

Some people say Three Represents has opened a new era. I don't see it this way. What I see is a dying crow standing on the dry branches of an old tree, and the sun is setting.

Some people also say that Three Represents is a milestone, and I think they are quite right. Three Represents is indeed a milestone, one which marks the end of an era.

Part Thirteen: Finally, a Party for the Rich, the Noble and the Strong
Some good friends knew that I was planning on writing a commentary on Three Represents. They advised me not to, afraid that I would be in serious trouble afterwards. I thought about it, and answered, "Thanks, but never mind!"

Other friends have told me that the significance of the Three Represents is not the liberation of productivity, or the creation of a unique culture and civilization and certainly not the representation of the majority of the people. These same old claims have been repeated over and over, with one generation worse than the last. The reason that Three Represents opens a new era is that it allows capitalists to join the Communist Party!

I see! Well, please allow me this one last section, the thirteenth.

There is no need to get excited: the CCP allowing capitalists to join, when it has ruled to this day, is only natural.

A rebellion naturally needs the poor; controlling and ruling require the powerful. There have been examples throughout history. Zhu Yuan Zhang, the First Emperor of Ming was a hooligan, and while leading rebellions, he called to the poor. But after he became the First Emperor of Ming, as an emperor mandated by heaven, how could he still be associated with his poor friends?

Some people are puzzled: if the communists are the ones who would end capitalism, how can capitalists be allowed to join the Communist Party? Capitalists or communists, what the hell is it? It's downright bizarre!

In fact, there are a lot of things in the world that are unwieldy and bizarre; that should come as no surprise. If the First Emperor of Ming changed and no one thought anything of it, then why can't the CCP change?

Even in the past, there have been capitalists in the communist parties. The CCP Charter from the First to Seventh Party Congresses did not include a ban on capitalists joining the Party. At that time, the Party needed the financial resources that were in the hands of the capitalists; why refuse to let them join when they were needed?

By the Eighth Party Congress, the situation had changed. The CCP had accomplished their task to "deprive all those who had exploited." Capitalists no longer possessed resources and had therefore become useless. In 1956, with the permission of Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping directed the revision of the Party Charter, and for the first time added a condition of "not exploiting others" on those wishing to join the Party. Some leftwing old guards - old enough but still quite ignorant - believe that "our party has always disallowed capitalists from joining." In fact, what "our party" has always done is attach importance to real interests: whoever fit the interests of the party was allowed to join, and those who were useless were forbidden. This strategy has proved to be much smarter than anything the leftwing old guards could come up with.

From now on, not only does the CCP need the rich to continuously send fresh recruits, but many of the CCP members have noticeably become suddenly filthy rich themselves! Some famous CCP members and their wives or husbands, sons and daughters, have joined the wave of commerce, "empty" handedly succeeding in becoming red-rich, "revolutionarily" wealthy. The number of those who got rich through "revolutionary" privileges is not small; in fact, if all these people were excluded from the Party, it would be impossible to avoid its splitting apart. Therefore, if the interests of the Party depend upon these red capitalists, then allowing them to join the party is the most natural and the most desirable thing to do. Whether these people are "red," of course, is determined by the test condition of whether they recognize the absolute power of the Party. Those who oppose one party rule will certainly be strictly prohibited from joining. Therefore, stretching an olive branch out to red capitalists does not in the slightest way imply the loosening of the principle of one party rule. On the contrary, it implies that it is now time for the CCP, which controls all, to admit the unspoken truth and formally declare that it has become China's Party for the Rich, the Noble and the Powerful. It is that simple, and should come as no surprise.

Some people predict that as the red capitalists join the party, the CCP will begin to be transformed from authoritarian to democratic. I believe this prediction will be disappointing, like asking a tiger for its skin. It becomes obvious after one examines what these inside-party-red-capitalists have done. Are they promoting democracy or are they strengthening their privileges? As was the case for Chen Xitong or Cheng Kejie, red totalitarianism is their livelihood. The theory of Three Represents will not begin a new era of democracy. Nor will those red-capitalists attracted by absolute power become the engine for political reform.

Source: Far Eastern Economic Review Issue cover-dated September 05, 2002

Reproduced for nonprofit educational purposes (see 'fair use').