By Zhang Tianliang
|Apr 30, 2008|
The Xinhua News Agency, China's major mouthpiece, has reported that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is willing to hold talks with the Dalai Lama. Many Western media outlets described this development as "unexpected." Actually, this is not surprising at all.
Recently, the CCP has shown a streak of yielding to pressure. The most striking example might be its cutting of the "Stamp Duty" on stock market transactions on April 23, and closely followed by announcing a willingness to talk with the Dalai Lama's aides. The cause for such developments lay partly in the CCP's eagerness for the Olympic Games to meet with success. However, there are two underlying issues here that should be noted. Firstly, the CCP is facing a grave crisis and is left feeling that it has no way out other than giving in to pressure.
The CCP has yielded while under pressure before in history. Actually at times it took pains to set up a more democratic and open-minded image. For example, after defeated by the Kuomintang armies in 1934, the CCP army escaped in a circling retreat that reportedly traversed some 12,500 kilometers (8,000 miles). During the massive retreat, the CCP constantly cried out slogans such as "Resist Japan," and "All Guns Aim Towards the Foreign Invaders." They even started to address Jiang Kai-Shiek as "General Jiang" in their propaganda, instead of his former "official" title "Jiang the Thief." Prior to the civil war between the Kuomintang and the CCP, the CCP was a fledgling entity. To avoid immediate defeat, the CCP chanted the slogan "Peace and Democracy," gesturing a willingness to solve its problems through diplomacy. However, once the CCP feels it has power over either friend or enemy, its despotic nature comes to full fruition. Despite this rigid and ferocious character, throughout its building-up era, yielding was the CCP's only strategy to survive.
Since the CCP took over China, it has rarely yielded to either international or domestic pressure. However, under the threat of 15 million desperate Chinese stockholders, the CCP decided to cut the Stamp Duty. The CCP was worried that if the stock market continued to collapse, the vast number of stockholders would take to the streets to demonstrate, further calling into question the CCP's ability to host the Olympic Games, not to mention rule the country.
The CCP agreed to hold talks with the Dalai Lama's aides only to appease the growing trend of boycotting the Beijing Olympics. Many world leaders have explicitly announced that they won't attend the Beijing Olympics Games' opening ceremonies. It has been a heavy blow to the CCP, who had longingly hoped to gild its international image with the halo of Olympic Games.
Facing the massive movement of Chinese people withdrawing from the CCP and its affiliated organizations (now at 35 million), the CCP feels even weaker than it did during the time of the 1935 massive retreat. It desperately needs a boost like that of the international spotlight shining on an Olympic host could provide. Therefore, shows of concessions can be reasonably expected. Secondly, these concessions are only maneuvers meant to buy time in the short-term. They are insincere and the CCP certainly has no intentions of solving these issues.
For example, China's stock market problem is not rooted in a mere "Stamp Duty" problem. Cutting this tax only reduced the cost of stock transactions, but did not solve the overall economic problems of China. A high rising inflation index, the appreciation of the Chinese currency, foreign investment leaving China, the real estate bubble and malicious corruption are the congenital stubborn illnesses of China's stock market.
To solve the stock market's problem and build up a healthy investment environment, China has to implement open, fair and just policies. The realization of such policies rely on the realization of freedom of press, a just and independent legal system as well as freedom of assembly, association and demonstration. Without fundamental changes in these areas, cutting the Stamp Duty will have no real effect. Some people believe that China's stock market will crash following a short advancement, which I totally agree.
Talking with the Dalai Lama is another feign of sincerity on the part of the CCP. Both sides have held talks at least five times in the past. No improvement was made since all these talks were behind closed-door. The CCP merely uses these to buy time and butter foreign relations. The question of whether the current problem in Tibet can be solved depends on whether the CCP allows independent investigations (for example, by the UN) and makes the facts public. As for Tibet's long term religious freedom, cultural protection and the ethnic relations between Han people and Tibetans, whether the CCP can allow international observers to participate in negotiations and supervise the implementation of any agreements, is the real test on the CCP's sincerity.
Solving the religious and cultural issues of Tibet is tied to the fulfillment of the constitutional rights of Chinese citizens. The solution to this problem will bring about the constitutional rights for members of the underground Catholic church, Christian family church members and Falun Gong practitioners. It has the same effect of "pulling one hair may move the whole Body." And all of these issues are those that the CCP dares not to even touch.
In my April 11 article "Does the CCP have the sincerity of hosting the Olympic Games well?" I predicted that the CPP would yield its position in the Tibet problem, and proposed three indicators to test the CCP's sincerity in hosting the Olympic Games, namely, "Open up the Internet, abolish laws that violate the Constitution, and release all people imprisoned because of their faith." From the Stamp Duty to the Tibet incident, if anyone thinks that the CCP has improved, then he or she has been fooled by the CCP. But don't take my word for it. Just remember the three indicators that I mentioned above and closely observe the CCP's actions.