Our Views on the Black Brick Kiln and Other Incidents and Recommendations for the 17th Party Congress

Let us refer to a famous poem by Mao that stirs excitement among us all: “A cuckoo is crying in the midnight until she throws up blood; she believes that her crying can bring the east wind back!”  We deeply hope our respected leaders will stir up the east wind!

General Secretary Hu Jintao and the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau Standing Committee Members, Members and alternates:

In your June 25 speech at the Central Party School, you highlighted the importance of strengthening inner-party democracy, asking all party members to increase their awareness of anxieties.  According to this call, we make the following recommendations.

The Shanxi black brick kiln incident has been uncovered, and some similar cases are still being discovered.  For us communists, it is neither right nor possible to treat or even speak of such incidents as inevitable phenomena of the primary stage of socialism.  This was obviously a capitalist scene, incorporating certain scenes of cruel exploitation, and the tragic, dog-eat-dog world of primitive accumulation under feudalism and slavery.  The mission of The Communist Manifesto and of the CPC is to eliminate exploitation and to liberate all mankind, and these incidents are totally contradictory to our philosophy.

The Shanxi black brick kiln case shows that there are many dark sides of our country that run completely counter to the socialist system and communist ideology.  For example, mining accidents that have occurred constantly for years have claimed the precious lives of many good workers.  The private coal mine owners take advantage of these workers to squeeze out millions and millions to fund their own luxury cars and residences — some of the large enterprises owned by the wealthiest men increase by billions every year.  If these things continue to develop unhindered, will what we are building still be a socialist system?  For instance, the state-owned enterprises, which many of us have worked hard for several decades to build, have been undermined by a variety of methods, sold off or even given away for nothing, becoming what is euphemistically called collective enterprises, although they are in fact private.  Former party secretaries and plant bosses become big capitalists, while continuing to act as party members and secretaries.  Is this consistent with The Communist Manifesto and the Communist Party’s founding principles?  Needless to say, in the whole country, the vast majority of SOEs were also developed bit by bit through the hard work of hundreds of millions of working people under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee.

Now, the majority of property rights does not belong to the people and have become the property of private owners.  Those manual workers, migrant workers, and even child laborers in the private sector, workshops, mines, and shops receive low wages to do extraordinary work while others suffer the injustice of unpaid labor in dark environments.  We are afraid that this is not the only instance of black brick kiln abuses, and there may be many similar cases in other places.  We eliminate pornography and illegal publications every year, but it is said that millions of women are forced to engage in the cruel physical ravages of prostitution.  As a result, a number of parents and children of these families suffer through life.  Do we really have no way to deal with these problems?  Must we take a “laissez-faire” approach?

We still have a lot of large and medium-sized state-owned enterprises that can be managed well.  There is no reason to be auctioned to foreign enterprises only for them to grip our domestic market and squeeze our national economic development.  The media recently reported that the state will allow foreign capital to enter the Chinese military industrial enterprises and purchase shares in joint ventures.  Even if the approval was granted only for the production of ancillary equipment and parts, it is still very disturbing and should be opposed.  Without reliable auxiliaries, how can we expect reliable weapons?  Regardless of the weapon, it only takes one problem with parts to make normal operation impossible, and any explosion can cause fatal accidents!  In addition, they will steal our intelligence, know our capabilities, and encroach upon our entire military production system!

We have a number of provincial, municipal, and county leaders who do not highly regard national wealth and property and will do nothing when it is cheaply sold to others.  Compared to domestic private enterprises, joint ventures, and wholly foreign-owned enterprises, how much of China’s current GDP is produced by state-owned enterprises?  Can our basic economic institution, which is underlined by public ownership, withstand the test of time?  Why have state agencies, including the Department of Statistics, not announced the statistics on proportion among different ownership sectors in the economy for many years?  Workers and farmers have lost their status as masters, and the workers are either temporarily laid off or permanently unemployed with modest compensation.  New land exploitation of the farmers and rich peasants, which we uprooted in the 1950s, has already begun to occur in rural areas.

In the process of economic reform, the top-down style of growing corruption, degradation of many leading cadres, and betrayal of the motherland and the people run rampant.  The above issues are indeed shocking and infuriating.  But every time, issues are only highlighted separately during a specific period of time.  Soon after, big issues are turned into little ones and little ones turned into nothing at all.  There have been very few instances where the problem is dealt with in a manner appropriate to its severity.  None of the major leaders are held accountable for their actions and are dismissed or prosecuted.  Only a few extremely severe cases of corruption have resulted in a few years of imprisonment, or death penalty with reprieve at most.  Corrupt officials are seldom sentenced to death.  In the past, a lot of these cadres might have been good, and it was only wrong ideological tendencies that caused them to betray the party and people.

There are countless concerns and troubles occurring every day, and the list goes on: bubbles in the stock market, increased prices, removal of factories without guidance, resettlement of people, speculation of real estate, soaring prices.  In addition, the low-end exporting policy has led to low wages and exploitation of workers, high energy consumption and heavy pollution, etc.  More seriously, some localities defy central orders and do not report to the central government or simply ignore instructions from above.  The illegal black brick kiln scandal exposed us to very serious problems regarding the future of the Party and the country, which we should now face without hesitation.  This is the “cause” we are working for.  Is it possible that we have digressed to the wrong road, which will lead us elsewhere?

Now, the expanding social gap has become one of the largest in the world.  According to recent World Bank estimates, China’s GINI index of 0.469 has already surpassed the U.K., the U.S., and Japan, and even developing countries such as India, Indonesia, and Egypt.  Comrade Deng Xiaoping once said that, if reform and opening leads to polarization, it is obvious that we are digressing.  Digression is nothing but a mistake and the road of capitalism.  Reform and opening have already been occurring for so many years, and yet the above social issues are only becoming more serious with development.  Why do we still insist on the wrong things?

On the surface, some skyscrapers have been built, along with a lot of joint ventures or foreign-owned enterprises, and state-owned enterprises have merged and expanded.  But if we look past appearances to the truth, we see that the problems are growing, especially the above-mentioned dark issues.  How should we respond?  Can we say on the surface of the facade is the road to a better-off life?  Foreign bourgeoisie and the capitalist state leaders are secretly delighted about two things: the surface of the facade and speech that sidesteps and covers conflicts.  Our people see that these negative issues have not changed after all, and are anxious and fearful about the Party, country, the peoples’ future and destiny, and worry that they themselves will eventually have no one or anything to depend on.

The tragedy of the Soviet Union’s and socialist Eastern European countries’ collapse and the lessons from the decline of the international communist movement that took place after the 1980s are still fresh in our minds.  Imperialism, capitalism, and their agents, have encircled and suppressed us in the areas of politics, ideology, economic and political finance, educational methods, national defence and the military, diplomatic, and national issues, and religion.  They have penetrated very deep.  However, we see that the effects are not great, and their measures are not effective.  Although we often talk about peace, cooperation, and harmony, there are indications that they are doing whatever they can to prepare the military siege against us, ready to launch a war of aggression or the threat to use force.   We can currently say that the Party and government have seriously detached themselves from the people.  Precarious is China’s socialism!  The Chinese people have reached another extremely critical time!

Faced with this kind of domestic and international situation, the majority of party members, especially the old comrades who had received Party education for many years, were are all burning with anxiety, waiting for the Central Party to take effective measures and act quickly and courageously to resolutely lead the whole party, the armed forces, and the people from the “evil path,” the danger of which Comrade Deng Xiaoping warned of long ago.

We hope in the near future it is necessary to convene the 7th Plenum of the 16th Party Congress, which should, from the black brick kiln incident as the breakthrough, summarize and reflect upon our political ideology and basic guidelines in order to, again, uphold the truth and correct the mistakes.  In the 17th Party Congress we should make the decision to establish Marxism-Leninism Mao Zedong Thought as the political ideology that meets the needs of the majority of people.  We sincerely recommend to the Party Central Committee that the brick kiln incidents are not excluded.  We cannot talk about this issue superficially while doing nothing (the just-concluded 28th meeting of the NPC Standing Committee adopted a “Labor Contract Law,” yet the media did not show the chairman, vice chairman, and members of the Standing Committee saying a word of the Shanxi black brick kiln incident).  It should be seen as a very important breakthrough and an alarm calling for the whole Party to correct the wrong path we are on.

Chairman Mao said: “the Communist Party is the core power leading our activity, and Marxism-Leninism is the guiding principle of our thought, whether our ideological and political line is correct decides everything.”  This is the undeniable truth.  Comrade Hu Jintao said: “at any time and under any circumstances, we must always hold high the great banner of Mao Zedong Thought.”  This is completely correct.  We fully and strongly support such reform and eagerly look forward to implementing it practically and effectively in the future.

Our party has a glorious tradition, which is: be open and upright, do not engage in machinations; breed unity and not division; unite under the correct determination.  In the interests of the people, we overcome difficulties and strive for a greater victory.  Therefore, to have a fully democratic environment, the Central Committee must set an example for the entire party, and create a new situation of freedom that allows party criticism of fine traditions and cadres’ ability to speak their minds.  The CPC Central Committee needs to listen to the majority of people, especially the workers and peasants, concentrated in line with the correct Marxist views. and establish the 17th Party Congress as one which opens a correct path, achieves united victory, and is of great historical significance.  We must adhere to the truth without hesitation, and be ready to correct mistakes, which is a very arduous task.

We recommend that we launch a study of Marxist theory before the 7th Plenum of the 16th CPC Central Committee and the 17th Party Congress.  The central government should decide to select some important documents of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, such as The Communist Manifesto, Anti-Duhring, The State and Revolution, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, “Serving the People,” “Yu Gong Yi Shan,” “Study Bethune,” “Combat Liberalism,” “On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People,” and other works of Chairman Mao, as well as the full lyrics of two songs, “The International” and “The Three Main Rules of Discipline and Eight Points for Attention,” and have members of the Central Committee Central Commission of Discipline Inspection and representatives of the 17th Party Congress to run classes of seriously study.  We should also organize and help all of the Party members to study as long as they have the ability to read.

We recommend that, before the 7th Plenum of the 16th Party Congress of the CCP and the 17th Party Congress, we should begin to criticize democratic socialism, socialist revisionism, and bourgeois liberalization according to Marxism.  Without abolishment, there is no establishment; without difficulty, there is no success.  Without criticizing these erroneous ideas, it is impossible to truly uphold Marxism as the guiding principle and political guideline, and it would even undermine the construction of socialism.  At the turn of spring and summer in 1989, because of bourgeois liberalization, a counterrevolutionary riot broke out.  Comrade Deng Xiaoping pointed out that the nature of the riot was “bourgeois liberalization and opposition to ‘The Four Basic Principles.’  The goal of the riot was to “subvert our country and our party.”  The most important lesson is that “we address the importance of the ‘The Four Basic Principles,’ ideological and political work, anti-bourgeois liberalization, and anti-spiritual pollution, but we lacked consistency, action, or did not tackle these problems adequately.”  He also pointed out: “In the 6th Plenum of the 16th Party Congress of the CCP, I said that we needed 20 years more to fight against bourgeois liberalization.  Now it seems that it will be more than 20 years.  The rampant spread of bourgeois liberalization will lead to extremely grave consequences” (Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping, the third volume, 305, 374).

Today the spread of bourgeois liberalization is greater than ever.  In addition to the aggressive propaganda of bourgeois liberalization, there is another thought of bourgeois liberalization disguising itself as Marxism, and that is democratic socialism.  It seriously distorts Marxist scientific socialism and denies the fundamental principles of scientific socialism — public ownership of instruments of production and dictatorship of the proletariat.  It is attempting to turn China into a bourgeois country, which is the vassal of Western countries.  It may confuse people because it disguises itself under the cloak of Marxism.  We should seriously criticize it.

In short, we must thoroughly criticize all wrong anti-Marxist thinking, and establish order from this chaos to ensure the guiding status of Marxism.  We suggest that the 17th Party Congress make decisions to restore the party as a vanguard of the working class, correct the wrong ideas of “dual vanguards,” and change the erroneous regulation that allows capitalists to join the party.  The vanguard nature of the working class has been clearly regulated since The Communist Manifesto.  As early as in 1879, when the heads of the social democrats, Bernstein, and others opened the doors of communist parties to the “educated, philanthropic” assets, and attempted to change the Party into a “full party,” Marx and Engels immediately denounced the idea, and said that if they persisted in this thinking, they would have to resign or at least remove themselves from Party leadership positions (see The Complete Works of Marx and Engels, the third volume, 367).   Since the establishment of the Communist Party of China, we have been maintaining the fundamental principle that the CPC is the vanguard of the working class.  On June 9, 1952 the CPC Central Committee stressed in a document that: “No party members should be allowed to exploit others (regardless of whether it was feudal exploitation or capitalist exploitation).  If they are reluctant to give up exploitation, or continue exploitation through kulak or other forms, they should be unconditionally expelled from the party.”  On September 16, 1956, Deng Xiaoping, on behalf of the CPC Central Committee, pointed out that “in the report on the amendments to the Party constitution, Party members must engage in labor and not exploit the working people.  We must make every Party member firmly draw a line between labor and exploitation.”  These fundamental principles had been maintained until the 16th Party Congress.  Since the 16th Party Congress, there has been a closer relationship between the Party and bourgeoisie but a more distant relationship between the Party and workers, peasants, and working intelligentsia, and this is quite dangerous.  We recommend that the 17 Party Congress restore previous regulations about the characteristics of the Party and the requirements for membership, readopting the correct Marxist stance.

For those capitalists who have already become Party members, we can give them two options: 1. Continue to be Party members by ending exploitation, returning the instruments of production currently used for exploitation to the Party and People’s government, and becoming laborers that depend on themselves; or 2. Automatically resign from the Party and continue to be capitalists, but love the country, obey laws, and make contributions to the motherland.  Some of them may join democratic parties on a voluntary basis.

Looking at the current facts, we have to confess that China’s reform is heading towards changing public ownership to private ownership and socialism to capitalism.  If the 17th Party Congress continues firmly down this path, a Yeltsin-type person will emerge, and the Party and country will tragically be destroyed very soon.  However, since the specific conditions in China are different from the former Soviet Union’s, the Chinese version of Yeltsin may not publicly announce the dissolution of the Communist Party, change the name of the country, or sell our territory.  Rather, they will use Marxism-Leninism and the five-star red flag to disguise themselves and deceive the people.  How did this problem begin?  The answer lies in 20 years of implementing the wrong policy guided by wrong ideology.

We cannot solve the fundamental problems only by adding a few social welfare policies and imprisoning some corrupt officials if we are not able to break ideological restraints, correct the privatization of the reform policy, and change the wrong regulation that allow capitalists to become Party members.  Without these changes, we will face endless disasters.  We hope that the Central comrades in leadership can truly understand the significance of these issues.

We sincerely hope and suggest that we thoroughly deny the wrong theories and paths, thinking and approach routes to completely break away from the wrong theoretical ideas.  We should take firm action to return to the revolutionary road and list Marxism-Leninism Mao Zedong Thought as the Party’s sole guiding ideology, rather than only airing another wave of words.  As long as we implement the above policies faithfully, all the serious problems existing in politics, theory, ideology, culture, education, economy, agriculture, industry, military, national defence, diplomacy, foreign trade, government officials, corruption, and the elimination of pornography, illegal publications, and gangs will be fundamentally resolved.

Faced with such a grim situation and in this extremely important historical juncture, we also recommend that the Central Standing Committee and the Politburo consider the best options, eliminate the various negative factors, and overcome adversity to change the current negative situation.  The CPC Central Committee Political Bureau should call on the entire party to relate the reality of China today with Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought on the proletarian revolution and proletarian dictatorship, the history of the Communist Party of China, the history of the international working class struggle, colonial history, and study them.  Leading cadres should not worry about personal gains or losses, but rather ensure that all true views of Party members can be expressed.

Given the long absence of inner-Party Democracy and rigid hierarchy, Party leaders have detached themselves from the people, and erroneous working styles, such as bureaucratism, sectarianism, formalism, opportunism, and liberalism run rampant.  Most of the people have acclimated to taking cues from the boss rather than speaking their own minds or putting forth different ideas.  If this problem cannot be solved, the Party Congress and NPC will not have positive results.

Therefore, we recommend that the CPC Central Committee makes an official decision and informs the whole party that the Central Committee members, Central Commission for Discipline Inspection members, representatives of the 17th Party Congress, and all of the Party members criticizing the government or putting forth different ideas should not be blamed, placed in prison, supervised, or killed, and their relatives and friends must be kept safe.  We must enable everyone to speak the truth.  It is imperative to recall and carry forward the spirits and lessons of the Zunyi Meeting during the Long March and Yanan Rectification Campaign in the 1940s.

Meanwhile, our Party should make a decision to welcome the retired former Party and state leaders to support the Party Congress and NPC.  As for the propaganda that has been proven wrong, related comrades should, following the Party’s discipline, actively avoid any restatement of these expositions and be wary of making historical mistakes.  The central leaders should hold high the great banner of Marxism-Leninism Mao Zedong Thought as a guide, and take the lead in conducting self-criticism.  They should seek truth from facts and adopt the attitude of “speaking the truth without caring about losing face” to systematically and comprehensively summarize the experience of reform and opening in the past 30 years — what progress or error has been made and what lessons can be learned in order to uphold the truth and correct our errors.  We should make policies that truthfully consider the principles of socialism and the interests of workers, peasants, and the people.  Regardless of how principles and policies are made or who is responsible for them, as long as they are anti-Marxist, they are inconsistent with the interests of the people previously mentioned and should be totally rejected.

The economy may be temporarily impacted, but it will gain the sincere support of the broad masses, and will therefore greatly promote political and economic unity, as well as greater development.  We have friends all over the world, and we will develop.

On the issue of how to select candidates for the 17th Party Congress, we suggest that the Central Committee adheres to the principle of meritocracy.  The candidates must be the ones who uphold Marxism-Leninism Mao Zedong Though, become close to the people, contribute to peoples’ interests, as well as the cause of Communism, dare to maintain truth, correct mistakes, and have high moral standards and ability, and are self-disciplined rather than caring too much about personal gain or loss.

We suggest that the Central Committee adjust the name list according to the situation of the 7th Plenum of the 16th Party Congress and 17th Party Congress.  The decision should be made through competitive elections regulated by the Party Constitution, which was the case in the 7th Party Congress.

We suggest that the Central Standing Committee of the Political Bureau and the General Secretary be elected by all the representatives of the 17th Party Congress or the Central Committee in direct competitive elections.

We firmly believe that if the leading comrades of the Party Central Committee can make up their minds, realize the problems we face, and truly return to the Marxist-Leninist Mao Zedong revolutionary stance without fear of pain, shame, evil, or pressure, we can summon the spirit of revolutionary struggle, work together to overcome difficulties, turn the tide, captivate the world, and firmly correct the direction of socialism.

We can also unite the whole Party and all the comrades who participated in the 17th Party Congress and make correct Marxist and Socialist policies through study, discussion, debate, and united understanding, thinking, and action.

Only through the above actions can the 17th Party Congress be a successful, united, and historically important one, which holds high the great banner of Marxist-Mao Zedong thought and follows the correct path.  The Chinese people and our friends from all over the world will support and praise us.  The Beijing Olympic Games and Shanghai World Expo will also be successful.  We will certainly be able to build a better country, and the Chinese people will be able to have a better future.

Finally, let us refer to a famous poem written by Mao that stirs excitement within us all: “A cuckoo is crying in the midnight until she throws up blood; she believes that her crying can bring the east wind back!”  We deeply hope our respected leaders will stir up the east wind!

Please deeply consider the above proposals and adopt them.


Ma Bin (former consultant, State Council Development Research Center)

Zhou Chuntian (former director, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region Advisory Committee)

Li Chengrui (former director of the State Statistics Bureau)

Qin Zhongda (former minister of the Chemical Industry Ministry)

Mao Linchun (former deputy minister of the metallurgical Industry Ministry)

Wu Fanwu (former State Department Bureau of Foreign Experts)

Yang Shouzheng (former Chinese ambassador to the Soviet Union)

Hua Guang (wife of Zhang Haifeng, former Chinese ambassador to Romania, and former minister of political affairs at the Chinese Embassy in Romania)

Han Xiya (former alternate secretary of the All China Federation of Trade Unions)

Zang Naiguang (former deputy chief executive of the Bank of China)

Xu Chengzhi (former director of the Political Affairs Department of the PLA Railway Corps)

Long Guilin (former chief of staff of the PLA Railway Corps)

Bai Xuetian (former political commissar of a People’s Liberation Army tank division)

Chen Xiao (former deputy director general of the Political Affairs Department of the PLA Navy)

Yu Quanyu (member of the CPPCC National Committee, researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences)

Xu Fei (associate professor of the Communication University of China)

Mo Mengzhe (editor, Institute of Contemporary China )

July 12, 2007

Translation by Nicole Dabney, Ying Zhang, and Guanhui Dai.  This open letter was posted to A-List by Henry C. K. Liu, who says that it is “creating much debate in Chinese political circles.”  To read the open letter in Chinese, click here.

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