Peking University Professor Zheng Yefu Urges China to Break With Communism

Shortly after the New Year, Peking University’s retired Professor Zheng Yefu (鄭也夫) made a direct and daring appeal to the Chinese authorities in his Jan. 4 article titled Causes for the Difficult Birth of Political Reform. In the text, he wrote in no uncertain terms that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has brought endless tragedy to the Chinese people over its 70 years of rule, and lacks virtually all capacity for self-correction.

For China’s leaders, Zheng Yefu said, the only way they can have their names honored by posterity is to lead the Party to withdraw from the historical stage.

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The article’s bold thesis — that the disintegration of the Communist Party is the only way to bring China out of crisis — has attracted many readers in the overseas Chinese community.

Zheng Yefu says Party is in a predicament

Zheng Yefu’s article is a surgical dissection of the reality within the Party-state, analyzing the quagmire faced by its leaders and the reasons for its existence, then arriving at the inescapable solution.

He poses the question: Why has political reform failed to materialize? The answer is simple: The Party bosses have realized that “every aspect of political reform can only serve to weaken the Party’s power.”

Most of the Party’s policies, he said, don’t serve the public good — in fact, the opposite is the case. Using real estate as an example: The Party expropriated people of their land to sell it at high prices to real estate agents, causing the housing bubble and forcing numerous citizens to become slaves to their mortgages. The government has become rich at the expense of its people.  

“If the Party falls, so does the nation” is the axiom so often repeated by the state propaganda machine. To this, Zheng Yefu has another simple answer.

“The country will not fall. The age of colonialism is all but past; China and its people no longer face the same threat of extermination. It’s the Party that is going down. Thanks to its dismal management of the country, there are so many people who can’t make ends meet. What happens if the Party falls? The ruling class will fade into history. Of course, they want to avoid that scenario, so [economic] reform was implemented.”

Commenting on the cause of the current issues that China faces, Zheng Yefu said: “Ruler and ruled sculpt one another. The vicious circle is created by the interaction of both parties. The rulers bear most of the responsibility, but his wantonness is also induced by the meekness and submissiveness of the Chinese themselves. They have spoiled the CCP too much. Only when the vulnerable speak up can China escape this vicious cycle. If there is no pressure from outside [the political system], no demand for the independence of the press or tolerance of opposition parties, there can be no change: Even supposing the Party leader himself is willing to reform, he would encounter opposition from his colleagues. Without external impetus, the idea will never occur to them.”

Zheng Yefu believes that the task of bringing a peaceful end to dictatorship calls for the action of a wise leader. Otherwise, he says, it will be difficult to secure a nonviolent transition.

The conscience of the intellectuals and the choice of the masses

Traditional Chinese society recognized the four classes of scholars, peasants, workers, and merchants. Scholarly officials were the custodians of Confucian orthodoxy. It was also none other than the intellectuals whose duty it was to act in accordance with traditional values, including loyalty to the nation, self-sacrifice for a just cause, integrity, sharing the sorrow and joy of the nation, and so on.

The Communist Party has systematically attacked traditional Chinese culture and morality ever since it came to power. One of the first things they did was to persecute Chinese intellectuals, eliminating both their physical bodies and the traditional thinking they represented. Several generations of Chinese intellectuals were destroyed. For decades, they trembled silently, fearing the butcher’s knife under the Party’s tyranny. The “solid rock of righteousness and justice” — the intellectual class — was no more.

As a Chinese academic, Zheng Yefu wrote that part of his motivation for writing his article was to “allow myself some semblance of self-respect.”

“Everyone shares a collective responsibility for the welfare of the nation,” Zheng Yefu said. “Over the years, I have scribbled millions of words. How could I forgive myself if I failed to write a few words on the one question that has been on my mind for so long, the question that concerns the future of our country?”

Zheng Yefu said: 'Over the years, I have scribbled millions of words. How could I forgive myself if I failed to write a few words on the one question that has been on my mind for so long, the question that concerns the future of our country?'
Zheng Yefu said: ‘Over the years, I have scribbled millions of words. How could I forgive myself if I failed to write a few words on the one question that has been on my mind for so long, the question that concerns the future of our country?’ (Image: via Pixabay)

“If the intellectuals had been true to their conscience and had had the courage to speak their minds, China would not be in the situation it is today,” Zheng Yefu wrote.

He believes that everyday citizens also have a duty to help the country out of its current state. “If we don’t voice our opinions and exert pressure, we don’t deserve to see the dictatorship come to its end.”

Zheng Yefu’s call to action coincides with Tuidang (退黨), or “Quit the Party,” a grassroots movement that started in China in 2004 shortly after the Chinese-language edition of The Epoch Times serialized the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party. The movement has attracted international attention, with over 324 million Chinese announcing their withdrawals from the Party and its affiliated youth organizations. This is the spiritual awakening of the Chinese people, who are increasingly choosing to abandon the Party as it continues on its way to disintegration.

The leader’s choice

While Zheng Yefu says that a wise leader is needed to bring a peaceful end to the dictatorial one-party rule, he concedes that “being the Party leader, it’s really no easy task to take the Party on this path.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcoming the Chinese president Xi Jinping and Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcoming the Chinese president Xi Jinping and Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan. (Image: Narendra Modi via Wikimedia Commons)

Paradoxically, the challenge comes not necessarily in the form of opposition parties, but the lack thereof, which is also a consequence brought about by the Party itself. As it doesn’t face any credible opposition, it has little reason to choose the path of reform.

The conclusion of the editorial series How the Specter of Communism Is Ruling Our World, recently published by The Epoch Times, describes the significance of the choice that millions of Chinese have made to quit the Party.

“Millions of its people have peacefully resisted the communist regime’s tyrannical rule by remaining steadfast in their faith and morality… More and more individuals are making the heartfelt decision to free themselves from the shackles of communism. The disintegration of the Communist Party is underway.

“The end of the Communist Party is a matter of divine arrangement. China’s leaders, should they take steps to dismantle the Party, will be provided all the conditions for a clean transition. In the future, they stand to gain true authority — that granted by gods. Should they stubbornly refuse to make this break, they shall take the Party’s fate as their own, joining it in the calamities of its final downfall.”

At this critical moment of historic change, the current Chinese leader is also faced with a choice. If he can align with tradition, protect religious freedom, put an end to the 20-year-long persecution of Falun Gong [a Chinese spiritual practice with tens of millions of adherents, banned by the Communist Party], vindicate the wronged, abandon communism, and embrace universal moral values, he would be able to lead China along a peaceful transition to a future free of the perils it faces today. His name will be honored by history. But time waits for no one, and the opportunity will not be there forever.

Original article by Xia Xiaoqiang

Translated from the Chinese by Eva Fu. The article has been edited for clarity and brevity. 

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