Friday, July 8, 2011 Ex-official warns of crackdown risks






Ex-official warns of crackdown risks

The most senior Chinese official jailed over the 1989 Tiananmen protests warned the Chinese government on Friday that its sustained crackdown on dissent will only bring more instability.

In an interview with reporters on Friday, Bao Tong, the most trusted aide to purged Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang and now an outspoken critic of the government, said he believes Chinese leaders are filled with insecurity about the country's social order.

China's Communist Party has muzzled dissent since February, secretly detaining dozens of lawyers and activists, worried that uprisings across the Arab world could inspire challenges to its one-party rule ahead of a leadership succession late next year.

"A government that snatches the legitimate rights of the ordinary people, I think this kind of government will never be stable," said Bao, 79. He was jailed for seven years for his opposition to the government decision to send in troops to crush the pro-democracy demonstrations, and remains under close watch by security officers around his home in the west of Beijing.

"I think the measures they have taken are wrong. It will backfire on what they want to achieve."

The transition is due to start late next year, when Vice President Xi Jinping is likely to take over from President Hu Jintao.

Bao was once a political high-flyer, and as secretary to the party's all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee held a rank equivalent to a cabinet minister.

Bao said it was imperative that Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao "create the conditions" for future leaders, which means "not creating problems".

"What they're doing now is only increasing the obstacles," he said. "On the approach that they are taking now, on what kind of consequences it will mean for the future, I think it will cause more trouble for the new leaders."

"If they start implementing democracy and the rule of law, it'll be much easier for the incoming leaders. There'll be less risks and less resistant forces."

Bao was harsh on Hu, whose government he says has reneged on its promises of democratic reform, and for its treatment of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, who was jailed in 2009 for 11 years for subversion.

"He's telling the world that China's laws don't count. Only I, Hu Jintao, matter. That's why I say I'm thoroughly disappointed in Hu Jintao," said the healthy and alert Bao, sitting in front of a picture of his former boss Zhao.

Zhao died in 2005 after more than 15 years under house arrest.

Bao was more sympathetic to Wen and applauded the premier's recent calls for democracy and human rights, most recently last month in London. .

"One thing I haven't figured out is what the motive of his comments are," Bao said. "Is it just for the sake of speech or is he really prepared to take action on what he has said?"

"I hope he is prepared to do what he says. But he has not much time left, if he doesn't act quickly, people will say in the future that he's worked for 10 years and all he achieved was just empty talk for a decade, with nothing to show for it," he said. "That will be a pity."

Bao said he had high hopes for Vice President Xi.

Xi is the son of reformist former vice premier and parliament vice-chairman Xi Zhongxun, making him a "princeling" â€" one of the privileged sons and daughters of China's incumbent, retired or late leaders.

"I hope he will make a difference. I hope he will not be ... a second Hu Jintao. He should be Xi Zhongxun's son, have his own mind and know that his own father has worked a lifetime for the ordinary people, and that his father suffered."

"I hope he remembers his father's experiences and not betray his father. Of course ... as a friend of his father's, I'll also put more pressure on him."

"The world's greatest politicians were made because of pressure from the people," said Bao. "An emperor that has no pressure will definitely be corrupt."

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