News / Asia

In China, Pro-Bo Xilai Party Not Seen a Threat, but a Demand for Rights

Wang Zheng, one of the founders of Zhi Xian Party, poses in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region in this handout photo taken March 7, 2013 and provided by Wang to Reuters, Nov. 10, 2013.
Wang Zheng, one of the founders of Zhi Xian Party, poses in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region in this handout photo taken March 7, 2013 and provided by Wang to Reuters, Nov. 10, 2013.
Reuters
A political party formed by followers of ousted politician Bo Xilai does not appear to be a threat to China's Communist rulers in itself, but is another example of a growing number of citizens speaking up for their rights and the rule of law.
 
Several well-known supporters of Bo have distanced themselves from the China Zhi Xian Party - literally “the constitution is the supreme authority” party. Its formation last week challenges the long-ruling Communist Party's ban on other parties, but Zhi Xian is unlikely to bring people out on the streets or demand Bo's political rehabilitation.
 
Still, founder Wang Zheng has joined a growing number of Chinese who are willing to stand up publicly for their rights, including environmentalists and groups like the New Citizens' Movement, which advocates working within the system to press for change.
 
China's leaders, worried that any criticism of the government could get out of hand and lead to instability, have taken a hard line and jailed many of these activists, including prominent dissident Xu Zhiyong, founder of the New Citizens' Movement.
 
“There are more and more of us. We have to push the leadership and stand up for our rights,” said Wu Lihong, an environmental activist from central China, who is currently under house arrest. “Only then can China progress.”
 
So far the government does not appear to be taking any direct action against Wang, a Beijing academic, although her home is under surveillance by police and plainclothes security.
 
Wang told Reuters she is no anti-government revolutionary and is not challenging the Communist Party's right to govern, which she accepts is enshrined in the constitution.
 
Instead, the Zhi Xian Party simply wants the government to guarantee things like freedom of assembly and elections.

“There are many important systems provided for in the constitution, like the National People's Congress and representatives of the people at various levels, but this is not happening according to the constitution. That's what I want to stress,” she said.
 
Bo, the former Communist chief of Chongqing who won support with his crackdown on crime and pro-Mao Zedong rhetoric, was jailed for life in September after being found guilty of corruption and abuse of power. An appeals court upheld the sentence last month.
 
The establishment of the pro-Bo party on Nov. 6 came just days before President Xi Jinping began a policy-setting meeting of the Communist Party's Central Committee. He has been reaching out to Bo's left-wing supporters in a bid to win them over and secure endorsement of his economic reform program at the closed-door meeting, scheduled to conclude on Tuesday.
 
The government has made clear that no kind of political reform is on the cards.
 
New Party “A Farce”

 
While Bo's fall from grace continues to anger leftists, three of his prominent supporters said they had not joined the new party, and expressed little interest in it.
 
Song Yangbiao, a reporter who was detained in August after urging people to protest against Bo's trial, said he had heard of the new party's establishment, but knew no details.
 
“Nobody has said anything about it to me. I really don't know anything about its organization or who set it up. It's got nothing to do with me,” he told Reuters. “I think most of us [Bo supporters] don't know about this.”
 
Sima Nan, a well-known defender of Bo's policies who makes a living appearing on television entertainment shows, labeled the new party a “farce”, adding that as a proud Communist Party member he would never join it, doubting Bo would either.
 
“Everything Bo Xilai did in Chongqing was for the Communist Party. He would never join another party,” Sima told Reuters. “I think this new party is a practical joke. I know nothing of its aims or who is behind it.”
 
Bo has been named chairman for life of the new party, but since he has been jailed it is not known if he will or is even able to accept the position.
 
One analyst said authorities could just ignore the new party.
 
“Certainly, there are still those in the Communist Party who support Bo, but very few would dare to stand up and say they support the Zhi Xian Party,” said Chen Ziming, an independent political commentator in Beijing. “The Communist Party is not too worried by these far leftists. If they were espousing liberal democracy, they would get locked up pretty quickly.”
 
Nevertheless, the Communist Party has not allowed any opposition parties to be established since it came to power following the 1949 revolution. So history suggests it will not look kindly on this new party, especially when its titular head is a former member of the Communist Party's top ranks.
 
FILE - In this photo released by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, fallen politician Bo Xilai, center, is handcuffed and held by police officers as he stands at the court in Jinan, in eastern China's Shandong province, Sept. 22, 2013.FILE - In this photo released by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, fallen politician Bo Xilai, center, is handcuffed and held by police officers as he stands at the court in Jinan, in eastern China's Shandong province, Sept. 22, 2013.
x
FILE - In this photo released by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, fallen politician Bo Xilai, center, is handcuffed and held by police officers as he stands at the court in Jinan, in eastern China's Shandong province, Sept. 22, 2013.
FILE - In this photo released by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, fallen politician Bo Xilai, center, is handcuffed and held by police officers as he stands at the court in Jinan, in eastern China's Shandong province, Sept. 22, 2013.
Bo was sacked as party chief of Chongqing after his wife was convicted in the murder of a British businessman, who had been a family friend. She has also been jailed for life.
 
Bo's brash self-promotion irked some leaders. But his populist ways and crackdown on crime were welcomed by many of Chongqing's 30 million residents, as well as others who hoped that Bo could take his leftist-shaded policies nationwide.
 
Han Deqiang, an academic in Beijing who has been one of the ardent defenders of Bo's policies in Chongqing, said he thought support for Bo in the Communist Party was still widespread, even if most people did not dare talk about it.
 
“Without a doubt, many Chinese still support Bo Xilai. I think that most party members believe that it is a case of corrupt officials screwing over a clean official. I think this a view widely held in private. However, there's nothing they can do about it,” he told Reuters, adding he had not joined the new party.
 
“Of course, this is something that makes the Communist Party very nervous,” Han said, referring to Bo's lingering influence.
 
Whether the new party will attract more members later was not immediately clear.
 
In a measure of the interest that could be generated, Wang told Reuters that after she was detained last year for writing two open letters in support of Bo, she was flooded with messages from his supporters.
 
“In the space of 20 days I got more than 2,000 text messages and calls,” she said, but declined to comment on how many members the new party currently has.
 
China's Communist Party has some 85 million members.
 
The new party has caused heated discussion on RedChinaCN, one of the left-wing websites blocked by government censors, with not all comments supporting Wang or the new party.
 
“All she has done is written letters to Xi, but she's never actually criticized him. She's not a real revolutionary,” wrote one commentator on the site, who like some in China are able to access it by skirting government restrictions.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to an enhancement or regression of democracy on the Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid