News / Asia

    Interview - Founder of New China Party Aims to Work Within System

    Wang Zheng, one of the founders of Zhi Xian Party and an associate professor of international trade at the Beijing Institute of Economics and Management, in an undated handout photo provided by Wang to Reuters on Nov. 10, 2013.
    Wang Zheng, one of the founders of Zhi Xian Party and an associate professor of international trade at the Beijing Institute of Economics and Management, in an undated handout photo provided by Wang to Reuters on Nov. 10, 2013.
    Reuters
    For someone who has just set up a new political party in the face of a de facto ban by a Chinese government that tolerates no dissent, Wang Zheng has surprisingly modest aims.
       
    Wang and other supporters of disgraced senior politician Bo Xilai, who has been jailed for corruption, formed the China Zhi Xian Party - literally "the constitution is the supreme authority" party - last week. It named Bo as "chairman for life."
        
    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.
        
    But Wang, one of the party's founders, insisted in an interview that 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 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 told Reuters by telephone.
        
    According to China's constitution, the "people's representatives", the equivalent of members of parliament in other countries, should be directly elected by the people.
        
    But that does not happen in practice. Elections that do take place occur without any opposition candidates and official candidates are pre-approved and pre-screened by the Communist Party. It is widely suspected that votes cast against candidates are not counted.
        
    The constitution "says that the Communist Party will lead for the long-term, and in the present circumstances we accept that... It's in the constitution, so we have to accept it," said Wang, 48, an associate professor of international trade at the Beijing Institute of Economics and Management.
        
    The new party plans to hold its first congress next year to elect a vice-chairman, Wang said, declining to say how many members her new party had.
        
    She described herself as an "initiator" of the party and accepted that forming it was a sensitive move ahead of a meeting of top leaders that started in Beijing on Saturday to map out a long-term economic plan for the country.
        
    Wang said that she is currently under surveillance with police and plainclothed security outside her house.
        
    Asked earlier if she was worried that she might be arrested, she said "We are not afraid. I don't think we will be arrested."
        
    'Exercising her rights'
        
    Despite being a supporter of Bo, Wang says she was originally driven to speak up for him because of a simple sense that he had been legally wronged.
        
    Bo was dramatically sacked last year as Communist Party chief of the Chongqing metropolis following a scandal involving the murder of British businessman, for which Bo's wife was convicted.
        
    Wang wrote two open letters last year decrying what had happened to Bo, after which she was detained. Upon being released, Wang was flooded with messages from supporters and sympathizers of Bo, someone about whom she admitted she had previously known little.
        
    "Everyone told me what kind of man Bo Xilai was - they were all ordinary people. Only then did I start to understand him," Wang said. "I went from having an objective, legal point of view when talking about him, to becoming a supporter."
        
    "But I'm not a fan because fans are not rational and I'm rational."
        
    Wang said she had never met Bo but declined to comment when asked if she had met any of Bo's relatives following his dismissal.
        
    She went to Chongqing to meet Bo supporters in June last year, but was forced back to Beijing and put under house arrest for about a week, during which time she staged a hunger strike and ended up in hospital.
        
    Bo, a "princeling" son of a former vice premier, was once a rising star in China's leadership and had cultivated a following through his populist, quasi-Maoist policies.
        
    He was jailed in September for life on charges of corruption and abuse of power after a dramatic fall from grace that shook the ruling Communist Party. Bo had denied the charges. It was not immediately clear if Bo would accept the chairman's role in the new party.
        
    Han Deqiang, a Beijing academic who has been one of the most ardent defenders of Bo's policies when he was Communist Party chief of Chongqing, knows Wang as a passionate supporter of Bo.
        
    Han said he was not a member of her new party.
        
    "She's been very brave and very resolute. She's really an astonishing person," Han told Reuters.
        
    "I know she is not worried about being taken away. She believes that everything she is doing is in accordance with the constitution. She's simply a citizen who is exercising her rights in accordance with the constitution, including the right to set up a party."
        
    Totally different
        
    Activists have been jailed in the past for setting up political parties, although parties have never before coalesced around fallen top political figures.
        
    One of China's most prominent dissidents, Xu Wenli, was sentenced to 13 years in prison in 1998 for helping to organize the opposition China Democracy Party.
        
    More recently, a group of dissidents helped organize the "Charter 08" movement, calling for sweeping political reforms. One of their leaders, Liu Xiaobo, was jailed for 11 years in 2009. A year later he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
        
    Wang said her party was totally different because she was not seeking to repudiate the Communist Party.
        
    "There was Charter 08 - I think their motives were good, but the way they went about things was definitely wrong," she said, adding she was in favor of direct elections for the country's rubber stamp parliament, the National People's Congress.
        
    The Zhi Xian Party was formed on Nov. 6, just three days before the opening on Saturday of a key conclave of top Communist Party leaders to discuss much-needed economic reforms, including how to further push back the state's involvement of the economy, something leftists have fought hard against.
        
    "Privatization is against the constitution. State-owned enterprises are the lifeblood of China's economy," Wang said.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora