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

    How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Probe Targeting China's Statistic Head Sparks Concern

    Economists now asking what prompted government to launch an investigation only months after Wang Baoan had been vetted for crucial job

    HRW: Both Sides in Ukraine Conflict Targeted, Used Schools

    Rights group documents how both sides in Ukraine conflict carried out attacks on schools and used them for military purposes

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.