Author speaks on China

by The Staff Of The Dartmouth | 5/6/94 5:00am

Notable Chinese author, journalist and political activist Liu Binyan spoke about obstacles that lie in the democratization of China to an overflowing crowd in 13 Carpenter last night.

In the keynote address of the College's conference on "The Future of Democracy in China," Liu emphasized that recent economic growth, while raising the standard of living in some cities, has inadvertently led to widespread chaos in China.

Corruption, inflation, unemployment, poverty and bandits have become increasingly common, he said.

Liu described how the inability of state-owned enterprises to compete in China's growing free market has led officials to compensate the government's economic loss by extracting more money from peasants and workers, sometimes violently.

Bureaucrats who sense that their control is weakening, have recently sought to capitalize on China's economic boom, Liu said. They do this by smuggling foreign goods and hoarding wealth, sometimes becoming millionaires overnight, he said.

But the instabilities brought by economic growth underline a more fundamental problem, Liu said. Mao Zedong, the founder of communist China who led the country from 1949 to 1976, successfully destroyed of all forms of authority -- Confucian, religious and moral -- that have traditionally united the Chinese people, Liu said.

Left without any authority to follow except their individual desires, the current generation of Chinese often ignore social responsibility in achieving personal gains, Liu said.

Liu also said a sense of helplessness has taken over many Chinese who have been excluded from the political process under communist rule.

But Liu emphasized that he is optimistic about China's future. In this century the Chinese have become more aware of individual rights and have gained an enthusiasm to participate politically, he said. Another climax of the democracy movements like the Tiananmen Square Massacre may rekindle the democratic spirit, he said.

Liu said he is grateful to those in the United States who have contributed to China's democratic cause, but said China cannot simply imitate other countries, but must come up with its own political ideas.

Liu, was a member of the Chinese Communist Party as a young man, and a journalist in the 1950s. In 1967, during the Cultural Revolution, Liu was condemned as an anti-party, rightis, bourgeoisie enemy of the people.

Liu became an influential writer from 1979 to 1987, when he was banned again from writing. Since then he has been a visiting fellow at Harvard and Princeton Universities and Trinity College. He is now the director of the China Initiative at Princeton.

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