”Elders” who speak out

In the wake of the Wang Lijun-Bo Xilai-Gu Kailai-(and whoever more is involved…) scandal, the so-called ”security chief” (安全头目) Zhou Yongkang (周永康) have been hit by rumours. The latest is that he already has been stripped of real power, and 9 May a group of ”party elders” (党内元老) published an open letter asking for his public dismissal. Now and then such groups of ”elders” speak out on certain issues, sometimes with positive response and real effect, sometimes only met with silence. Usually, there are a few more well-known names among the signatories, and ”elders” do not only point to age but political seniority.

In this case the undersigned all come from Zhaotong (昭通) in Yunnan, a very poor area, and none has had any senior position. Leading writer is Yu Yongqing (余永庆), b. 1933, and short life-stories of him and other signatories can be found online. Most of them were badly hit by the ”anti-rightist” campaign in 1957, and they have also been publishing other letters and stories in regard to the 55th anniversary of this campaign. But will their letter have any impact on Zhou Yongkang or CPC decisions? Not likely. It more seems like media spinning on rumours ahead of the upcoming 18th CPC congress this autumn.

There are, however, other ”elders” who speak and who should get more attention. Cheng Siwei (成思危), b. 1935 is not a Communist party member, but a former China Democratic National Construction Association (中国民主建国会) leader, and also former Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. At the 60th anniversary celebrations for China University of Political Science and Law (中国政法大学) 16 May, Cheng Siwei spoke on rule of law and division of power, among other things. He said he following (around 2:00 on the video clip):

We must first establish the concept of a legal system. You could say that in the minds of some officials the issue of which is greater, the party or the law, has not yet been fully resolved.


As the leading role of the Party is written into the constitution of the PRC, it cannot be easy for ”some officials” to come to a final conclusion on this issue… but it is certainly time to establish rule of law in China.