It makes perfect sense to talk about China’s possible reform from the point of view of Xi Jinping’s personal character, his working experience and his colleagues on the Political Standing Committee (“Xi Jinping takes helm of China amid reform calls,” Web, Nov. 15).
However, I think another factor is missing in the discussion. To consider whether there will be reform and what kind, we cannot ignore the communist system, which may play a bigger role than any individual. The communist system’s influence is twofold. One is the party culture cultivated by the system, another is the blood debt generated through the system.
Besides being dominated by Marxist philosophy of class struggle and atheism, the Communist Party culture has also undergone Machiavellian treacheries from Chinese history. Mr. Xi and others enamored with the party grew up in an environment of intrigue and backstabbing. One of the most awful consequences of the party culture is its indifference to life and human suffering. We cannot underestimate the effect of this when talking about Chinese leaders.
Blood debt accumulates generation after generation: Mao Zedong’s Great Cultural Revolution, Deng Xiaoping’s Tiananmen Square massacre, Jiang Zemin’s persecution of Falun Gong, Hu Jintao’s intensive restriction of freedom of speech and crackdown on mass protesters seeking basic rights — all these add up to the blood debt of the communist system. The new leader has to inherit the debt, and the elder leaders will try at all costs to prevent him from acknowledging and redeeming it.
Sooner or later, the leader will have to carry out actions that create new debt, just like his predecessors, with the curse of the communist system upon everything he does. Everyone in the power circle feels safer when the successor’s hands are stained with blood.