Contact: Roland Watson, [email protected]
CHINA: A NEW DEMOCRACY REVOLUTION
March 27, 2016
Many people may not be aware of it, but - democracy-wise - things are
heating up in China. At its recent plenary meeting, the National People’s
Congress (the “parliament” of the Communist Party), emphasized “national
security” against “domestic subversion.” The regime has furthered vowed to
act against “infiltration, subversion and sabotage by hostile forces.”
President Xi Jinping was threatened in an open letter about the direction
of the country’s reform, and which included a demand for his resignation.
Students in Hong Kong have launched a pro-independence party.
Into this mix, we offer the following article, and which has been
published simultaneously in both the traditional and simplified Chinese
character sets. We will be working to distribute the article into mainland
China and Hong Kong.
Please post and share, including on twitter, wechat and weibo.
CHINA: A NEW DEMOCRACY REVOLUTION
By Roland Watson
Behind the scenes, the Communist Party of China is worried, if not in an
actual panic. It has mismanaged both the economy and financial markets.
And, it is involved in a never-ending, and escalating, war with the people
of the country, who want human rights and democracy. The pressure the
communist leaders face will never go away. While for the moment they may
have extreme power and wealth, they can never relax.
For the economy, China became the world’s factory, but now foreign
consumers do not want so many goods. Even worse, the leaders blocked the
formation of a middle class (which would normally follow a long period of
economic expansion), and which would have created a new source of demand.
Their fear: A middle class would insist on democratic change. They can’t
have that. Instead, they followed the dictator’s playbook, and kept the
bulk of the population impoverished. The people were able to work in the
factories, certainly, but at the wages of a serf.
The principal beneficiaries of the economic activity were the
apparatchiks. They were then encouraged to flock to the stock market, with
the promise that the Party would keep the prices rising forever. Here,
though, the top leaders made a mistake. They manipulated the market (and
the broader economy - this is a common pattern in corrupt developing
nations) so that, as the largest investors of all, they would pocket
astronomical sums. But, in the process they ignored its underlying, and
immutable, rules - that greater reward requires greater risk, and that
what goes up will come down. Chinese stock prices bubbled up (along with
housing prices), and then rapidly deflated. The lower-level apparatchiks
lost a large part of the wealth they had accumulated from running the
sweatshops, and were saddled with large loans. Now, there is no way to
re-inflate the bubbles, or resume legitimate economic growth (the
published economic data is dubious if not a complete fantasy); and, to top
it off, the currency, the Yuan, is under pressure. A currency reflects a
nation’s economy. If the latter weakens, the former does as well, and
which international speculators - hedge funds - do their best to
accelerate. The one thing the communists had going for them, an economic
machine, and which replaced the storied “iron rice bowl” and kept the
masses pacified, is failing.
The Party fired its head securities regulator, a sacrificial victim - he
just did what he was told to do, and is now trying to assure the world -
and the Chinese people, that it can prevent a crisis in the economy, and
stock market, and currency. We shall see.
All of this economic and financial turmoil provides an ideal opportunity
for the people to throw off their oppression and to rise up. Nonetheless,
the communists remains strong, and brutal, so - as everyone realizes -
democratic change will be difficult to achieve. But, it is coming. The
dictators cannot maintain control forever. And, with a bold approach,
their day of reckoning can be brought forward, by years if not decades.
One advantage the mainland people of China have is their co-citizenry, the
residents of Hong Kong. Because of the one country-two systems structure,
they are not so repressed - or pacified. The mainland can follow Hong
Kong’s lead, which in turn puts the onus on its residents. They must fight
not only to maintain their own democracy, but to provide an example for
all the people of China.
There was a pro-democracy revolution in Hong Kong in 2014, the Umbrella
movement, to force the local government to back down from giving Beijing a
say over who may run for office in the upcoming 2017 election. This was a
large uprising, but ultimately it failed. The Hong Kong Administration did
not back down. As I wrote in an article at the time, the protestors needed
three things: fierce leaders; growing numbers; and international support.
For the first, the movement took the form of a coalition, including Occupy
Central, Scholarism, and other groups. Some of their leaders were fierce,
but in the face of a government crackdown others wavered. For the second,
the protests grew to the low hundreds of thousands. This number, while
massive, proved to be insufficient. Finally, there was no real
Of the three factors, I believe the second was the most important. Had the
movement grown to a million or more, it would have succeeded. The
question, then, is why it didn’t. The government crackdown of course
dissuaded more people from joining, as was its goal, and counter-protests
were organized as well. But, while these were substantial barriers, the
real issue was the movement’s organization. Everyone was out protesting
and the leaders were on stage and subject to arrest. While it was
difficult if not impossible to anticipate what would happen, the movement
should have created a separate, behind-the scenes, organizing team
dedicated to increasing the turnout, day-by-day. This should have included
media relations - public calls on both traditional and social media for
more protestors, and also efforts to counter government lies.
Since the objective was not achieved, it’s clear that Hong Kong needs
another uprising. The people must force the government to yield. There
must be a victory, most importantly, to show all the people of China that
the Communist Party can be beaten. In this new uprising, Hong Kong
organizers should further concentrate on increasing the size of the
protest until it washes over the government like a tsunami, including by
having a plan to get as many people as possible out when the protest is
triggered, and then with a separate team, not on the streets and subject
to arrest, to keep the demonstration growing.
Ideally, a new protest in Hong Kong would spread to the mainland. But,
since Party agents there are so repressive - they are like predators, a
number of additional steps will be required. To encourage large numbers of
people to demonstrate in the mainland’s cities, the public needs to be
agitated such that they are so angry they lose their fear. And, the best
way to lose one’s fear is to believe that something is possible.
People on the mainland do protest, of course, and quite often: against
poor working conditions, pollution, government corruption, and other
grievances. Local conditions are often so bad that the people will fight
back. Furthermore, for fear of igniting larger protests, the authorities
regularly back down. The model, therefore, is in place. What is required
is an underground movement to create widespread agitation for human rights
and democracy. Then, with the people angry and the country unsettled, the
stage is set for a real uprising, for example, in response to new events
in Hong Kong.
The Communist Party is terrible: A monster. But, because of censorship
most Chinese are poorly informed about this. Instead, they are fed lies
that the Party is the savior. The people need an underground revolutionary
movement to counter this. Once they know the truth, how they have been
deceived, they will be angry enough to rise up.
Fortunately, this type of movement is straightforward to create. If done
with care, it can further involve minimal risk: indeed, less that
protesting. What I am referring to is an agitation-propaganda, or
Agitators, singly and in small groups, can pepper the walls of the
mainland’s cities with revolutionary graffiti and fliers. A call for this
type of action could further easily be spread around the country, in
defiance of the Party’s censorship, using social media.
A propaganda movement often has a number of distinct elements, including
revolutionary images, slogans, and fliers. For instance, for Hong Kong -
the territory needs an agitation movement as well, the image could be a
picture of an umbrella. Activists, using a stencil and spray paint, could
put it everywhere, under the cover of darkness. Of course, it doesn’t have
to be an umbrella. The image could be anything. For example, for the
mainland it could be the characters for June 4, 1989, referencing the
Tiananmen Square democracy movement, or simply the word “democracy,” etc.
There could be a number of different images, and accompanying
Fliers in turn fill in the story, providing substance to the demands of
the slogans. Short descriptions of Party crimes and corruption should be
taped to walls, or just left where people can find them. Indeed, Falun
Gong’s Nine Commentaries is an excellent source of information about the
Party’s historic atrocities and crimes, and which could be supplemented
with information on more recent events.
Actually, the underground movement should not only focus on the job of
removing the dictators. It is important to remember that a democratic
transition has two stages: Overthrowing the regime; and installing a
well-functioning democracy, tailored to the nation’s history and
conditions. The Chinese people need to have a wide-ranging discussion
about the second stage, at the same time that they confront the Party.
Through doing this, the movement will also develop a positive focus, on
what a democratic China will look like, as well as give the people hope
that such a future is achievable. (Note: this is a good reason to
infiltrate the Chinese translation of my short guide, Lessons In
Democracy. The Chinese people can have a better discussion about
implementing the democratic system if they understand how it is meant to
Finally, the most effective structure for a revolutionary agit-prop
campaign is one that is decentralized and non-hierarchical. This holds for
protests as well. This reduces the common problem of disputes arising
among the leaders, and it further keeps the movement alive in the event
that activists are arrested. Even so, it is imperative that everything
possible be done to avoid arrest. For protests, having huge numbers of
people in the streets is a defense in and of itself. If regime agents do
make arrests, the demonstrators can often be “un-arrested” as well, such
as by swarming the police stations where they are held. For nighttime
propagandists, though, precautions are essential. Actions should be
rehearsed, in different clothes, before any graffiti is written or fliers
placed. And, absolute secrecy should be maintained. Don’t tell anyone what
you have done.
In a popular movement there are many groups. The onstage leaders, and
underground activists who do direct action, bear the greatest risk. Next
are other organizers, both for protests and underground action. Then come
the protestors, and finally the rest of the population. Opposed to the
movement are the top dictators; their formal repression apparatus
including the army and the police; and plain clothes agents and spies. The
intermediate objectives of the movement are to get more members of the
public to join the protest; to get more people to bear more risk
(risk/reward holds here as well); and to get dictatorship members and
agents to join the movement in secret. If these objectives are achieved,
the regime can be overthrown.
The people of China deserve democracy, but it will take a popular
revolution to achieve it. The people of Hong Kong also need to defend
their rights under the one country, two systems principle. These two
missions are linked. The indigenous of Hong Kong must demonstrate to
preserve their rights, and through doing so help lead the people of the
mainland to demand change, who in turn must engender a collection of
underground activists, to create revolutionary propaganda and through it
the conditions for widespread rebellion. Only through this can the
people’s aspirations be fulfilled, and the country reach a stable and