We're good, right? Bo Xilai at the National People's Congress meeting in Beijing last year, a few days before his fall from grace. (Photo/CNS)
Hu Dehua, son of China's former leader Hu Yaobang, has said in an interview with Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao that Beijing should fulfill the promises citizens' rights contained in the country's constitution, also calling for the government to oust the senior officials with ties to the disgraced politician Bo Xilai if it is as serious as it claims about tackling the problem of corruption.
Hu, who runs an energy technology company, said he believed the new administration under Xi Jinping would launch political reforms, though these would be hard to achieve in the short term and would meet resistance from entrenched interests. "China has formed a giant interest group, and reforms cannot satisfy people on all levels," Hu was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
Such interest groups included officials who seek to line their own pockets or transfer their wealth overseas, he said, citing the case of the disgraced former party chief of Chongqing.
Bo Xilai was linked to property worth billions and he and the recently deposed Sichuan deputy secretary Li Chuncheng are examples of the kind of malicious self-interest that must be beaten, Hu said.
A number of officials have fallen from grace since China's new leadership was unveiled at the 18th National Congress last November, where the party expressed renewed determination to punish corruption. Online whistleblowing is among the ways the illegal behavior of certain officials have come to light, and the authorities have acted upon them. However, Hu said Bo and Li were examples of people who were promoted due to illegal practices. Li advanced his career by bribery, and Bo was reported to the authorities by others about his violations long before his eventual downfall last year, before which he had been seen as a rising star destined for a top position.
"Who elevated the official (Bo) to eminent status when he had been reported to the authorities by others? What was the relationship between them? It seems like they had no connection considering the public handling of the case now. The central government did not explain it," Hu said.
The 63-year-old Hu, who caught public attention as he attended a forum of "red second generation" members last year, said the top circle of power in Beijing has called Bo's violations an individual case without connections to other senior officials as details of his abuses of power came to light.
Hu said he believed the senior officials who made such comments about Bo's case must be related to his wrongdoing; otherwise, they would not call it an isolated case. If such hidden things cannot be brought into the open, the latest anti-corruption drive is merely a show, Hu suggested.
Of Wang Qishan, the new secretary for the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, who is in charge of the investigation into Bo, Hu said he did not know him too well. "If Wang can dig more deeply into Bo's case, making public all the connections involved, he will be a good official," Hu said.
There has been much talk of reforms at all levels since the party's latest congress, but the key is how these should be carried out. Hu said it is unnecessary for specific reforms to be drafted, rather the execution of the constitution should be the direction of reform. The PRC Constitution bestows Chinese citizens with the right to freedom of speech and of the press, as well as freedom of protest, assembly and association, those these are rarely upheld in practice. "These rights are what we have. However, do we have publishing freedom? Do we have all these freedoms? Are our properties protected? No!" Hu said.
Hu's father Hu Yaobang was forced out of the top position within the Communist Party in the 1980s for holding positions that were considered too liberal for the time. His death in 1989 provided the catalyst for the pro-democracy student demonstrations in Tiananmen Square that were later ruthlessly crushed by the army. Hu and his comrade-in-arms Zhao Ziyang, who was himself deposed for expressing sympathy with the aims of the protesters, were two of the chief architects of China's economic reforms and remain icons for reformist voices within the country.
Hu Dehua 胡德華
Hu Yaobang 胡耀邦
Bo Xilai 薄熙來
Xi Jinping 習近平
Li Chuncheng 李春誠