Plans for a major meeting of the Chinese leadership were reported today as posters went up in Peking calling for "human rights and democracy" in China.
The independent Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao, known for its often excellent sources inside China, said the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee would meet this month or next to consider the suddenly explosive debate over China's moves toward rapid modernization and freer expression.
Diplomatic sources in Peking reported crowds flocking to read an anonymous wallposter saying "we cannot tolerate human rights and democracy being only slogans belonging to the Western bourgeoisie while the Eastern proletariat supposedly needs nothing but dictatorship." It follows Sunday's appearance of the first known poster directly criticizing the late chairman Mao Tse-tung. Georges Biannic of Agence France Presse reported from Peking that crowds around the anti-Mao poster were now so dense that one persn read it out loud while others took notes.
The new appeal for human rights gained semi-official support here when one of Hong Kong's two principal pro-Peking dailies, the Wen Wei Pao, reprinted on its front page today the most controversial parts of the poster carried in a foreign news dispatch.
Rumors of a forthcoming third plenary session of the Chinese Communist Party's 11th Central Committee have been circulating in China for several days, as the new wallposter and press campaign has raised doubts about the position of party chairman Hua Kuo-feng and other leaders who have benefitted from their links to Mao. The wallposters and some official newspapers have sharply criticized police action taken in 1976 against people who joined a massive demonstration in Peking's Tienanmen Square on April 5 of that year. Hua was then acting premier and nominally minister of public security.
Ming Pao, the Hong Kong independent newspaper, said that recent travellers to Peking reported a plan was being considered that would apparently diluate Hua's influence, and strengthen the hand of Vice Chairman Teng Hsiao-ping, by increasing the size of the standing committee of the Politburo.
The Ming Pao sources said Chen Yum, a financial expert in his 70s, would be added to the ranks of the five party vice chairman, inclding Hua and Teng who stand at the very top of the Communist hieracehy. Two other men, foreign relations expert Keng Piao and science exar Fang Yi would join the poliburo standing committee along with Chen Yun, and two other party vice chairmen, the sources said. Although relationships at the very top of the Chinese leadership are difficult to ascertain Keng. Fang and Chen are all thought to support Teng and his pragmatic polices. Chen, in particular, is thought to have suffered for his criticism of Mao's effort, occasionally endorsed by Hua, to run the economy through mass campaigns rather than careful drawn up by experts.
Despite Ming Pao's relatively good track record, it and other observers of the Chinese scene have found specifie personnel charges very difficult to predict. Often, high officials in Peking have privately disclosed plans for Central Committee plenary sessions, only to find the meetings delayed for weeks or months as party leaders sought a consensus on personnel and policy changes. Despite the appearance of unity the Chinese leadership has managed to convey since Mao's death, the latest controversial appeals for human rights and the personal ambitions for Hua 57, the nominal leader of the party, army and government and Teng 74 the chief policy maker, may be hard to resolve.
Ming Mao added the speculation that some apparent politburo allies of Hua who have recently suffered losses of power, including former Peking mayor Wu Teh, former Sinking chief Salifodm and Peking commander Chen Hsi-lien might be demoted.
The official press has carried hints for months of a basic policy debate that has showed efforts to implement Teng's plan for rapid modernization. Some teachers have complained that a new, rigorous college entrance exam is denying poorly prepared peasant youththe chance at a university education. The return of public dancing and some Western movies have bothered Chinese social conservatives. The new emphasis on foreign trade, such as a recent $500 million deal for the construction of American-style hotels in China, seems to violate Mao's firm policy of economic self-reliance.
The immediate issue, however, is what should be the official verdict of the Tienanmen demonstration, which was an outpouring of support for the memory of the late premier Chou en-lai and his chief protege, Teng. An announcement last week that 388 persons arrested after the demonstration had been cleared bore only the stamp of the Peking city party committee, although Hua later indicated central authorities had also approved the decision.
The issue is difficult because two Central Committee resolutions were passed with Mao's approval two days after the 1976 demonstration, one condemned the demonstrators, and removed Teng from all his posts. The other promoted Hua to premier and first vice party chairman, making him to the obvious successor to Mao, who died five months later.
Hua joined with many Teng allies after Mao's death to purge Mao's wife, Chiang Ching, and restore Teng to power. But several Teng supporters, and perhaps Teng himself, have indicated resentment that Hua rose to the top instead of the more experienced Teng.
The official press has so far avoided this issue, it has not even mentioned the two April 7 resolutions in its denunciation of actions taken against the Tienanmen demonstrators. Some recent wallposters, however, have called for repudiation of the resolution against Teng and many have called for punishment of those who quashed the demonstration, which could include Hua.
Hua has moved to short-circuit such criticism by publicing his personal inscription for a book of poems praising the demonstration. Some diplomatic sources say a small wall poster in Peking suggesting that Teng, rather than Hua, should have done the inscription was quickly torn down, although Biaanie reported that similar sentiments were scrawled on an official poster praising Hua's inscription. Wen Wei Pao skirted the issue today, saying only that "Chairman Hua's name was mentioned in some critical posters."
Many of the posters may be part of a selfserving political struggle by political enemies of Hua and Vice Chairman Wang Tung-hsing who, as a longe-time Mao body guard and internal security overseer, is a likely target of any campaign against Mao and for human rights. Biannic reported that a garage on Peking's Wangfuching Street, where the signer of Sunday's anti-Mao poster said he worked, claimed no one with the worker's listed permit number actually worked there. "We have already had four journalists from the people's Daily asking us the same question," a woman at the garage told Biannie.
Posters calling for human rights, including one that charged "vital rights, democratic rights, human rights were usurped and attacked" at Tienanmen, have so far been anonymous. In part years such democratic statements have landed their authors in jails.