The latest outpouring of protest in Peking reveals how shaky are the nation's top level political compromises and how much concern exists over resistance to the crucial modernization of the Chinese economy.
Like many other experienced governments faced with sudden difficulties, Chinese administrators are blaming the press. An unpopular series of decisions by the Communist Party Central Committee after a 1976 demonstration at Tienanmen Square inspired this week's wall poster writers and sidewalk orators.
But a massive report on the 1976 troubles just released by the official New China News Agency blames it all on editors and reporters of the People's Daily who spread rumors to "mislead the Central Committee."
The latest clamor is not likely to abate for good until several members of that Central Committee who are still there turn over power to friends of pragmatic vice party chairman Teng Hsiao-ping, the hero of the wall poster authors.
Teng's men would probably also like an official rank list for the ruling party Politburo that gives them clear prominence over holdovers from the days of the late Chairman Mao Tse-tung. When Mao was alive, pragmatic policies like worker bonuses and improved consumer goods were in disfavor.
Making a fuss over who is in second place or ninth place in the Politburo may seem silly to Americans, but in a protocol conscious society like China, such ratings directly influence policies in education and industry that change people's lives.
The last few years in which top leaders have been listed largely by the equivalent of alphabetical order, rather than by actual influence, have not been very stable times. Teng's men, only recently returned from years of political disgrace, need as much authoritative evidence as possible that they are back on top so that lower level officials will obey their orders quickly and without complaint.
The outpouring of protest of Peking's streets gets a great emotional charge from the fact that many friends of these recently rehabilitated leaders still have not recovered the jobs and benefits they lost in previous purges. They feel they have been wronged and are due a better deal News Analysis
from the new post-Mao government. But like all bureaucracies faced with sudden political change, Peking has delayed and spent time looking for scapegoats, thus making the poster writers even angrier.
The Tienamen demonstration of April 5, 1976 proved that spontaneous authoritarian China. The demonstrators who defied the official effort of that day to discourage praise of the pragmatic policies of the deceased Premier Chou En-lai, now have been vindicated and their audaciousness has been praised. But events also show that leaders at the top can move quickly to bend the results of such spontaneous events to their own purposes.
As the official Kwangming Daily, a journal under control of Teng's men, warned his enemies recently: "Who wants to oppose the force of the people and to decide not to change his attitudes? People not only have the right to criticize him, but also to remove him from his posts."
Some holdovers from Mao's era, like Peking Mayor Wu Teh, have already been effectively removed from important power. A radio broadcast revealed this week that another holdover, Vice Premier Chi Teng-kuei, has also lost a position as first politi-region. Some analysts suggest that cal commissar of the Peking military Chi simply shed a job he had little time for in order to concentrate on a massive assignment to rewrite the the Chinese legal code, but he remains in the unenviable position of having profited greatly from Mao's 1960s Cultural Revolution at the same time Teng and his friends were being temporarily purged.
People inside and outside China have watched carefully for the faintest sign that the most important holdover of all, party Chairman Hua Kuofeng, might be caught up in the same Teng-inspired turnover. Hua seemed to move quickly to endorse the 1976 demonstration this week by writing an inscription for a pro-demonstration book of poems, but some analysts noticed that only last April he was described by Chou En-lai's widow as favoring tahe view that the demonstration had been, at least in part, counter revolutionary.
A huge official report on the demonstration issued by the official news agency this week included dozens of eyewitness accounts of the 1976 out-pouring of pro-Chou, pro-modernization sentiment. It had not one word to say about the two Central Committee resolutions passed two days after the demonstration which condemned the rioters, purged Teng, and promoted Hua to a place as Mao's evident successor.
It blamed People's Daily reporters for collecting distorted information on the violence during the riots, and blamed Mao's wife Chiang Ching for further distorting the editing to make it seem as if the demonstrators were attacking Mao, rather than defending Chou Chian entertained the reporters afterwords, the report said, and "dripping with solicitude, she asked them: "Did they [the demonstrators] beat you?"
Chinese officials in China have said for the last two years that it was such political intrigue in 1976 and earlier that distracted them from what should have been their first task, reviving the economy. Any more political upheavel in China is likely to have a similar adverse effect. Officials uncertain about who is in command will be slow to executive new, effiency-oriented policies. Intellectual's children with good grades will not be admitted to college as fast as Teng would like them to be Recalcitrant workers will not have their pay cut so quickly. New foreign trade deals will not be signed with the necessary speed.
"There are worries, or wishes, that the present ideological revolution may yet go away, chaos may yet revisit the country," said the Hong Kong pro-Peking journal, Ta Kung Pao, Thursday.
It is to squelch such worries that central leaders seem to be conferring in Peking over new leadership line-us, new rank listings, and new orders, they are not apt to please those Chinese would prefer just to continue a democratic wall poster debate.