The official People's Daily, in an authoritative article, apparently has reacted to the ongoing wallposter protests in China by warning against "anarchy" and emphasizing the leadership of the Communist Party.
Diplomats in Peking reached by telephone said the lengthly front-page article, released here today by the New China News Agency, appeared to represent the final report of an important centre work conference going on in Peking for the last several weeks.
Although appearing to warn wallposters writers not to go too far in their criticism of party rule, the article also vehemently attacked what it said is an existing government bureaucracy that often encroached "on the democratic rights of the people."
Diplomats said the article seemed to recommend a middle course for the wallposter debate, now slacking off in Peking but still going on in other cities. The article's several contradictions suggested an ongoing debate at the very top of the Chinese leadership between those who want to rein in free speech and those who want to encourage more of it.
"The people, under the influence of various kinds of nonproletarian ideology, are prone to anarchy and ultra-democracy once they are divorced from the unified leadership of the party and democratic centralism," said the article published yesterday. "Therefore the strenghtening of unified leadership by the party is a fundamental prerequisite in the struggle to win and safeguard people's democracy."
Although the number of new wallposters appearing in Peking has declined, new appeals for more popular participation in government and clearer explanations of past government acts continue to go up on Peking walls. The central work conference debates have apparently reflected the discussions on Peking street corners. Some diplomats said today they were told a plenary session of the party Central Committee was now under way to be concluded with an announcement next week. There have been several such reports in recent weeks but no Central Committee announcement so far.
The article, entitled "Long Live the People," discussed at great length the 1976 riot in Tienanmen Sqpare. A Peking decision last month to declare this previously controversial incident a "revolutionary" event touched off the wallposter campaign for even more policy changes at the top.
The April 1976 riot was apparently set off by resentment against government leaders who were delaying a modernization campaign that would raise living standards because they feared it would create a new elite. The rioters arrested were not released from jail until four leading Politburo members, including the wide of the late chairman Mao Tse-tung, had been removed from power and criticized for insisting on punishment of the rioters in the first place.
The People's Daily article hinted that some members of the leadership are still opposed to pardoning rioters who had directly challenged the party Central Committee, even if some members of the committee were wrong. "If anyone took the opposite attitude and criticized and condemned the people for their actions, if he held that the Gang [the group headed by Mao's wife] should not be opposed in this way before the Central Committee got rid of them, or that opposing meant 'splitting the Central Committee' how could he them speak of mass consciousness or the strength of the country?" The article said. "Would that not mean leaving the people forever as a passive force to be trampled upon?"
In perhaps the bluntest language to date, the article called for the nation to turn away from the political feuding of the past and completely concentrate on economic tasks. "Wither China?" asked the unnamed guest commentator who wrote the article. "Should China advance triumphantly toward the goal of the four modernizations . . .? Or should the Gange of Four be allowed to ruin the cause of revolution and plunge socialist China back into semicolonial, semifeudal abyss?"
The article failed to explain why the party Central Committee denounced the riot two days after it occurred, other than to say that the disgraced Gang of Four and no other member of the Central Committee was to blame for what happened to the rioters. Some wallposters and leftist magazines here have called for a fuller accounting of the role of current Politburo members, such as Party Chairman Hua Kuo-feng, in the events of April 1976, but so far the official Chinese press has failed to do so
The article critizcized bureaucrats for letting their pursuit of the good life get in the way of serving people. It called Chinese to continue the spirit of protest of the Tienanmen riots, although this time under party leadership.