Two years after the beginning of major shifts in Chinese political and economic policy, Peking is admitting with unusual candor that still active resistance to the chambers exists among the people and within the government.
In a series of speeches leading up to expected meetings of China's Central Party and legislative organs, government leaders have spoken of attempts to "split the party center" and denounced attacks on government policy from both the "right" and the "ultra-left."
Some unidentified local and national officials, as well as ordinary citizens, appear to be attempting to slow or stop efforts to revive the economy through cash bonuses to better workers, less restraint on peasants' free enterprise and free expression. On the opposite side from these "ultra-leftists," committed to the ideals of the late (Communist Party) chairman Mao Tse-tung, are young people, sometimes termed rightists, who apparently want to push free expression even further than the current government is willing to go.
"These are the most public admissions of leadership differences we've had in some time," said one analyst here. The speeches indicate that Vice Party Chairman Deng Xiaoping (Teng Hsiao-ping) and his colleagues are still firmly in power but are struggling to ensure that their policies are actively pursued.
The front page of the Peking Daily, itself sometimes at odds with editorials in the national People's Daily, Monday reported "misunderstanding and divisions which have come up between a certain number of comrades." It said such differences also "exist among the masses" and that everyone should "make more self-criticisms and overcome petit burgeois factionalism."
In a speech broadcast last week, northeastern military commander and politburo member Li Deshing (Li Teh-sheng) warned against "the reactionary trend of thought" of opposing socialist principles and also against "statements and actions designed to attack and split the party center on the pretext of 'holding'" the banner of Chairman Mao. Until his death in September 1976, Mao appeared to resist attempts to raise wages for better workers, let peasants open free markets or allow criticism of Mao's own works, as the post-Mao government is now doing to a limited extent.
The National People's Congress, China's parliament, is expected to meet soon, diplomatic sources in Peking says. First, however, the ruling Communist Party Central Committee must meet to approve instructions for the parliament. Diplomats are uncertain whether the leadership differences will show up at the meetings in a reshuffle of posts, or whether the government will follow its most recent policy of leaving even discredited officials in place and papering over differences.
Broadcasts from several large cities of China in the past few days indicate that instructions have been sent down from Peking to publicize "the latest important speeches by leading comrades of the center" on the policy split.
Communist sources here and diplopmatic sources in Peking suggest Deng has been blamed for some social disturbances by his political enemies, many of them holdovers from the Mao era like party Vice Chairman and former Mao bodyguard Wang Dongxing (Wang Tung-hsing).
Deng's covert encouragement of wallposter critiques of Mao late last year led to wholesale attacks on communism itself from a few young activists, who were later jailed. Some workers complained that Deng's bonus systems were being abused by people who would not work at all without a bonus. In some areas, peasants have tried to take advantage of relaxed party controls and divide up collectively owned tools and land amond families, a direct violation of the commune system set up in the late 1950s.
The response from Deng's colleagues, apparently reflect in the latest "important speeches" being passed around, staunchly defends bonuses, relaxed controls and freer expression. It blames the social disturbances on sabotage by people under the "pernicious influence" of the Gang of Four, the pro-Mao clique that was purged shortly after Mao's death.
Wan Li, party chief in Anhui Province and one of Deng's closest colleagues, presented this case in a lenghtly fron page article in Saturday's People's Daily and in a speech broadcast in Anhui last week.
"Some people have grasped minor issues and exaggerated and made a fuss about them," he said. "They have plenty of complaints and grievances and they have even attacked the party by saying that its line has swung to the right and that its whole series of principles and policies have gone astray."
He defended Deng's emphasis on "persisting to seek truth from facts," meaning solving each problem differently depending on the circumstances. This is better than the former insistence that "we should copy exactly what the books say," meaning what is in the works of Mao.
The debate over this issue in the last two years "is greater than any of the debates over theory issues on the ideological front since the founding of the People's Republic of China," in 1979, Wan said.
At least four other provinces and three military regions have sounded the same theme in recent days. Hunan Province, Mao's birthplace, has, however, appeared to continue to serve as a sounding board for the government's critics and has been particularly dubious and about relaxed controls on peasants.
Analysts also detect some disagreement in Hunan to Peking's very tentative moves to open talks on improved relations with Soviet Union. An official Peking spokesman said today the government was "studying" a Soviet suggestion that such talks in Moscow in July or August.
Peking announced that the standing committee of its united front group, the Chinese People's Political Consulative Conference, began to meet yesterday. This usually signals preparations for the National People's Congress. The Congress is expected to discuss new legal codes and readjusted economic plans.