As part of an apparent attempt to curb Chinese student protests, a high-ranking official warned students today that any attempt to follow the "capitalist road" in China would not succeed.
Addressing a meeting of about 6,000 persons here, Vice Premier Li Peng said, "When introducing advanced things into the country, we should not allow in the capitalist concept of value and decadent way of life, because they contradict our socialist system."
"Bourgeois liberalism would only make a mess of China's affairs," said Li, who is considered by some experts to be the most likely candidate to succeed Premier Zhao Ziyang.
In referring to bourgeois liberalism, the Chinese Communists usually mean such western concepts as free elections and an independent press, concepts abhorrent to the Peking leadership.
At Peking University today, in the meantime, a student said that some student activists had been warned that they now have records at the public security bureau and that their job placement after graduation could be affected if they continue their protest activities.
Party leaders have shown concern recently that protest demonstrations against Japanese economic influence by students in at least four Chinese cities might be getting out of control.
Among 200 to 250 posters pasted on bulletin boards at Peking University in September to protest Japanese trade policies were a few that directly criticized the party and called for liberty and democracy -- concepts usually categorized by the party as "bourgeois." Students also have expressed concern about rising prices, nepotism fostered by high-ranking government officials, and their own crowded and austere living conditions.
In recent weeks, government concern over the university students has grown. The authorities have been apprehensive about the Dec. 9 anniversary of student protests carried out against Japanese militarism 50 years ago and have organized activities to keep students occupied in the days leading up to the anniversary.
Li spoke at a meeting attended by several other high-ranking officials that was organized to commemorate the anniversary. He said the student movement of Dec. 9, 1935, showed that youth movements contributed to the nation when they were organized under the leadership of the Communist Party. He said that today's central task for young people was to "reconstruct the motherland" and that in order to accomplish this aim, "we have to maintain stability and unity."
A student activist at Peking University said today that the activists were not very well organized and that those among them who opposed Communist Party rule were in a minority.
He said the students were not critical of the economic reforms being introduced by the party. Indeed, he said, some students felt that the reforms were not moving fast enough. Most of the students who protested had as their main concern Japanese trade policies that they believed were working against China, he said.
Li's attack on bourgeois liberalism was consistent with recent Communist Party propaganda. The official theoretical journal Red Flag carried a commentary on Dec. 1 that said, "There are still some people in our country at present who envy bourgeois freedom and who yearn for it."