Qiao Shi, ex-chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), rarely showed his face in public since his retirement in 1998.
On Wednesday, his new book "On Democracy and Rule of Law" was released in a high profile fashion in Beijing. The book will be published nationwide, with most contents being unveiled for the first time. Qiao's rise to further prominence ahead of the CCP's 18th Congress, with his openly advocating democracy and rule of law, has aroused different public opinions and speculation in China and overseas.
On June 20 at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing,
Qiao Shi launched his new book, "On Democracy and Rule of Law." The CCP official media also reported on this new book.
The book contains Qiao's important speeches on democracy and the rule of law that were made over the course of 1985-1998, when Qiao held senior positions in the CCP. Consisting of two parts, the volume has 102 articles in total, about 440,000 words. Most of its contents are being published for the first time.
Zan Aizong, former journalist of Zhejiang-based Ocean News, comments on Qiao Shi's new book. "China has no freedom of press under the rule of the CCP, nor an independent judiciary and general election, let alone democracy and the rule of law," says Zan. The book might be intended to be a souvenir of Qiao Shi's work performance, and a small legacy for his offspring, Zan figures.
Zan Aizong: "China is a one-party state without democracy.
Democracy means voting, having an independent judiciary, legislative and administrative power. Without voting there would be no democracy. The CCP's legal system isn't in its real sense, but a tool serving the rulers."
Chinese pro-democracy activist, En Guang, says that
retired CCP officials'advocacy for democracy and rule of law might win applause from the public. But in reality, it cannot play a significant role in China's democratic development, En Guang thinks.
En Guang: "They still stay within the CCP system, just speak out or advocate (for ideals). Can they really carry out their claims, and to what extent? They themselves might not have greater assurance."
En Guang analyzes that Qiao Shi's talk on democracy and rule of law does not exclude his personal wishes. That is, Qiao hopes his views may have some implications for China's future politics.
In the 13th and 14th generation of the CCP's politburo's standing committee, Qiao Shi was ranked No. 3 in leadership, only second to Zhao Ziyang, Li Peng and Jiang Zemin. Qiao once served as General Office director of the CCP's Central Committee, head of the Organization Department of the Central Committee, secretary of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Committee, among others. Qiao has long been deemed as a figure with real power in the CCP. In 1997 at the 15th Party Congress, Qiao Shi stepped down from his seat in the politburo standing committee, and retired from politics the next year. Opinion varied on the reason behind Qiao's leaving the politburo standing committee. Rumors said that Qiao Shi fell into the clutches of Jiang Zemin. "As Jiang sinks Qiao Shi surfaces" was once a saying, considered hearsay, that circulated in China's civil society.
After retirement, Qiao Shi has lived in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, with very few public appearances. Qiao did not show up even on the CCP's 60th anniversary of P.R.China's founding, the 90th anniversary of its Party founding, and at the 2008 Olympic Games.
However, sources say that after Bo Xilai's case was exposed,
Qiao Shi played key roles behind Hu Jintao's removing Bo and in other major political issues.
Before Jiang Zemin started the persecution of Falun Gong, Qiao Shi, representing the CCP's senior veteran cadres, submitted a survey report to the CCP Central Committee.
The report concluded, "Falun Gong has no harm but only benefits for the country and the people." Yet Jiang Zemin suspected Qiao Shi could be the mastermind behind the scenes of the "4.25 peaceful petition" staged by Falun Gong practitioners in 1999.
Lan Shu (Critic): "Qiao Shi retired so long ago, now he suddenly rose to prominence again, which, no doubt, indicates that the persecution dominated by Jiang Zemin against Falun Gong since 1999 is hard to sustain now. it also shows that an internal CCP faction has realized that the persecution against Falun Gong has created great social disorder in China."
Lan Shu notes that Jiang's clique has been on the wane.
In the past 10+ years, the CCP's persecution of Falun Gong has exhausted huge manpower and material resources, causing harms to hundreds of millions of people, their faiths and families. Now it is time to end the disaster that the CCP has brought to the whole Chinese nation, Lan Shu remarks.