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Salient. Official Newspaper of Victoria University Students Assn. Volume 40 Number 2. Feb 7 1977

Chinese Masses in Control

page 3

Chinese Masses in Control

Much capital has been made in the western press and by right wing groups in New Zealand by distorting the recent events in China. They have rubbed their hands in glee and predicted civil war and calamity as a final proof that socialism does not work.

But they have been disappointed.

Although 1976 saw an incredible amount of political and ideological struggle, it has acted in a positive way and socialist production has not declined as predicted by the self proclaimed "China watchers".

The reason for the political struggle and the criticism campaigns is the fact that the Chinese are aware that even in socialist society, struggles between classes will continue until such time as all class divisions will disappear (communism). The Chinese have said that this will take perhaps hundreds of years.

In the meantime, the Chinese people are building the base of a socialist society and continuing the self criticism of their path. They know from looking at the history of the Russian revolution that bourgeois ways of thinking are regenerating constantly and may surface at any time as they did during the 50's in the Soviet Union.

The main attack launched in China in 1976 was against the "gang of four" who made their bid to usurp state power at the time of Chairman Mao Tse-Tung's death.

The "gang of four" (Wang Hung-wen, Chang Ch'un-ch'iao, Chiang Ch'ing and Yao Wen-yuan) gained power during the Cultural Revolution, which started in 1966, and are closely associated with the policies of Lin Piao, one time successor to Chairman Mao, who was killed in 1971 after an attempted coup d'etat.

When I spoke to a group of Chinese journalists who were out on an exchange in January, I got the impression that there is now a feeling of great relief by Chinese people now that the "gang of four" have lost all political power. The title of a widely circulated article sums these feelings up......" Excellent Situation in China after smashing of anti-party" gang of four".

The charges against them are numerous.

The most serious charge against them is that they lost all contact with the masses and thus violated the democratic principle of the "mass line" initiated by Chairman Mao. They had an arrogent approach to the masses and had run roughshod over them. They cast aside some of the cadres who had devoted their lives to the revolution, in one case dismissing the Minister of Railways for what they saw as "bourgeois punctuality".

But their intentions were more sinister than that. They used their positions on the Central Committee to manipulate the media. They used the "criticize Teng Hsiao-p'ing" campaign to obscure their factional activities. Through strict censorship they prohibited news of the death and mourning of their arch-enemy Premier Chou En-lai.

Their ultra-leftist policies created chaos in the Chinese economy. Capital accumulation in Socialist enterprises were condemned as "putting profits in command" and efforts to improve one's professional competence to serve the revolution as "taking the road of becoming bourgeois experts". They opposed certain foreign trade as "national betrayal".

When the massive Tangshan earthquakes struck, the four did not attend briefing on the situation and interfered with the relief efforts, and defamed the leaders of the relief forces. In this way the Chinese people were able to see that the "gang of four" worked contrary to the fundamental interests of the masses.

Photo of Chinese people walking in public

Despite the warnings given by Chairman Mao to the four to cease their splitting tactics (Dec 24 1974 "Don't form a faction. Those who do will fall".) they formed a caucus to have Chiang Ching become Party chairman and Wang Hung-wen became chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.

People ask why the "gang of four" are beyond reconciliation and why Teng Hsiao-p'ing was able to be reconciled and allowed to criticise himself.

The Chinese see the "gang of four" as a contradiction between themselves and the enemy, whereas Teng Nsiao-p'ings mistakes were recognised as contradictions within the people themselves. This is to say that while Teng Hsiao-p'ing took a false path in his thinking, the "gang of four" actually endangered socialist construction and therefore the political power of the masses.

So how should we view the political changes in China? Many people in New Zealand have been footed by the left phrase - mongering of the "gang of four". In China, the workers and peasants are not as easily fooled by "ultra-leftism" because the results of its policies have an immediate effect on them.

We can say with certainty that the removal of the "gang of four" is a step forward in China's path of socialist construction.