Vale Chinese patriots

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Brian Hennessy. An Australian in China. February 16, 2019

There are communists, and there are communists.



Vale Li Rui

李锐; April 13, 1917 – February 16, 2019

Li Rui (李锐), who died today at age 101, was a typical, sincere Chinese communist in his early years. Later he became Chairman Mao’s personal secretary but was sacked, tortured, and jailed for nine years after he criticised Mao’s Great Leap Forward – a failed policy which resulted in famine and the death of 30-60 million people. He was also imprisoned for eight years during The Cultural Revolution for criticising that equally disastrous period in China’s history.

Rehabilitated during the Deng Xiao Ping era, Li Rui was a bold and deeply respected figure who, despite official policy, advocated for an independent judiciary, political reform, and Western style democracy. He also repeatedly urged the Party to face its history and denounce Mao’s ideology and policies – something it has yet to do.

In the Xi Jinping era he was perhaps a lone dissenting voice within the ruling elite, warning against the dangers of one-party rule and unchecked power. He criticised Xi Jinping’s elevation to President for life, and cautioned against any return to a personality cult style of leadership.

He was there the last time this occurred.

Vale Li Rui. Chinese patriot.



Vale Zhou Youguang

“When you encounter difficulties, you need to be optimistic. The pessimists tend to die,” said Zhou Youguang, who died on January 14, 2017, at age 111, and who created the Romanised version of Mandarin called Pinyin.

He suffered during the Cultural Revolution, and was a dissident until the day he died. “What are they going to do,” he asked bluntly (at age 107) in an interview with the BBC in 2012: “Come and take me away?” And this: “Chinese people becoming rich isn’t important,” he said in the same interview. “Human progress is ultimately progress towards democracy.”

A brave and principled man. One of China’s modern (and unknown) heroes. 

Vale Zhou Youguang. Chinese patriot.









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