Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Reformer Rises Again?

People come to watch the unveiling of Hu Yaobang's statue in Dachen island
Something interesting is happening in a coastal city in China.

A statue of former Chinese Communist Party leader Hu Yaobang, whose death sparked the Tiananmen Square democracy protests, has been erected in Dachen island at Taizhou in Zhejiang province, according to an article in the China Youth Daily.

The bronze statue has him looking into the distance, and the fact that it was even set up perhaps signals the government is quietly beginning to rehabilitate him politically.

Hu was known for championing reforms
He had been dismissed as Party General Secretary in 1987 after he allowed students in Beijing to hold protest marches calling for democratic reforms. The rallies erupted again after he died, culminating into the massacre in Tiananamen Square on June 4.

Before then, Hu had played a major role in leading the Communist Party out of the Cultural Revolution by rehabilitating hundreds of purged officials and starting a series of reforms and relative openness.

His son Hu Deping continues to speak out on behalf of his father, saying in November that reining in the party's unchecked power was the only way to modernize China.

According to Hong Kong media, last year Hu held talks with incoming Chinese President Xi Jinping, discussing political reforms and that Xi pledged to make changes.

However, China watchers caution not to be too optimistic.

Joseph Cheng, a political analyst at the Chinese University of Hong Kong said the statue did not equal to full rehabilitation.

Memorial for Hu in Tiananmen Square
"There is a bit of tolerance from the part of the leadership," he said. "This doesn't amount to a change of verdict."

Nevertheless we are intrigued by this latest development. This start could lead to finally lead to giving Hu the recognition he deserves in modern Chinese history.

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