To be a good communist in China, one must obey the house rules of the Chinese Communist Party.
House Rule No. 1: do not curse in political discourse. Peng Dehuai cursed, and he was punished. At the famous Lushan Conference in 1959, Marshal Peng Dehuai, a Politburo member and defense minister, had a shouting match with Chairman Mao Zedong. The topic under discussion was the consequences of the Great Leap Forward policy. Peng wanted to inform Mao of severe catastrophes caused by this policy, and Mao reacted defensively. The two then engaged in an oral confrontation, and Peng used the F-word. Mao had cursed his mother (ma niang) for 40 days during the Rectification Campaign in 1945, Peng reasoned; it would be only fair if he could curse Mao’s mother for 20 days. Subsequent to Peng’s curse, he was labeled as the head of an “Anti-Party Clique” and was removed as defense minister.
House Rule No. 2: do not disagree with the leader. Liu Shaoqi did not curse, but disagreed with Mao, and he was also punished. At a major conference in 1962 to reflect on the Great Leap Forward policy, Liu Shaoqi, president of the People’s Republic of China, carefully expressed his own assessment. Mao’s standard template had been 90 percent achievements and 10 percent problems. But Liu proposed a new formula of 70 percent versus 30 percent. Consequently, Liu Shaoqi was expelled forever from the Party as “renegade traitor and scab” in 1968 and died under torture soon thereafter.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
House Rule No. 3: do not praise the leader excessively. Marshal Lin Biao neither cursed nor disagreed with Mao but he praised the leader too excessively. He was also punished. He used “four greats” to describe Mao. According to him, Mao was a great teacher, great leader, great commander, and great helmsman. However, Mao, a graduate of a normal school for teachers, only accepted the title of great teacher. Lin later died in a plane crash in an escape to the Soviet Union in 1971 and was downgraded from “Chairman Mao’s closest comrade-in-arms and successor” to “bourgeois careerist, conspirator, double-dealer, and traitor.”
Since he is still under investigation, it is not clear which rules Ling Jihua violated. Always hard-working with a gentle smile, it is unlikely that he ever cursed. It is also unlikely that he disagreed with the leader over major policies. The only evidence that is not in his favor is that he praised the leader a bit excessively. During a loyalty campaign from February to April 2013, 53 PLA generals referred to “Chairman Xi” an average of only 2.62 times, with the minimum of zero times and the maximum of 11 times. But in one article published on December 15, 2014, Ling mentioned “General Secretary Xi Jinping” 19 times, 16 times more than the average and eight times more than anyone else!
How could he be a good communist?
Professor BO Zhiyue, a leading authority on Chinese elite politics in the world, will take up an appointment in January 2015 as Director of the New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre (NZCCRC) and Professor of Political Science at Victoria University of Wellington. The only nation-wide research center on contemporary China in the world, NZCCRC aims to be a global leader in knowledge generation and knowledge sharing on political, economic, and social life of contemporary China among tertiary institutions, business sector, and policy community for the benefit of New Zealand. Based in Victoria University of Wellington, the Centre has seven member universities: Victoria University of Wellington, the University of Auckland, Auckland University of Technology, the University of Canterbury, the University of Otago, the University of Waikato, and Lincoln University.