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勿忘“天安门”:专访秦晋,兼谈“六•四”与中国未来民主
(博讯北京时间2013年6月11日 转载)
    
    发表于澳洲东部时间2013年6月4日早晨6点39分
     此文分别发表在澳洲主流媒体“对话 The Conversation”和“鼓声 The Drum”

    http://theconversation.com/remembering-tiananmen-chin-jin-june-4th-and-the-future-of-chinese-democracy-14881
    http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/4732216.html
    
    作者:John Keane 约翰•基恩(澳洲悉尼大学政治学教授) 翻译:小隐在山
    
    约翰•基恩教授对中国政治未来具有浓厚的兴趣和热情。他主导的悉尼大学“民主与人权”机构将在6月中承办尊者达赖喇嘛在悉尼大学的公开演讲。
    
    一个政客型国家的老实巴交不闻世事的平头老百姓、媒体所说的“船民”?秦晋都不属于。现在他是庞大的悉尼华人社会里最为出众的民运人士。而他一脚踏上澳洲西部海岸还是三十多年前的事情。一场巨大的台风裹住了他所在的破旧万吨巨轮,但侥幸躲过了船沉海底葬身鱼腹灭顶之灾。“三天三夜,不见太阳,不见月亮,也不见星星”,在悉尼的一个夜晚我们在一起谈天的时候他这么告诉我。“船上所有的人,包括船长在内,都被巨大的风浪震住了。我们很担心生命安全,担心我们的航船会裂开沉没在海浪中。一会儿螺旋桨露出海面飞车,一会儿又顶着船体朝天,船员们感觉到危亡就在顷刻之间” 。
    
    大难不死许有后福,秦晋感觉到天气的迅速变化给了他巨大的政治机遇。他回忆起热带的阳光突然穿透云层,“风停了,海面也开始平静了,几天以后,尽管还是心有余悸,我们停泊在了西澳小海港丹皮尔”。
    
    我问秦晋可否回忆一下对这个以曾经沿着海岸线探寻新荷兰并三次环航世界英国人威廉•丹皮尔名字命名的小城的感觉。“还在中国的时候”,他回答道,“我一直是澳广和美国之音的忠实听众,我是全船唯一能讲些英语的船员,我有这个机会与当地人聊天,而船上政委则告诫我们别乱说乱动”。
    
    “中国的政治指示我们要牢记我们的阶级斗争观,无产者只有解放了全人类才能最后解放自己。然而我们却惊奇地发现,当地的澳洲人并不需要我们去解放他们,他们吃得饱懂礼貌,既没有阶级斗争也没有种族歧视。他们称我们朋友,给我们啤酒,而我们却客气地谢绝了。几个小时以后,我们满载着铁矿砂返航中国了”。
    
    在丹皮尔短短的时刻足以改变秦晋的生活路向,他早就从共产党宣传中醒悟过来,加上国外的见闻见识,他暗自心想一定再来。但是何时、如何再来却无从知晓。这是一道漫长而又艰难的旅程,因对红色暴力和血腥屠戮产生极度失望而走的一条个人航程。
    
    秦晋于1957年出生在江苏省的一个底层工人家庭,才一个月大的时候就随父母亲从乡下到了大上海。他最早的记忆是“大跃进”年代(他偷笑我的误用)非常的生动,讲述的也非常的好。在九岁那年,文革热火朝天的时候,他被安排上街观看公开谴责甚至殴打学术权威和被打倒的高级干部,其中一位干部自杀未遂。
    
    “残忍的痛殴让我震惊,从心底里感到恶心,也让我感到愤怒,尤其是羞辱殴打那位拄着拐杖的,他最终还是自杀了,(他叫常溪萍)。那时我还太年幼,不太清楚那些乱七八糟的具体事情,但是那时的疯狂和残忍却一直让我记忆至今,”他回忆着。还有每家每户悬挂的毛像,“这总让我感到寒颤,无动于衷,我一向不接受毛是中国人民大救星的说词”。
    
    有过一回少年的反抗,有点不知天高地厚,但却是一个勇气和力量改变事物的具足尝试。华东师范大学操场将有一场露天电影,“无数的孩童闻讯而来,云集在校门口”,秦晋回忆着,“大家面面相觑,一大群门卫牢牢地把守着大门。电影很快就要开场了,我不想再等了,不知从哪里来一股勇气,单枪匹马就往大门里面闯。一个门卫一把抓住了我,冲着我吼叫并使劲地掌掴我。由于我的一闯,人群立刻涌动起来,大家都往里面冲,立刻冲破了门卫的警戒线。这一幕真刺激。”
    
    为看露天电影而率性的闯劲是秦晋的人民力量果实的初步品尝。他回忆那个时候的个人激奋没有政治意味,在他整个少年时期,乃至整个青年时期,他既不是政治反对者也不是共党思想的信奉者。
    
    他的父母亲,一个普通工人,一个家庭主妇,抚养着三个孩子,整个家庭平淡无奇。“全家用餐的时候父母亲几乎不谈政治,偶尔嘱咐我们要听毛主席的话,跟共产党走,但我从来都当作耳边风。我有这个胆子敢这么去思想,而我的父母亲不过是随波逐流而已,尽管我们的生活还是比较艰辛的。我们的家很小也很不好,我们家里没有书本,父母亲基本目不识丁,也没有什么严格的家教,但我自学还是很努力的。我喜欢疑问,尽管自己并没有形成固定的思想,后来悉尼大学一位教授送了我一个英语特有词—反叛者。”
    
    文革的狂热很使秦晋困扰。“批斗游街所谓的反革命分子,让他们戴上高帽子,挂上大牌子,这类事情让我很反感。为什么人要被这样对待,我不禁问?他们遭受打击让我感到苦涩,但我什么也没有说,我是一个无声的反叛者。”
    
    外面是恣意的暴虐,公开无情的打击“地富反坏右”,这位工人家庭的长子却安安静静的自我修缮,中学时代一直学习勤奋。他算不上是有天资的学生,但他好学,并且得益于他就读的学校,华东师大第二附属中学。“这对我很重要,帮助我提升了对未来的期待,也帮助了我扩大视野。”
    
    中学毕业后秦晋被分配下乡上海郊外“接受贫下中农再教育”,邓小平官复原职以后的1977年,中国的大学高等教育重新开始,秦晋立刻抓住机会复习迎考,但是错误地选择了理科而非文科。
    
    这对他渴望自我完善是一个很大的挫折,因为错误地听信了那个时代的一句有点莫名其妙的口号“学好数理化,走遍天下都不怕”。他没有考入大学,却进了青岛海运学校。这是他的个性,无所畏惧的秦晋用其他方法提升自己。他努力学习英语,在青岛海校两年半的学习期间,他一直是“澳广”和“美国之音”的忠实听众,毕业后到上海远洋运输公司做一名轮机工。
    
    在民主的历史上,大海具有特别的意义。希腊民主城邦把公民权利给与具有强健臂力为三层浆战船提供动力的低级水手。在现代化海洋强权时代,一望无际的大洋有时可以拱卫雏形民主实验不受军事侵犯(比如年轻的美利坚合众国就是一个典型的例子)。
    
    乔治•奥维尔在他的“狮子和独角兽”一书中说到海上强权是如何相互友好平衡,通向民主是由于船员军事装备不良而无法在陆上进行军事政变。而那些出海的,如秦晋发现的,很快就学到了民主谦卑的真谛:求同存异,相对于复杂浩瀚的世界人类的渺小和脆弱,人类的认识永无止境。
    
    仅二十出头,海员秦晋学到了这些东西,他游历过世界,从上海经过苏伊士运河,到过鹿特丹、汉堡和伦敦,在伦敦去了马克思墓。还是在青岛海校的时候,他就通过收音机收听他以后一直喜欢的邓丽君的歌曲,收听让他了解国际时事的英语节目,他知道了不同的宗教和世界的变化,通过这些节目他了解到菲律宾独裁者马科斯是如何被推翻的。
    
    丹皮尔的美好记忆长留在心间,撼动中共政权基础的1989年“6•4”之前六个多月,还带着母亲新逝的悲痛心情,怀着对中国政府的不满,秦晋离开了中国寻求美好的将来。
    
    那时还年轻,才三十来岁,他向亲友举债,辞去在上海远洋运输公司的工作,获得了澳洲的短期签证,一头扎进了悉尼,就读于剑桥语言学校,改进他的英语。当时澳洲经济不景气,他努力寻找工作,做过水果色拉,在意大利餐馆洗过碗碟。这些工作还能对付与其他中国学生共同租用房屋的开支。
    
    当听闻消息,由于胡耀邦的去世引发了学生抗议,秦晋找到并参加了民运组织“中国民联”。他很高兴,“我是自由的,没有人盯着我”—他的英语带有澳洲音也有带有伦敦音。但是事情的发展非从人愿。
    
    那晚我们谈话进行到一半,秦晋突然变得凝重起来。“1989年6月4日的早晨”,他告诉我,“我正好在我的朋友Balmain的住处,睡得很熟,我被突然叫醒,还是睡眼惺忪的。新闻里充斥了来自北京的可怕消息,北京发生了大屠杀。我穿上衣服就往唐人街跑。”
    
    “已经有很多人在那里了,很多人都在哭号,我也哭了。一会儿,人们一起游行到了中国领事馆,抗议在北京的血腥镇压。我们不清楚血腥暴力到何种程度,往中国的电话都不通,对北京的情况也是支离破碎大概地知晓。很多人又回到唐人街,当夜幕降临时,有人点起了蜡烛。”
    
    从那天晚上起到现在,秦晋一直是执著的民运人士。“六四改变了我,我感觉到一种紧迫感,一股火在我的内心燃起,这个时候我想起清朝有一个很著名的故事,叶赫纳拉诅咒。对照自己,我的意味是,为了正义的事业,哪怕是到了最后关头,弹尽粮绝也决不屈服。我暗下决心为了无辜死去的年轻生命,我决不放弃对中国民主的追求。”
    
    好像是为了宽慰他的痛楚,或许是为了支撑他的信念,秦晋执着于“民主”一词,我提醒他民主不是教条,在我们谈话中好几处我一再追问他究竟他使用最频繁的理想中的民主是什么意味。简单一些就是澳洲式或者美国式的自由公平选举吗?秦晋并没有直接回答我,他说他并非一面倒倾向西方。在他的写作和演讲中他注意到西方国家民众和政客的懦弱性,“我很忧虑西方宁愿以自己的核心价值去兑换短期利益,在中国进行经济投资和贸易,很多西方人相信没有永久朋友和永久的敌人,只有具有相同利益的朋友。”
    
    常常听到中国政府声称中国国情不同,他对此很不以为然,他批评这是对独裁采取绥靖态度的借口,他同样很不认同这种观点,认为与中国保持密切经济往来将最终自动地把中国引向“自由民主”。
    
    民主对他来说意味着什么?“对中国来说”,他回答我,“就是民主联邦共和国,诚如2010年诺贝尔和平奖得主刘晓波,前中共高级干部鲍彤以及其他‘零八宪章’签署人所表示的,有自由选举,当然还不止这些。三权分立,独立的司法和法治,这样当局不能高于法律。有集会自由,信仰自由,记者和普通公民拥有公开发表言论的自由。民主可以拥有独立工会,有社会保障,保护环境尊重人的基本权益。”
    
    秦晋对这些原则的坚定不移是真心实意的,自修得来的,这些没让他书呆子气。这就是为何他在悉尼能全身心地投入推动中国的民主,大声疾呼奋力笔耕,坚守自己的立场和底线,尤其是当胡锦涛2003年在澳洲国会演讲的时候,他的大分贝地质问了胡锦涛(他告诉我他立刻被重新安排到有隔音玻璃的听众区域)。
    
    我发现秦晋很谦逊,容易让人喜爱,人到中年富有智慧,工作勤奋且有献身精神,坚信公平生活俭朴,自掏腰包支撑他追求民主的热望。他每周开三天计程车,漫游在悉尼的大街上,即保证基本收入,也让这位出租司机民运人士常与顾客交谈。静下来思考政治问题,车行时收听新闻广播。
    
    在工余时间,他阅读、写作、组织民运活动。他告诉我他之所以这么做是由这么一个信念所驱动,中国的一党独裁终不能长久,它不断地大量地产生社会不公和持续性社会混乱,在他的新书《求索与守望》(很遗憾尚无英文版)中概括地列出了判断一个制度优劣的一些基本标准,他称之为“四根支柱”,即健全的政治体制、强劲的经济、根植于国民内心的道义良心和环境的可持续性。
    
    尽管共产党一直强调“改进工作作风,紧密联系群众”,秦晋却认为习近平领导下的新政与民主原则和精神相距遥远。中国的知识分子和西方观察家认为习的新政将别无选择地打开专制独裁的封闭盖子,但秦晋的观点与他们不一样。“西方目睹了中国三十年的经济的发展,实力的扩张,成为世界强权,全世界赞叹中国的经济成就 ”,他说,“麻烦却是中国政府技巧地利用了由国外资本支持而积累起来的巨大购买力在输出自己的软实力。”
    
    秦晋这时面有愠色。很好理解,中国政府善于长袖善舞,由于他的政治观点给他穿小鞋。他(自2005年以后)拿不到签证返回中国看望他年老病重的父亲,而且就在最近他上海的家人转告了警方对秦晋的再度警诫。这些作为更加证实了这个政权缺乏人性,但他常引中国古诗“饥不从猛虎食”自我鞭策。他不同意西方的幻想,“认为经济发展必然导致政治变化和民主”。
    
    秦晋在盘点习近平是这么表明他的观点的,“自从胡赵以后,中国共产党内再也没有为国为民的领导人了。他们的思维模式就是尽量保持对权力的绝对控制。江泽民是这样,胡锦涛也是这样,今天的习近平还是这样。习近平的思想意识不过是井蛙观天,他的能力和眼光只在于维护中国共产党的少数人的私利,心里无法装下全中国人民的公益。”
    
    很享受的一个夜晚即将过去,我们还没有谈到“中国的将来”这个话题。我问秦晋“民主化”的前景将是怎样,既然自上而下动力诚如他所叙述的不存在,我们是否可以看看“08宪章”的可行性?他微微地笑了,“当然我无法确知何时,但一定会发生,现政权无法继续下去,要求变化,就需要各种外力的交替作用。”
    
    突然间我反应过来了,想起了美国第七舰队,黄蜂隐形轰炸机,秦晋思考中所谓的软性实力。他作为一位流亡海外的政治异见人士,为中国民主运动大声疾呼、勤于笔耕、组织运作,虽然温和但卓有成效。他有视野努力促成包括台湾、香港和流亡藏人在内的更广泛的力量,并且在向宪政民主迈进过程中还需要外部的帮助和支持。秦晋如是说:“香港人在这一刻站起來争自由争民主,那不只是争得香港人的民主,甚至可以争得全体中国人的民主。如果中国大陆的民怨像一个炸药库,那么香港就是一根导火索。”
    
    他对台湾的现况和走势则不那么乐观。公开多元但又乱糟糟的台湾政治不就是未来中国的样板?我继续问到,中国民运人士不感觉到由台湾存在的幸运?“台湾很微妙”,他回答:“台湾是民主的灯塔,但是马英九国民党政府安于现状,失去了逐鹿中原的锐气,也放弃了对于全体中国人民的道义责任。”
    
    他继续讲到他与尊者达赖喇嘛的往来互动。秦晋将第四次主持这位精神领袖演讲会,与悉尼华人面对面进行沟通和对话。秦晋感佩尊者长期坚持的“和平理性非暴力”,确信很多藏人和中国人民都是中共的受害者。
    
    尽管北京一再给予正面的保证和承诺,他还是担忧西藏文化的消失。藏人争取有实际意义的高度自治,甚至成为一个缓冲地带,因此他希望未来的中国是一个民主联邦,这样可以给与西藏一个类似于香港和澳门同等的自治地位。
    
    西藏究竟是在民主联邦中国框架之内或者之外获得高度自治对我来说尚不明确,但是我们的话题从西藏返回到了“六•四”屠杀事件。已经24年了,为何还念念不忘?我问秦晋。连续七个星期北京学生占据天安门广场,静坐绝食,全副武装的军人手持冲锋枪驾驶坦克冲入广场,残酷地镇压了有百万人参与的运动,大约高达三千人丧生,民主女神像被撞毁。不仅仅北京发生了这一幕,在上海、西安等其他几十个城市发生了类似的学生运动。
    
    诚然,所有的结局都很悲壮。四分之一世纪过去了,为何不能让过去的就过去了?为何不去接受中国的一句老话“旧的不去,新的不来”?“一些人是已经忘记了”,秦晋承认,但又很快补上,牢记“六•四”屠城事件是要搞清楚是非曲直。“政治局内部密谋,何人下令开枪至今都是个谜,比如是邓小平还是李鹏?没有人公开站出来认领这份殊荣,承担这个责任。死者姓名不披露,亲属得不到抚恤”。
    
    秦晋又一次神情凝重,“‘六•四’之所以特殊有另一个原因,不仅仅是天安门广场有史以来最大的军事镇压,而且还是近代中国历史上的一个转折点,争取民主遭受严重挫折,同时中共的脸上被划了一道抹不去的丑陋疤痕,中共试图淡化‘六•四’的意义,原来称之为‘反革命暴乱’,现在改称‘政治风波’。事实上,‘六•四’的重要在于告示人们中国民主追求源远流长,可追溯到百年前的孙中山革命”。
    
    现在不少中国知识分子对“六•四”的思考有不同的看法,他们理解“六•四”是改善“社会主义” 激进呼声的全面失败。显然这是用权力制衡权力的尝试,秦晋则希望“六•四”作为一个民主引爆点激起更大范围的一系列事件的发生。“中国民主化是一个未尽事业,天安门事件表明了中国不可能再有戈尔巴乔夫式人物从体制内推动新思维运动,今天的中共党内,没有高瞻远瞩的人物,期待他们推动中国民主化是不切实际的。‘六•四’可以继续激发人们,成为未来的一个标志,也即民主终将在中国获得胜利。”
    
    我们即将分手,秦晋引用了20世纪中国大作家鲁迅的诗句:不再沉默中爆发,便在沉默中死亡。不忘“6•4”,对于每一位有政治良知的人来说,都具有个人的重要意义,他坚持着。
    
    已经很晚了,我试图跟秦晋开个小玩笑。为何不能放下心里的怨恨?为何至今保持着痛苦的记忆?秦晋稍稍想了一下,讲到为了保持一个希望,令我惊奇的是,他引用了罗伯特•肯尼迪的话:“每当一个人为他人而坚持自己的理念和行为去迎战非正义”,秦晋一边说着,一边从他的记事本中寻找,“他们就向外传送了一个小小的希望涟漪。千百万人这么做,这些单一的涟漪就可汇成洪流冲刷走最坚实的专制和反动的高墙”。
    
    随着今年纪念日的越来越近,广州警方(出乎寻常地)同意本地居民在6月4日公开游行的申请。前几天,天安门母亲们发出公开信,批评“中国领导人一个接着一个,像走马灯似的,越走越远,越走越离谱。希望已渐消失,绝望正渐逼近”。
    
    当然这些纪念活动也许不再是一个孤立事件,却是日薄西山的一党独裁的“幽幻民主”新变种,一种全世界还从未见识的新鲜玩艺儿。如果这位以开车为生的谦逊的民运人士最终是正确的,情形将会是怎样?如果人们如秦晋所期待的那样大胆藐视中共强制性遗忘,开始反作用并且汇形成新的力量将会怎样?这是否发出信号,活着的人需要死去的人来得到民主是否是一个取胜之道?集中力量是产生突破的的关键,史无前例的公开纪念“六•四”,控诉可怖的流血和政府的无道是否像前迈出重大的一步?
    
    多亏秦晋的孜孜不倦和谦逊谨慎,这些问题公开的提问,也得到公开的回答。而位高权重的人宁愿选择三缄其口。
    
    
    图片1,1989年6月4日北京天安门广场内外的屠杀应在全世界纪念
    图片2,1989年5月30日中央美院学生在天安门广场矗立起来的民主女神雕像
    图片3,民主女神像被捣毁的过程,一位无名人士拍摄下来
    图片4,秦晋1981年在伦敦马克思慕前
    图片5,1989年6月6日悉尼广场愤怒的人群
    图片6,1990年9月秦晋与民阵首任主席严家祺在旧金山民阵“二大”上
    图片7,2003年10月24日胡锦涛在澳洲国会演讲,约一个小时前秦晋对媒体发表谈话
    图片8,秦晋新作《求索与守望》的封面
    图片9,2008年6月15日秦晋主持达赖喇嘛尊者对澳洲华人的公开演讲会
    图片10,1992年4月4日悉尼民运人士在贝尔摩公园举行“清明”纪念活动,悼念天安门死者
    
    
    http://theconversation.com/remembering-tiananmen-chin-jin-june-4th-and-the-future-of-chinese-democracy-14881
    4 June 2013, 6.39am EST
    Remembering Tiananmen: Chin Jin, June 4th and the future of Chinese democracy
    An earthy citizen of a country led by politicians and journalists bugged by “boat people”, Chin Jin fits no standard categories. Now the foremost democrat in Sydney’s thriving Chinese community, he first set foot on the north-west shores of Australia over 30 years ago, after narrowly surviving a ferocious typhoon in a rusted cargo ship.
    “For three days, we saw no sun, no moon, no stars,” he tells me during an evening together in Sydney. “Everybody on board, including our captain, grew violently ill. We feared for our lives. We worried the ship would split apart, or just sink under the waves. One minute its propellers roared in mid-air. Next minute it plunged headlong into a sea so angry we felt doomed.”
    Peril sometimes delivers the oddest miracles, as Chin Jin discovered when a rapid change of weather granted him a grand political surprise. He describes how the tropical sun suddenly cut through the clouds. The winds dropped. “The waters around us grew calm. Several days later, still trembling and sea sick, we docked at the tiny port town of Dampier.”
    I ask Chin Jin to recall his first-ever impressions of the town named after the first-ever Englishman (William Dampier) to explore the coastline of New Holland and to circumnavigate the world three times. “Back in China,” he replies, “I’d long been a fan of Radio Australia. I was the only crew member who spoke English, so I had a chance to talk to the locals. Our ship’s Party Commissar warned us to be vigilant.”
    “He instructed us to remember our historic struggle as Chinese workers to liberate the workers of all countries. Well, we were surprised. The locals didn’t look as though they needed liberating. They were well-fed and friendly. No signs of class antagonism, or racism. They called us "mate”, with offers of beer. We politely declined. A few hours later, we headed back to China, our ship loaded with iron ore."
    One short day in Dampier was enough to change Chin Jin’s life. Disabused of Communist Party propaganda and fascinated by the strangers he’d encountered, he vowed to return down under. When and how New Holland would again come his way he didn’t know. It would be a long and not altogether easy journey, a personal voyage pitted with disappointment, revolutionary violence and a military massacre.
    Born into a poor working class family in 1957 in the east-coastal province of Jiangsu, Chin Jin moved with his parents from their small rural town to the metropolis of Shanghai when he was just a month old. His earliest memories of his own “Great Leap Forward” (he chuckles at my misuse of the phrase) are vivid, and told well. Around the age of nine, with the Cultural Revolution in full frenzy, he was summoned by adults to the streets to witness the public denunciation and beating of academics and a purged senior Communist Party official who’d just botched an attempt to commit suicide.
    “The violence frightened me. I felt sick inside. It also made me angry, especially because the humiliated official on crutches was so distraught that eventually he found a way of taking his life. I was too young to understand the messy details, but the brutality of it all stayed with me until today,” he recalls. So did the compulsory kitchen portrait of Mao. “It always left me cold. I felt nothing. I refused to swallow the lie that Mao was the saviour of the Chinese people.”
    Then there was the first bout of teenage resistance, innocent but enough for him to taste courage and its power to change things. An open-air film screening in a local sports ground was announced by the authorities. “Hearing the news, a massive crowd quickly gathered,” says Chin Jin, suddenly looking cheeky. “Anticipation ran high. There was great excitement, but for some reason the guards refused to open the gates into the sports ground where the screening was soon to happen. I couldn’t bear to wait. Without quite knowing why, I bolted. In front of the huge crowd, a guard grabbed me, shouted and slapped me around. As if to take the heat off me, the whole crowd suddenly surged forward, through the barricades. They bolted, too. It was thrilling.”
    The unauthorised rush for a spot in the open-air cinema was Chin Jin’s first taste of people power. At the time, he recalls, the personal thrill had no political significance. Throughout his teenage years, and well into his twenties, he was neither a dissident nor a Party-minded believer.
    His parents, a housewife mother of three children and textile factory worker father, were cut from the same cloth. “They didn’t talk politics at meal times. There were moments when they urged us to listen to Communist Party speeches and to praise Mao, but I always turned a deaf ear. I had the gut feeling that like most people we knew, my parents were simply going along with the routine, despite our hardship. Our home was small and shabby. We had no books, my parents were virtually illiterate, but in a curious way the absence of ideology at home encouraged me to get on with my own learning. I was inclined to be sceptical, even though I had no well-formed opinions of my own. One of my acquaintances later called me a maverick (fan pan zhe).”
    
    The frenzy of the Cultural Revolution forced young Chin Jin to put his nose to the grindstone. “Such things as the public parading and criticism (pi dou you jie) of so-called counter-revolutionaries dressed in big paper hats and sandwich boards disturbed me. Why should people be treated like that, I wondered? Their humiliation left a bad taste in my mouth, but I zipped my lips. I was a silent maverick.”
    
    Amidst the random violence, the mad public attacks on landlords, rich peasants, revisionists and rightists, the first-born son of a working class family quietly set his sights on self-improvement. He worked hard during his middle school years. He wasn’t a gifted or brilliant student, but his interest in learning was reinforced by the fact that his middle school was attached to Shanghai’s East China Normal University. “The connection was an important symbol for me. It lifted my expectations, encouraged me to widen my horizons.”
    After graduation from middle school, Chin Jin was forced into a program of “re-education by the poor and lower-middle peasants” in the countryside outside of Shanghai. When Deng Xiaoping won control of the Communist Party leadership (in 1977), universities in China began to re-open. About to finish his stint as a “revolutionary worker”, Chin Jin naturally jumped at the chance of sitting entrance examinations, for a place at East China Normal University, to study science, rather than the humanities.
    It was a wild stab, more a yearning for self-improvement, but his decision to follow the Maoist slogan “good command of mathematics and physics will everywhere succeed” proved fanciful. He failed to win a place. Fresh back from the countryside, the young Shanghai worker was down, but not out. True to character, intrepid Chin Jin found other means of expanding his horizons. He worked on his English, becoming an avid listener to Radio Australia and Voice of America; and after two and a half years’ training at the Qingdao Marine Transport School, he landed a job as a motorman on vessels operated out of Shanghai by the China Ocean Shipping Company.
    In the history of democracy, the sea has special significance. Greek democracies extended citizenship to low-ranked sailors whose muscle power fuelled naval triremes. In the age of modern sea power, vast oceans sometimes protected fledgling democratic experiments from military invasion (the young American republic is an obvious case in point).
    George Orwell noted in The Lion and the Unicorn how sea-faring powers were on balance friendlier towards democracy because naval crews are ill-equipped to stage military coups on land. And those who go to sea, as Chin Jin discovered, quickly learn the democratic virtue of humility: respect for the elements, a deep sense of human frailty shadowed by the vast complexity of our world, the acknowledgement that human horizons are never fixed.
    Now in his early twenties, able-bodied seaman Chin Jin learned those lessons. He sailed the world, from Shanghai through the Suez Canal, taking in ports from Shanghai to Rotterdam, Hamburg and London (where he visited the grave of Karl Marx). The ship’s long-wave radio picked up pop songs (the Taiwanese star Teresa Teng remains his all-time favourite) and English-language programs that introduced him to current affairs and different religions and brought news of world events, like the dramatic overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos, the Philippines dictator.
    But it was fond memories of Dampier that stayed with him. Six months before the June 4th uprisings that rocked Chinese communism to its roots, saddened by the sudden death of his mother and not much impressed by the Deng Xiaoping reforms, Chin Jin decided to better his life.
    Still youthful (he was now 31), the bluejacket borrowed money from friends and relatives, quit his job at the China Ocean Shipping Company, obtained an Australian short-term visa and headed for Sydney, with the aim of perfecting his English. He enrolled at Cambridge College in Hurstville, in south Sydney, and lessons went well. The local economy was tight, yet he managed to find part-time jobs, first as a fruit processor then as a dishwasher in an Italian restaurant. The work brought in just enough for him to share a small flat with other Chinese immigrants.
    After hearing news of the student protests triggered in China in April 1989 by the death of the deposed reformer Hu Yaobang, Chin Jin made contact with a group called the Chinese Alliance for Democracy. He was happy enough – “I felt free, nobody looked over my shoulder” – and his English, spoken with tones somewhere between the ABC and the BBC, advanced. But things didn’t quite turn out as expected.
    Halfway through our evening conversation, Chin Jin suddenly grows tense. “On the morning of June 4th, 1989,” he tells me, “I happened to be staying at a mate’s place in Balmain [in Sydney’s inner west]. Sound asleep, I was suddenly awakened by an English word I’ll never forget: massacre. My eyes were barely open, but I panicked. The news that morning was so full of terrible stories from Beijing that I threw on my clothes and hurried to Chinatown.
    “A huge crowd had already gathered in the streets. Many people were weeping and wailing. I cried, too. A little while later, we marched on the Chinese consulate, to protest against the violent crack-down. We didn’t know the full extent of the horrible violence. Telephone links with China were cut. Details were sketchy. But that night thousands of us defied our normal routines. We re-grouped in Chinatown, standing in silence, in a candlelight vigil.”
    From that evening until this day, Chin Jin became a committed democrat. “June 4th changed me. I felt a sense of urgency. A fire burned inside me. It was a moment described in a well-known Chinese story from the Qing dynasty, when the last remaining noblewoman from the conquered city of Yehe pledges to give her life for the cause of freedom from Manchurian rule. Translated into my life, it meant: when people find themselves with their backs to the wall, reduced to a powerless minority, they must resist the injustice they suffer, with all their might, until their last drop of energy. That’s how it was for me. I vowed never – never – to give up on the democracy for which young people had given their lives.”
    As if to console his pain, or perhaps to bolster his conviction, Chin Jin sticks close to the little word minzhu (democracy). I remind him that democracy is not dogma, that ideally it is its powerful corrective, so at various points during our conversation I press him to tell me exactly what he means by the well-used word. Is it simply a Chinese version of Australian- or American-style free and fair elections?
    
    Not straightforwardly, I learn. Chin Jin explains how he’s no pro-Western warrior. His writings and speeches in fact draw attention to the sheepishness of many citizens and representatives of Western countries. “I’m gravely concerned about the West’s willingness to barter away its core values for short-term interests: economic investment and trade with China. It’s as if many in the West believe there are no permanent friends and enemies, only friends with the same interests.”
    He savages the oft-heard Chinese government insistence that “China is a different civilisation”. It’s an excuse for “appeasing dictatorship”, he insists. He’s equally tough on the view that closer economic ties with China will lead somehow automatically or eventually to “liberal democracy”.
    So what does democracy mean to him? “For China,” he tells me, “it’s the vision of a federated democratic republic outlined by Liu Xiaobo [winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize], Bao Tong [a former senior Communist Party official] and other signatories of the political manifesto known as Charter ’08 [lingbaxianzhang]. Free elections, yes, but much more than that. It’s the separation of powers, an independent judiciary and the rule of law, so that the authorities never stand above the law. It’s freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, the freedom of journalists and citizens to report things openly. Democracy is independent trade unions. It’s social security, protection of the environment and respect for human rights.”
    
    Chin Jin’s unswerving attachment to these principles is heart-felt and self-taught. They’re not bookish. It’s why he’s devoted his life in Sydney to the cause of promoting democracy in China through broadcasting and writing and taking a stand, as he did by loudly heckling Hu Jintao during his 2003 address to a joint session of the Australian parliament (he tells me he was promptly “re-directed” to its sound-proof gallery).
    I discover Chin Jin’s a humble soul, a likeable bloke sailing through mid-life equipped with good wit, dedication to hard work and a tough-as-nails belief in equality. Some of his white mates call him “John”. Living modestly in a rented flat, Chin Jin funds his passion for democracy by driving a taxi three days a week. Roaming the streets of Sydney brings in dollars, gives the taxi-driver democrat time to talk to passengers, to think about politics and to snatch snippets of radio news.
    He spends his free time reading, writing, organising in support of an activist network called the China Democracy Forum. He tells me that its work is driven by the conviction that one-party rule in China cannot last because it produces massive injustices and constant disorders. In his recently-published book of speeches and essays, My Quest for Democracy in China (unfortunately there’s no English translation yet), he outlines the basic criteria for judging the performance of the present system. He calls them the “four pillars”. They include “a well-developed political system, a robust and healthy internal and external economy, embedded social morality and environmental sustainability”.
    Despite constant Party talk of “improving work style” and getting “closer to the people”, Chin Jin’s convinced that the new government led by Xi Jinping falls far short of these democratic principles. He’s at odds with Chinese intellectuals and Western observers who think the new Party leadership has no option but to unscrew the lids of dictatorship. “Westerners have witnessed the expansion of the Chinese economy and the rise of China as a great international power during the past three decades. The world admires the economic achievements and progress of China,” he says. “Trouble is the Chinese government skilfully takes great advantage of its accumulated massive purchasing power backed by foreign capital and the export of Chinese soft power.”
    Chin Jin looks irritated. Understandably so, because the long arm of the Chinese government has for some time punished him for his dissident views. He’s regularly been denied a visa to return to China to spend time with his elderly father; and, quite recently, his family in Shanghai received stern warnings from the police. Such harassment feeds his conviction that the regime is rotten. “Eat not food offered by a fierce tiger despite hunger.” he says, quoting an ancient Chinese proverb. It is his way of saying that he’s personally against Western illusions “centred on the belief that commerce will lead inevitably to political change and democracy”.
    Chin Jin’s assessment of the Xi Jinping government sums up his views. “Since the demise of Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang, party bosses with a heart for people’s needs are no more. The whole mindset of the CCP is geared to retaining absolute control of political power for as long as possible. Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao behaved like this. Xi Jinping behaves in the same way. He’s like the frog in the well: his vision and will are limited to the single task of protecting the selfish interests of the Party dynasty, not the public good.”
    Our spirited evening together begins to draw to an end, but not before we move to the subject of China’s future. I ask Chin Jin to talk about the prospects in China for democratic breakthroughs [minzhuhua]. Given the top-down power dynamics that he’s just described, are we ever going to see the practical realisation ofCharter ’08 principles? He lets out a gut chuckle. “Of course, we are. We don’t know when, but it’s bound to happen. The present system can’t last, but for change to happen foreign intervention will be needed.”
    
    I suddenly recoil, thinking of the US 7th Fleet, or drones and stealth bombers, but soft power is what Chin Jin has in mind. He thinks of his own broadcasting and writing and organising work for the China Democracy Forum as modest but militant contributions of a dissident-in-exile, as political work that forms part of a much bigger process that already includes Taiwan and Hong Kong and the resistance of Tibetans. It’s a vision of a transition to constitutional democracy supported by outside friends. “The people of Hong Kong are striving to save not only themselves, but the whole of China from the monopoly rule of the Chinese Communist Party,” he says. “If the civil discontent within mainland China proves explosive, then Hong Kong will be its fuse.”
    He’s less optimistic about current trends in Taiwan. Isn’t the rough-and-tumble openness and pluralism of Taiwan a political counter-model for the future of China, I ask? Aren’t Chinese democrats lucky to have Taiwan? “The situation in Taiwan is more subtle,” he replies. “It’s a democratic lighthouse. But the Ma Ying-jeou nationalist government is content with the status quo. It’s lost the courage to compete in Chinese politics. It has abandoned its moral responsibility to the people of China.”
    He goes on to speak with great reverence about His Holiness the Dalai Lama, with whom he’s good friends. Chin Jin is about to host the spiritual leader’s fourth face-to-face meeting with representatives of Sydney’s Chinese community. He’ll be emphasising the fundamental long-term importance of his special guest’s “advocacy of peace, rationality and non-violence”. Chin Jin’s sure that “many Tibetans and Chinese people are victims of the Chinese Communist Party”.
    He worries that despite positive reassurances from Beijing, Tibetan culture may disappear; and he therefore calls for a new global dialogue in support of the vision of a federated China that makes room for Tibet as a “neutral or independent state, like Switzerland”, or perhaps as a region enjoying “meaningful autonomy like Hong Kong or Macau”.
    Whether Tibetan autonomy could happen within or without a new democratic federation of China remains unclear to me, but our talk of Tibet brings us back to the subject of the June 4th uprising. Twenty-four years after the massacre, why should we bother remembering its bloody details, I ask Chin Jin? After seven weeks of hunger strikes, sit-ins and a student-led occupation of Tiananmen Square, troops with assault rifles, armoured personnel carriers and battle tanks confronted a crowd of nearly a million citizens. Perhaps upwards of three thousand citizens were killed. The goddess of democracy was slaughtered. Uprisings took place not just in Beijing, but in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Xi’an and an estimated 400 other cities.
    Yes, it all ended badly. But after nearly a quarter-century, why not let bygones be bygones? Why not embrace the old Chinese idiom “if the old doesn’t go, the new doesn’t arrive”? “Some people haven’t forgotten,” Chin Jin snaps, before quickly adding that remembering the June 4th massacre is necessary for setting the whole vexed story straight. “Details of the clandestine plot within the CCP Politburo and who ordered the bloodshed in Tiananmen Square still remain a mystery. Was it Deng Xiaoping or Li Peng, for instance? No one has dared to stand up and claim responsibility. Not even the names of those who were killed have been published. Their relatives have received no apology, and no compensation.”
    Chin Jin again grows tense. “June 4th is a special day for another reason. It saw not only the biggest-ever display of military force in Tiananmen. It was a turning point in recent Chinese history, a major setback in the struggle for democracy, certainly. But it left a nasty scar on the face of the CCP government. They’ve since tried to play down its significance. Once they called it a “counter-revolutionary riot”. Now it’s been downgraded to a mere “political storm”. Actually, the June 4th massacre is important because it’s a reminder that democracy in China has older roots, traceable for instance to the work and writings of Dr Sun Yat-sen.”
    More than a few Chinese intellectuals now think of June 4th differently. They have come to see the June 4th massacre as the moment when the loud Leftist voices in favour of improving “socialism” were finally defeated. It was certainly a public attempt to check power with power and it is in this sense that Chin Jin thinks of the June 4th massacre as a democratic tipping point within a wider series of tipping points. “Democracy in China is unfinished business. Tiananmen showed just how unlikely it is that a Gorbachev will arise from within the structures to push for perestroika with glasnost. Today, there aren’t any farsighted figures at the top of the Chinese Communist Party. To wish for political reform in line with the historical trend of democratisation is therefore naïve. The June 4th massacre will for that reason continue to inspire people. It remains a sign of things to come – the eventual victory of democracy in China.”
    As we prepare to part, Chin Jin quotes the great 20th-century Chinese writer Lu Xun: “anger either breaks the silence, or dies in silence”. Remembering June 4th should be personally important to anybody with a political conscience, he insists.
    
    It’s late and I risk annoying Chin Jin by playing devil’s advocate. Why not let anger die away? Why preserve painful memories? Chin Jin flinches, thinks for a moment, talks of the need for hope and, to my surprise, he ends with words drawn from a speech by Bobby Kennedy. “Each time an individual stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice,” says Chin Jin, checking his notes, “they send forth a tiny ripple of hope. From a million different centres of energy and daring, those individual ripples build a current that can sweep away the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
    With the approach of this year’s anniversary of the massacre, Guangzhou police (unusually) agreed to process an application by local residents for a public march on June 4th. In recent days, the Mothers of Tiananmen have issued an open letter in which they say that China’s leaders “come one after another, as if through a revolving door; and as they move forward, they become ever more distant and outrageous, causing a universal feeling of despair to descend on the people from all sides”.
    It is of course possible that these acts of remembrance are no more than isolated incidents, mere markers on the downhill road to a new form of one-party “phantom democracy”, the contours of which the world has never before seen. But what if the humble Sydney taxi-driver democrat turned out to be right? What if brave acts of defiance of the Communist Party’s compulsory forgetting began to criss-cross and converge in the way Chin Jin expects? Wouldn’t that signal a practical victory for the principle that democracy among the living requires democracy among the dead? Wouldn’t the convergence be a vital breakthrough, a big step towards the first-ever open public remembrance of June 4th and its terrible bloodshed and injustice?
    Thanks to the tireless energy of humble citizens like Chin Jin, such questions are now being asked openly, even though certain men of power in high places much prefer to hold their tongues. _(博讯自由发稿区发稿) (博讯 boxun.com)
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