The passing of the old guard

Final advice from Bo Yibo?

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Zheng Xiaoyu is not the only deceased official whose "last words" are circulating online.

Excerpts from nineteen conversations between Bo Yibo, the veteran statesman who passed away in January, and high-ranking party officials recently appeared on Chinese BBSs. Here's Ye Pengfei's report from Singapore's Lianhe Zaobao:

Because the content of the "Conversations" was so sensitive, touching on many current political issues, and because there are all kinds of rumors circulating through the bookshops about the time and organization of the 17th Party Congress, the open statement that Bo Yibo's daughter made through the official media disavowing any connection with the "Conversations" will certainly become a source for popular conversation.

The online population was of two minds about the "Conversations." Some people were dubious about the authenticity of the document, and some even judged it as entirely fabricated. But more people agreed with the viewpoints it presented. A netizen wrote, "When people are close to death, their words are good," and others thought that Bo Yibo was "perhaps the Elder with a conscience." "Evidently there's that little bit of awareness in the CPC."

After Deng Xiaoping passed away in 1997, the so-called "Last Words of Deng Xiaoping" circulated overseas. Deng's family categorically denied any connection to those "Last Words."

The statement from Bo Yibo's daughter appeared on People Online:

Recently, "Bo Yibo's nineteen conversations" have appeared online. Bo Yibo's daughter has made a solemn declaration that the document is entirely spurious. Her statement is as follows:

My father Bo Yibo was hospitalized with cancer in October, 2005, and five months later slipped into a coma and lost the ability to express himself. The "nineteen conversations" and "last words" are completely nonexistent.

A party member since 1925, he has been in the party for more than 80 years. He has loved the party the entire time. He reveres Mao Zedong, he supports the reform and opening up, and he has the utmost confidence in the future of the party and of the country. This document is an invention, a painstaking fabrication that has an obvious ulterior motive to disrupt the public. Out of a sense of responsibility to the public and to the media, I hereby offer this clarification.

As Ye Pengfei predicted, this statement caught the attention of bloggers and forum posters, who typically posted it with the actual Nineteen Conversations document attached.

For reference, a translation of that document is included below. Danwei passes no judgment on its authenticity.


Last October, Bo Yibo's illness worsened; on 16 October, his team of expert doctors issued a notice about his "worsened condition." It continued sending "critical illness notifications" on 25 December, 6 January, and again on 11 January. After the Central Committee Political Bureau received the notices of Bo Yibo's worsened condition, it issued an order that the 305 Hospital, the 301 Hospital, the Union Hospital, the Beijing Hospital, and the Sino-Japanese Friendship Hospital set up four expert teams to be on constant duty. At the same time, the CPC Central Committee General Office, the Organization Department, and the Central Bureau of Retired Veteran Cadres Organization Team came to solicit Bo Yibo's opinions on national and party principles, policy, work, and development.

From 20 October last year until 6 January this year, Bo Yibo had nineteen conversations with groups of people that included Hu Jintao, Wen Jiabao, Wu Bangguo, Wan Li, Song Ping, Qiao Shi, Jiang Zemin, and children of veteran statesmen, whose visits to Yibo were recorded.

The nineteen conversations amounted to 21 hours and 20 minutes - fifty-thousand characters on seventy-seven pages of transcript. After organizing them under the title "Comrade Bo Yibo's opinions and recommendations on strategy, guiding principles, and policy", known internally as "Old Bo's Last Words," they ran to roughly 80,700 characters.

In Bo's last words, he stressed "the death of the party and the death of the country" (亡党亡国) and "the death of the party and chaos in the country" (亡党乱国) seven times. Though Bo Yibo was over ninety years old, he understood the present governmental and societal situation like the back of his hand, for he was one of the eleven retired members of the government and military leadership of the CPC who could review Politburo Standing Committee documents; the others are: Jiang Zemin, Wan Li, Qiao Shi, Li Peng, Zhu Rongji, Li Ruihuan, Song Ping, Liu Huaqing, Wei Jianxing, and Li Lanqing.

Below are some excerpts of Bo Yibo's last words:

Bo Yibo's last words: the superiority of the socialist system

Not to have realized the superiority of the socialist system fifty-seven years after the founding of New China has brought the people disappointment and frustration; at the very least we cannot say that the socialist system of society has already succeeded. If we do not properly resolve the superiority of the socialist system of society, if the people cannot enjoy the superiority of toe socialist system of society, then our party will lose a rallying point and coherence, lose the base of its power, and will face a crisis of the death of the party and chaos in the country.

Never forget the positive and negative examples from history, and do not fear to reflect on them. Since 1949, along a twisting road that cannot be called short, a heavy price has been paid. During the years of the Cultural Revolution, there was widespread discontent across the country and the party and nation were pushed toward the edge of collapse. I still support letting the younger generation understand the Cultural Revolution, that bitter, catastrophic period of history. This was a great error of the communist party, but ultimately the communist party made a historic correction. No ruling party is entirely free from error. A communist party that does not deign to cover up its own mistakes is the stance of Marxism.

Bo Yibo's last words: an evaluation of Mao Zedong's life

The party's internal evaluation of the life of Mao Zedong has been divided for some time. There is still blind faith toward Mao on the part of the older generation; we fear that a further appraisal of Mao will affect the history of the party, the historical positions and accomplishments of our seniors, and party unity. This is not an attitude that should be part of materialism. The successes and mistakes Mao Zedong made in his life cannot be distorted; the individual must be separate from the party and the government. It is now time to open up the files on the 1950s, 1960s, and the Cultural Revolution for all the people to know.

Mao Zedong is not a Marxist; when he was alive, Mao Zedong said many times that he was a rebel against feudalism, an insurgent in the peasant movement, a leader of the struggle. But where in fact is the greatness when you call Mao Zedong a Great Marxist - he wouldn't believe it himself. [Deng] Xiaoping, Chen Yun, Old Peng [Zhen] said at meetings on multiple occasions: Mao Zedong bears the deep scars of feudalism; he is a peasant revolutionary. To say that Mao Zedong is a Great Marxist is false, to a large degree. The period of history after 1949, when he had struggle as both the internal and the external line to the point where both the party and the country faced destruction, is left for the next generation and the one after that to issue a verdict.

Bo Yibo's last words: the current crisis of the ruling party

Today, the communist party's ruling position cannot be said to be immovable. The reform and opening up is correct; if there was no reform or opening up, if economic development was not set up at the center, then the party and the country might already have fallen. Two decades of reform and opening up have uncovered a similarly fatal problem: if the ruling party does not build itself well, then it will lose the support of the people; the people will demand that the communist party give up the reins of government.

A person-centered party serving the public interest: the power granted to the communist party and communist party cadres has constitutional limitations and is endowed by the people. Today, excessive power, overreaching authority, special privilege, and rights infringements by party organizations and government agencies are extremely common and extremely serious. They have led to righteous anger in society and among the people. If the ruling party cannot handle its power or keep its power in check, then this party will deteriorate and decay until it collapses.

Permeating the party today are lies, empty words, and hyperbolic statements. There are laws that allow malfeasance and dereliction of duty to be investigated and regulations that prescribe punishment - why are they allowed to run rampant? Provincial governors, ministers, Central Committee members, and Politburo members are not special before the law; they have no special position before the party's regulations and discipline. The hierarchical mentality and the concept of privileges within the party obstructs the progress of national development and the construction of a harmonious society.

Bo Yibo's last words: corruption in the CPC

I have many documents that reveal that more than 300 billion yuan in public funds are squandered every year. One province wasted 40 billion yuan (editor's note: In 2005, Guangdong squandered 42.1 billion yuan); three or four times more than the public expenditure of any country in the EU. This is embezzlement of national assets, theft from the people's pockets. It will to the collapse of the party and the country. It cannot be changed by relying solely on lectures at meetings and warnings in documents.

Disclosing the issue of Chen Liangyu was a correct move. How was he able to create his own private kingdom in Shanghai? Why were more than three hundred letters of complain cast aside? Where were the supervisory agencies? What was the function of the Organization Department, the Discipline and Inspection Commission, and the Politburo? I recommend that the members of the Central Committee Politburo reflect on the Chen Liangyu affair. Failure and party collapse all come out of internal changes.

Bo Yibo's conversations with Bo Xilai, Xi Jinping, and Zhou Xiaochuan

You are the successors to the older generation. You possess an air of superiority. There are many opinions and criticisms of you in society, some of which are pertinent. You must mingle in society and with the people, accept their examination. Don't just live off the capital of your parents' generation.

Bo Yibo's deathbed letter to Hu Jintao and the Central Committee

On 6 January, Bo Yibo dictated a letter to Hu Jintao and the Central Committee containing 1200 characters.

Comrade Jintao and the Central Committee of the CPC: I am soon coming to the end of my life, and there is one thing I regret: I was unable to see the return of Taiwan and the unification of the country. There are two things I wish to say: the country still has more than 30 million people in poverty, and corruption in the party is extremely serious. The communist party has responsibility.

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