China: The Most ‘Radical’ Political Prisoner Dies in Jail

( December 1, 2016,  New York City, Sri Lanka Guardian) Peng Ming (彭明), one of a handful of Chinese political prisoners serving a life sentence, died in Xianning prison, Hubei Province, on November 29, according to his relatives in China. The head of the prison told Peng’s brother in Wuhan, the provincial capital, that Peng Ming suddenly fell down while watching TV, and died in hospital after being rushed in for emergency treatment. No autopsy or forensic report has yet been performed.

But China Change learned today from a close family friend that Peng Ming’s sister believes he was murdered; a public statement from the family is forthcoming.

To many who have been tracking human rights in China over the years, the name of the 62-year-old political prisoner may not be a familiar, or have become obscure with the passage of time. But the news of his death is reverberating in the dissident community inside and outside China. Indeed, many expressed doubt over the official version of events, particularly given the fact that Peng’s older brother visited him as recently as November 24, Thanksgiving Day, and reported that he appeared to be in good health. Peng had also recently written encouraging letters to his children in the United States; his daughter Lisa Peng (彭佳音) is a junior at Harvard University majoring in political science.

“THE FOURTH LANDMARK,” STILL AVAILABLE ONLINE.
“THE FOURTH LANDMARK,” STILL AVAILABLE ONLINE.

The brother, according to friends, has since been placed under house arrest to prevent him from speaking about Peng’s death.

Unlike most dissidents, Peng Ming first enjoyed a successful career until his run-in with the authorities. His achievements, impressive for his age, were mostly forged in the 1990s, a time of opportunity and imagination in China. He was editor-in-chief of “Friends of Entrepreneurs” magazine, CEO of a company under the Ministry of Aerospace Industry known as the Aerospace General Electric Group (航太航空通用电气集团), chairman of Beijing Urban Construction Group (北京城建集团), and director of China Institute for Development and Economic Strategy (中国发展经济战略研究所). The series of appointments represents the paragon of a successful businessman plugged directly into the official system.

In June, 1998, Peng Ming founded “China Development Union” (中国发展联合会) with Chinese dissidents to promote a path to development through environmentalism and constitutionalism. The organization boasted over 10,000 members and made a splash at the time. According to a TED talk by Lisa Peng in 2014, it was “a think-tank established to address the censored topics of human rights, free speech and democracy.” Merely a few months later, in October 1998, the Chinese government declared the organization illegal and sentenced Peng Ming to 18 months in a labor camp.Peng was also the author “The Fourth Landmark” (《第四座丰碑》), sponsored by the Ford Foundation and published in Taiwan in 1999. It argues that, succeeding Sun Yat-sen’s “Three People’s Principles” revolution, Mao Zedong’s communist revolution, and Deng Xiaoping’s reform and open-up, China needs a fourth revolution for the 21stcentury.

Upon his release, Peng was surveilled and threatened with more jail time. The family decided to flee China by escaping to Vietnam, then Thailand. They eventually arrived in the United States in August 2001 as UN refugees.

Based in the Bay Area in California, Peng Ming continued his activism. In early 2003, he established the “China Federal Interim Committee” (中国联邦临时委员会) and an “interim government.” Its mission was to unite anti-communist forces overseas, end one-party rule in China in three to five years using any means, and then establish a Chinese federation. This is what he called “The Democracy Project”(民主工程).

According to Peng Ming’s own defense, he entered Myanmar from Thailand on May 22, 2004, with a travel document issued by the U.S. government to asylees. Once there he was kidnapped by Chinese agents and soldiers of the Burmese communist People’s Army. On May 28, he was taken back to China and on July 23 formally arrested under orders of the Wuhan People’s Procuratorate. On February 23, 2005, he was indicted.

Lisa Peng during a Congressional hearing in 2013.
Lisa Peng during a Congressional hearing in 2013.

It was widely believed that Peng Ming’s plan was to establish an armed resistance base in the border area of Myanmar and China.

On October 12, 2005, the Wuhan Second Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Peng to life imprisonment, and a lifetime deprivation of political rights, for “the crime of organizing and leading a terrorist organization.” The indictment states that beginning in 2001 Peng published articles online, as well as wrote the book “The Democracy Project,” which called for the violent overthrow of the Chinese regime. The court also declared that Peng was guilty of kidnapping and the possession of counterfeit currency (the evidence on which these charges are based is unclear).

Peng Ming’s story is redolent of that of another overseas Chinese dissident, Wang Bingzhang (王炳章), who was kidnapped from Vietnam in 2002 and is currently serving a life sentence in Shaoguan Prison, Guangdong. Years of campaigning by relatives and human rights organizations have failed to secure his release.

Sources:

http://www.rfa.org/cantonese/news/china_dissident-20051014.html
http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/pengmin-20051018.html
http://www.rfa.org/cantonese/news/china_dissident-20051014.html
http://www.rfa.org/cantonese/news/138898-20040618.html


China Change offers below a translation of the table of contents of Peng’s book “The Democracy Project” (《民主工程》) in order to provide readers with a deeper understanding of the man and his uncanny insights, which ring even truer today than when they were written 15 years ago. The book is meant to be a practical handbook, providing specific advice for the set of institutions that would replace the Chinese Communist Party, as well as the means of a prospective opposition movement to do so. Readers are advised that the presentation of Peng’s ideas does not represent an endorsement of them by China Change. — The Editors


The Democracy Project

By Peng Ming

One of the Greatest Global Projects of Social Change in the Early Years of the 21st Century

pengming_coverEstablishing a Provisional Federal Government

Replacing the Chinese Communist Dictatorship

Publisher: China Federal Government Development Committee Publishing House

Table of Contents

 Chapter One: The Chinese Communist Dictatorship Must be Ended as Soon as Possible

Part One: The need to improve human rights in China

  1. The CCP will continue depriving citizens of political rights, crush to the greatest extent possible the space for activism, and eliminate dissident forces in their nascent stages
  2. Ethnic minority protests in Tibet, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia will be pitilessly and comprehensively crushed
  3. The broad population of middle- and low-income earners will have their basic livelihoods increasingly threatened

Part Two: The need to prevent a large-scale economic and social crisis

  1. China’s economic bloat
  2. A bloated economy is beneficial to the consolidation of regime power
  3. China’s economic maladies
  4. An economic crisis is unavoidable
  5. The international impact of an economic crisis

Part Three: The need to avoid the outbreak of war across the Taiwan Strait

  1. The flames of nationalistic sentiment fanned by the Communist Party among the public, intellectual elite, and military will force the CCP into military confrontation with Taiwan
  2. Provoking a war to divert attention from domestic crises
  3. Jiang Zemin, whether for self-aggrandizement, a show of achievement, or to extend his power, may set off a war with Taiwan
  4. Taiwan’s own conflicted attitudes and behavior may lead to the CCP using military force
  5. The ambiguity of U.S. policy may lead the CCP to take desperate risks

Part Four: The need for long-term security and stability in the Asia-Pacific

  1. A conflict in the South China Sea is unavoidable
  2. Provocations in the Senkaku Islands have already begun
  3. Territorial disputes with India will arise once again
  4. The CCP will proliferate nuclear weapon and guided missile technology to Pakistan, weakening India’s military position and imperiling security in South Asia
  5. The CCP will secretly hinder the unification of North and South Korea, and encourage the North to be militaristic and belligerent

Chapter Two: The Failure of ‘Peaceful Evolution’ and the Uncertainty Ahead

Part One: The West’s strategy of peaceful evolution worked in the Soviet bloc of Eastern Europe, but has failed in China

  1. Differences in people
  2. Differences in culture
  3. Differences in national character
  4. Differences in level of development
  5. Differences in how much effort the West has put into peaceful evolution
  6. Differences in counter-measures

Part Two: The failure of U.S. administrations to change China’s regime through engagement

  1. The result of implementing a policy of regime change through engagement
  2. Why regime change through engagement failed
  3. The consequences of continuing the policy
  4. The choice for America’s China policy in the future: “a high-pressure push for change”

Part Three: A repeat of Taiwan’s peaceful transition can’t take place in China

  1. Differences in basic ideology
  2. Differences in international circumstances
  3. Differences in internal repression
  4. Differences in historical baggage
  5. Differences in levels of development
  6. Differences in blood debts against the people
  7. Differences in vested interest groups

Part Four: Without external pressure, the process of CCP self-reform will be an extremely drawn-out process

  1. Under certain conditions, dictatorships can survive long term
  2. Regimes without popular support can also survive long term
  3. The CCP is an organism with the ability to learn, adapt, self-correct, and extricate itself from crises
  4. The Party has a strict set of regressive mechanisms that weed out high-capability individuals and great leaders from gaining entry to elite politics

Chapter Three: The ‘Gray Path’ to Realizing Democracy in China

Part One: The first path: red

  1. The basic ideology: ‘red’ [revolutionary] culture
  2. Political appeals
  3. The means of operation
  4. Leader type
  5. Those relied upon
  6. International support
  7. Analyzing the evidence
  8. Basic judgments

Part Two: The second path: blue

  1. The basic ideology: blue [democratic] culture
  2. Political appeals
  3. The means of operation
  4. Leader type
  5. Those relied upon
  6. International support
  7. Analyzing the evidence
  8. Basic judgments

Part Three: The third path: green

  1. The basic ideology: green [ecological] culture
  2. Political appeals
  3. The means of operation
  4. Leader type
  5. Those relied upon
  6. International support
  7. Analyzing the evidence
  8. Basic judgements

Part Four: The gray path and the way out

  1. The gray path = red methods + a blue leader + green ideology

Chapter Four: The Design of the Democratic Project and the Establishment of a Provisional Government

Part One: Establishing a provisional government is a precondition and guarantee for realization of the democratic project

  1. Establishing a provisional government is necessary for mobilizing the public
    1. If you want the public involved, they must first recognize and believe in you
    2. If you want the public involved, it needs to benefit them in some way
    3. If you want the public involved, you’ve got to give them a deep and unshakeable hope for the future
    4. If you want the public involved, their risks need to be lowered to the minimum
  2. Establishing a provisional government is essential for integrating all the anti-CCP forces
  3. Establishing a provisional government is necessary for securing international support
  4. Establishing a provisional government is needed to give the CCP a shock
  5. Establishing a provisional government is needed to invigorate the overseas democracy movement.

Part Two: The structure of the provisional government

  1. A Chinese Federation
  2. The Federation of China
    1. Composition and distinctions
    2. Jurisdiction and relationships
  3. The federal government
    1. The presidency
    2. The Cabinet
    3. The legislature
    4. The courts
    5. The military
  4. The federal Cabinet
    1. Operational norms
    2. Permanent structures and functions

Part Three: Getting the democracy project started

  1. Preparing to establish the provisional government
  2. Starting operations: Grasp the central theme, lay a sound foundation, prepare for a comprehensive campaign
    1. Raise a war chest
    2. Set up a headquarters and regional bases
    3. Recruit and train personnel
    4. Set up lines of communication and an intelligence network
    5. Establish an underground governing network
    6. Prepare the ability to strike
  3. Map out the plan for a general offensive
    1. Find and take aim at targets
    2. Designate four primary battle tactics
    3. Deploy measures for toppling the system

Chapter Five: Roll Out the Democracy Project, Gain Power in Three Years

Part One: Launch a surprise attack, shaking the foundations of CCP rule

  1. Use all four battle tactics — publish Nos. 1-4 of the “Announcement to All Chinese People”
  2. Use the momentum to retake the country, comprehensively wresting power by the CCP
    1. Publish “Announcement to All Chinese People” No. 5
    2. The CCP’s collapse
    3. A round-table conference and the unification of the interim government
  3. Restore order and prepare for political reform

Part Two: Carry out the plan for political reform

  1. Promulgate the Constitution, formally establishing the federation
  2. Establish the legislature and hold a legislative election
  3. Directly-elect the president and form a Cabinet
  4. Select members for the Supreme Court
  5. Establish governments in every province
  6. The new Cabinet puts forward the “project to revitalize the federation,” at which point the democracy project is basically complete, and the project for rebuilding the country has begun

Part Three: Implement the project to revitalize the federation — four major programs

  1. Adjust security and defense needs
  2. Establish a comprehensive social security system and plan for regulating the population
    1. Three basic subsistence guarantees for unemployment, retirement, and healthcare
    2. Nine years of free elementary education
    3. Population regulations: control the quantity, optimize the quality
  3. A plan to invigorate the economy and regain territorial integrity
    1. Emergency reform measures: currency, finance and taxation, foreign trade, and state-owned enterprises
    2. Medium to long-range plans: One measure, two projects, three main goals
  4. A plan to re-establish faith and virtue
    1. Restore [freedom of] belief
    2. Awaken the conscience of the people
    3. Rebuild morality — draw up a “China’s Classics of Virtue”
    4. Strengthen the role of grassroots autonomy and family and clan ties

(For photos of the Table of Content in original Chinese, check out here.)  

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