Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition News and Article Release Issue: A14-W2
中国民主运动海外联席会议新闻与文章发布号:A14-W2

Release Date: April 29, 2003
发布日:2003429

Topic: International Herald Tribune Article Written by Wei Jingsheng about SARS
标题:《国际先驱论坛报》发表魏京生有关严重急性呼吸系统综合症的文章

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From International Herald Tribune
www.IHT.com

SARS Tests Communist Rule in China

By Wei Jingsheng
Monday, April 28, 2003

WASHINGTON: Because of early official denials and cover-ups over the spread of SARS - severe acute respiratory syndrome - some analysts have christened this crisis "
China's Chernobyl." The initial secrecy of the former Soviet regime after the Chernobyl nuclear accident, which completely ignored the interests of public health, is considered by historians to be one of the final blunders of a closed totalitarian system that ultimately led to its demise. In the wake of that disaster, Mikhail Gorbachev was compelled to use the policy of "glasnost" or openness as a means to recover legitimacy for Communist Party rule. But, as Gorbachev discovered, opening a closed system necessarily spells its demise.

Will the same be true for China?

The fast-spreading SARS virus and the mounting death toll of victims have caused worldwide attention and anxiety. Neglected by outside observers, however, have been frantic rumors within China that have aroused public imagination. These include the notion that SARS emanated from China's biological weapons research facilities. Indeed, many Chinese believe the Chinese Communist Party secretly backed Osama bin Laden as a way to menace the United States. Some suggest China and Russia were more likely to provide him with these means of terror than Iraq.

True or not, these rumors reveal the fragile legitimacy of regimes, such as China or the old Soviet Union, that are based upon totalitarian control of information: When governments cannot be trusted to tell the truth, people will believe anything. Then, when such a regime admits its lies, it does so at its own peril.

To dampen rumors about biological weapons leakage and to demonstrate that the government was implementing measures to combat SARS, China's new paramount leader, Hu Jintao, recently conducted a highly publicized inspection tour, including one of the
Chinese Military Medical Academy, a bio-military research facility.

No doubt if SARS continues to worsen to epidemic proportions in China, Hu's belated glasnost will undermine his credibility, not enhance it. Everyone is already asking: "Why didn't he act sooner? How can we live in a system that values control of information above public health?"

During the Gorbachev era in the
Soviet Union, the internal fighting was intense at the leadership level. Each faction used the others' failures as an offensive weapon, causing an even further erosion of confidence in the leadership. The same thing is happening in today's China. Hiding information about something as dangerous as SARS could only have been sanctioned at the highest levels - the Politburo and Secretariat. No mere minister of health or Beijing mayor would have the courage or power to hide this kind of information. Their recent dismissal was the usual story: Lower officials are scapegoats for high-level irresponsibility.

What is unusual this time is that the scapegoats are from different factions. One is from Hu Jintao's side; the other is allied with Jiang Zemin, Hu's predecessor and continuing competitor. Were they having fierce internal fights and unable to collaborate with each other, causing paralysis as SARS spread rapidly around the country? Or, having suddenly realized the stakes, have they decided on a truce where each side loses one scapegoat in order to save their common skin - the Communist Party?

We don't know. We only know this: Most Chinese believe that the Communist regime is guilty of concealing information about an infectious disease that threatens the entire country. The Communist government had to admit this fact, and the implications must be clear.

Finally, there is a big difference between the SARS disaster and Chernobyl. During the Chernobyl crisis, Western countries heavily criticized the
Soviet Union. That pressure was, in large part, what made Chernobyl a turning point that led to Soviet collapse.

By contrast, Western leaders today need Beijing's support in their own internal dispute over Iraq and in dealing with North Korea. More than a shame, it would be an historic mistake to pass up this opportunity to make China's leaders accountable to their own people and to the world at large. The virus next time is sure to be more virulent.

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SARS 使人们想到切尔诺贝利》    -- 魏京生
   
前苏联的切尔诺贝利核电站事故,震动了全世界,并在苏联人内心造成了持续的恐慌和严重的对当局的不信任。普遍认为,这是导致后来苏联共产主义制度崩溃的许多原因之一。

最近有关SARS 病迅速传播导致越来越多中国人和外国人死亡的报导,特别是有关从中国生物武器研究机关传播出SARS病毒的猜测,引起了广泛的注意。有两则重要的新闻没有引起观察家的重视,但已引起许多中国人的联想。一则是去年十二月在香港广泛散发的本.拉登的传单预言2003年会在香港开始一场大灾难。许多中国人都相信中国共产党是本.拉登的后台老板,恐怖份子们使用的生物武器的最终来源可是是俄罗斯和中国。萨达姆.侯赛因没有能力研究生物武器。而中国政府广泛支持和援助各种类型的恐怖组织,这在中国不是秘密。
   
另一则新闻是最近几天中国新的最高领导人胡锦涛,为了SARS病而进行的一系列宣传活动,其中包括视察了中国生物战研究机关-中国军事医学科学院。胡的一系列公开活动是为了让中国公众相信政府采取各种措施防治SARS病。这些措施和生物战研究机构有关,这是在向中国人暗示某种信息。换个说法,因为许多中国人相信生物武器泄漏的传闻,胡才有必要作这个姿态,以表明这个机关工作正常,大家不必担心。
  
戈尔巴乔夫时代,苏共党内的争权斗争激烈。各方都利用重大责任事故打击政治对手,导致人民不信任感迅速增长。现在中国正发生着相似的情况。隐瞒如此严重的传染病蔓延的消息,按中共的制度,需要政治局和书记处作出决定。这不是卫生部长和北京市长的职权范围。他们胆子再大,也无法掩盖在全国发生的消息。中共的供领导人使用的内部信息系统比美国还要发达。但最终仍然会用下级官员做替罪羊。
 
这次不同的是替罪羊不是一只而是两只。一个是江泽民的党羽;一个是胡锦涛的党羽。是这两个党羽因内斗剧烈不能合作导致SARS病迅速传播;还是因为两个派系互推责任或为平均分配责任而各损失一个棋子?目前还难以判断。我们知道两个事实。
1    大多数中国人相信中共政权是隐瞒疫情的责任者,中共被迫不得不承认这个事实。
2    不负责任的政权研制和储存大规模杀伤武器的危险不仅仅在它会使用。在不使用的情况下,也可能对人类的生存构成毁灭性的灾难。
 
SARS病和切尔诺贝利核事故有一个最大的不同。当时西方民主国家团结一致谴责苏联,切尔诺贝利核事故成为东、西方集团与论战的重要转折点。最终导致苏联垮台,俄罗斯建立起民主政权。现在是美国和欧洲为首的大多数西方国家为了伊拉克战争而吵架,纷纷前往北京争取支援。这个历史机会,可能又一次从我们肩膀旁边溜过去了。等到另一种合成病菌杀死更多人而且不能制止时,人民才会重新思考这个问题。

2003
421

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