2031 GMT, 991116 – Chinese Demonstrators Raise Mao

Demonstrations in the Chinese city of Chongqing flared up again over the 
weekend, mirroring protests held a month earlier. According to the 
Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China, 2,000 
demonstrators took to the streets demanding that the local government take 
responsibility for losses in illegal investment schemes. The demonstrations 
took on a new feel Nov. 15 as protestors waved pictures of Mao Zedong and 
chanted "Down with corruption."

The resurgence of the demonstrations against the local government – coupled 
with the change in tactics – suggests that this is not a spontaneous 
demonstration of public dissatisfaction as the October demonstrations likely 
were. Instead, the symbolism employed now is likely a message to the central 
government by interests opposed to China’s economic reforms and its opening 
to the West. The symbolic use of Mao imagery could very well appear in 
economic protests in other cities.

Ironically, the protest in Chongqing occurred on the same day Chinese and 
United States officials agreed to a bilateral deal which would further open 
Chinese markets while paving the way for Chinese entry into the World Trade 
Organization. The deal, while long in the works, brings China to a decision 
point. If it fully embraces the economic and structural aspects of the 
agreement, a political shift will necessarily follow. China cannot fully 
open its markets and adopt a Western economic model, while maintaining 
centralized control.

It is this problem that underlies the ongoing struggle within China’s 
government. While President Jiang Zemin, resplendent in his Mao suit at the 
Oct. 1 celebration of China’s fiftieth anniversary, firmly established 
himself as the core of the third generation leadership, the question remains 
as to who will replace China’s aging leaders. However, the moderates and 
economic reformers, typified by Premier Zhu Rongji, a key author of China’s 
economic reforms, are fighting the hard-liners for leadership of the fourth 

The image of the people rising up to embrace Mao and to clean out corrupt 
government officials becomes a potential rallying point for those opposed to 
the economic reformers and those deemed too pro-West. The Chongqing protest 
may be just the first of many such indigenous cries from the masses for a 
return to the days of Mao, when greed and graft were purged from the 
government and Western ideas were not allowed to infect the Chinese 

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