Oct 15, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI and Chinese Premier Hu Jintao

I listened on TV to President Hu Jintao's long opening address at the 17th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party on October 15, 2007, [full address] and observe some similarities between the situations of Pope Benedict XVI and Chinese Premier and President Hu Jintao. Is there is a real sea change in progress for Chinese society and their government? I hope so, even though I also am reminded that past Soviet leaders and Cuba's Fidel Castro at times made somewhat similar statements that looked good on the surface, but which roots originated in the false view of our relationship to God.

The similarities that I see between Benedict XVI and Hu Jintao mostly revolve around their dealing with the aftereffects of serious mismanagement of their Church and country. Hu said Mao's theory of class struggle was an erroneous theory, and that Marxism must be adapted to the culture of China. [These comments, by themselves, represent a real break with Chinese communism over the past 60 years!] In contrast, Benedict XVI is dealing with the error of Modernism. However, both men are aware they could lose command by going too fast in overcoming past errors. Another similarity is that both rely, more than recent past leadership, on the strong historical foundations of their organizations--China's history for Hu, and the Church's tradition by Benedict XVI.

Both leaders have shown in the past they are capable of dealing effectively with rebellious elements to maintain the security of their respective organizations. Both clearly point out problems caused by recent leaders, yet still acknowledge and even praise those former leaders--probably so as not to lose the historical credibility upon which their own authority stands.

Here are some of Jintao's words that caught my attention:
  • Continue and expand China's opening-up program
  • "Socialism with Chinese characteristics..." [Seeming to imply that the prior understanding of socialism was not reflective of China. Yet, take this with a grain of salt because he continued to reference Marxism and Leninism.]
  • "expand people's democracy and ensure that the people are the masters of the country" [the word 'democracy' was used 60 times during the speech, often with illustrations.]
  • insure the "rule of law" [used quite a few times, including "In principle, public hearings must be held for the formulation of laws, regulations and policies that bear closely on the interests of the public." Also apparently refers to governmental checks and balances.]
  • "... improve institutions of democracy, diversify its forms and expand its channels to guarantee people's rights to information and participation." [Does this refer to internet access?]
  • "Power must be exercised in the sunshine to ensure that it is exercised correctly." [That would be a definite change, but can it happen in a communist government?]
  • "As an important part of China's overall reform, political restructuring must be constantly deepened along with economic and social development to adapt to the growing enthusiasm of the people for participation in political affairs." [This also may refer to an improved governmental system of checks and balances.]
Surprisingly, Premier Hu Jintao promised to appoint more non-communists to high level positions within the Chinese government. Perhaps more importantly, he also stated "Promoting harmony in relations between political parties, between ethnic groups, between religions [???], between social strata, and between our compatriots at home and overseas plays an irreplaceable role in enhancing unity and pooling strengths." The phrase "harmonious development" appears consistently in Hu's speeches, so much so that Chinese Catholics now insist that Christianity contributes a good basis for "harmonious development" of their nation. Perhaps they understand that their new "Roman emperor" could be more favorable to Christianity than past leaders, and that a new Trajan's rescript could mark the end of old system of uncompromising hostility to the Church.

SCIENTIFIC MATERIALISM still seems to be the greatest error as China's market economy expands under a revised Marxist socialism. Premier Hu Jintao promised a lot of bread to the Chinese people on October 15, 2007 in his 5-year report to the Communist Party of China. Bread to the people, as Nero promised to the Romans!

As background, Hu always emphasizes his list of "Eight Honors and Disgraces."
Love the country, do it no harm;
Serve the people, never betray them;
Follow science [the Word of GOD!], discard superstition;
Be diligent, not indolent;
Be united, help each other, make no gains at other's expense;
Be honest and trustworthy, do not sacrifice ethics for profit;
Be disciplined and law-abiding, not chaotic and lawless;
Live plainly, work hard, do not wallow in luxuries and pleasures.
As can be seen above, only one word needs to be changed to make it a reasonable list of natural virtues. Perhaps Hu can someday redefine science as the "Word of God" just has he seems to have redefined Marxist socialism.

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