Sentencing the 'gang of four' -- and inching toward the rule of law?

The sentencing of Mao Tse-tung's widow, Jiang qing, and her codefendants concludes a court process that can be cautiously welcomed as a step toward establishing the rule of law in China. Through building on the positive elements in the case, China's communist rulers can combat the divisiveness and cynicism that some see rising from the episode. Furthering the rule of law can enhance China's internal stability as it confronts not only new economic challenges but a forthcoming public reassessment of Mao, who was once, like Stalin, beyond criticism.

The sentence themselves constituted an advance in the sense that they were applied to "crimes" rather than "attitudes," though the "counterrevolutionary" label on some of the crimes is still vague enough to allow abuses. The death sentence for treason on central figure Jiang Qing was suspended for two years, reportedly meaning a future of solitary confinement and hard labor. Thus the court kept her from martyrdom while leaving no doubt of its grave view of her offenses during the brutal decade of the Cultural Revolution.

As for the long trial, with all its shortcomings in terms of Western justice, consider the alternatives: Jiang Qing's "gang of four" and their associates could have been summarily executed, forced to languish in prison indefinitely without prosecution, or been part of a meaningless mass purge trial. The trial that did take place was better.

Recommended: Who are China's next leaders?

To be sure, it came as a curious refocusing on ideological matters when the domestic and foreign public had been concentrating on China's economic outreach for two years. Not since the communist revolution three decades ago have Chinese politics been dependent on economics as they are now. With the raised expectations of the Chinese people, and the commitments to economic advance by their leaders, the test for politics is becoming not ideology but effectiveness.

Then, too, in China, whenever leading figures are brought down, there is a divisive effect involving hundreds or thousands associated with them all down the line. Add the members of the younger generation who have no patience with ideological talk.

The result is that some see the trial, with its television and other media coverage, turning out to be potentially counterproductive. In other words, the political nature of it might undermine the beginnings of the rule of law. Some might take Jiang Qing's declarations of innocence and denunciations of the judges as more credible than the legal system finding her guilty. Also, her invocations of Mao in her defense could complicate the forthcoming official review of Mao's record by raising questions other than those the present government is already believed to be preparing.

But such negative possibilities could be countered by government and party officials hewing to the rule of law they promise and the people yearn for. It should be remembered that the decline of Chairman Hua Guofeng's power is due not only to his having been Mao's man now that Mao's own image is fading; it is also due to reaction against Hua's originally getting his post through disregard of law.

Wrongdoing by officials in the past was customarily dealt with extralegally, and they were tempted to consider themselves beyond the law. The trial underscored a warning to all officials that in the future they are to be held accountable for their conduct.

As many people considerably west of China know, a legal framework is no guarantee of accountability without individuals of integrity. But the framework is essential to the democracy pledged to the Chinese somewhere down the road.

Share this story:

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

eZ debug

Clear cache:

Quick settings:

Timing: Jul 09 2014 06:05:08
Script start
Timing: Jul 09 2014 06:05:08
Module start 'content'
Warning: eZDebug::accumulatorStop Jul 09 2014 06:05:08
Accumulator 'Search' does not exist, run eZDebug::accumulatorStart first
Warning: eZDebug::accumulatorStop Jul 09 2014 06:05:08
Accumulator 'Search' does not exist, run eZDebug::accumulatorStart first
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 06:05:08
Undefined index: path in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezwebin/autoloads/ezpagedata.php on line 158
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 06:05:08
Undefined index: path in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezwebin/autoloads/ezpagedata.php on line 175
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 06:05:08
Undefined index: path in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezwebin/autoloads/ezpagedata.php on line 158
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 06:05:08
Undefined index: path in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezwebin/autoloads/ezpagedata.php on line 175
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 06:05:08
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezfind/classes/ezfindresultnode.php on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 06:05:08
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezfind/classes/ezfindresultnode.php on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 06:05:08
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezfind/classes/ezfindresultnode.php on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 06:05:08
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezfind/classes/ezfindresultnode.php on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 06:05:08
Undefined index: meta_remote_id_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/csm_base/classes/CSMFunctionCollection.php on line 1028
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 06:05:08
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezfind/classes/ezfindresultnode.php on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 06:05:08
Undefined index: meta_remote_id_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/csm_base/classes/CSMFunctionCollection.php on line 1028
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 06:05:08
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezfind/classes/ezfindresultnode.php on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 06:05:08
Undefined index: meta_remote_id_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/csm_base/classes/CSMFunctionCollection.php on line 1028
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 06:05:08
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezfind/classes/ezfindresultnode.php on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 06:05:08
Undefined index: meta_remote_id_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/csm_base/classes/CSMFunctionCollection.php on line 1028
Timing: Jul 09 2014 06:05:08
Module end 'content'
Timing: Jul 09 2014 06:05:08
Before parse_includes
Strict: PHP: E_STRICT Jul 09 2014 06:05:08
Non-static method MugoViewExtras::get_view_extras() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/mugo_view_extras/autoloads/template_operators.php on line 37
Warning: eZTemplate:def @ extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/extra/archive.tpl:21[1] Jul 09 2014 06:05:08
Variable 'view_extra_node' is already defined.
Timing: Jul 09 2014 06:05:08
After parse_includes
Timing: Jul 09 2014 06:05:08
End

Timing points:

CheckpointElapsedRel. ElapsedMemoryRel. Memory
Script start 0.0000 sec0.0177 sec 1,285.4063 KB1,162.0938 KB
Module start 'content' 0.0177 sec0.6916 sec 2,447.5000 KB10,546.1641 KB
Module end 'content' 0.7093 sec0.0104 sec 12,993.6641 KB377.6875 KB
Before parse_includes 0.7197 sec0.0454 sec 13,371.3516 KB287.0234 KB
After parse_includes 0.7651 sec0.0009 sec 13,658.3750 KB-172.0469 KB
End 0.7660 sec  13,486.3281 KB 
Total runtime:0.7740 sec
Peak memory usage:15,740.0313 KB

Time accumulators:

 Accumulator Elapsed Percent Count Average
ini_load
Load cache0.0080 sec1.0280%360.0002 sec
Mysql Total
Mysqli_queries0.0856 sec11.0094%1300.0007 sec
Looping result0.0070 sec0.9053%1240.0001 sec
Template Total0.7270 sec 93.5% 7 0.1039 sec
Template load0.0078 sec1.0025%70.0011 sec
Template processing0.7190 sec92.4935%70.1027 sec
Template load and register function0.0002 sec0.0297%40.0001 sec
states
state_id_array0.0040 sec0.5143%80.0005 sec
state_identifier_array0.0059 sec0.7647%110.0005 sec
override
Cache load0.0063 sec0.8075%290.0002 sec
eZ Find
MoreLikeThis0.0000 sec0.0000%00.0000 sec
Query build0.0059 sec0.7551%10.0059 sec
Engine time0.0167 sec2.1528%10.0167 sec
Search0.2287 sec29.4188%20.1143 sec
Class attribute list0.0794 sec10.2103%10.0794 sec
Sytem overhead
Fetch class attribute name0.0011 sec0.1444%40.0003 sec
Fetch class attribute can translate value0.0000 sec0.0035%10.0000 sec
class_abstraction
Instantiating content class attribute0.0000 sec0.0040%40.0000 sec
XML
Image XML parsing0.0025 sec0.3194%10.0025 sec
General
String conversion0.0000 sec0.0027%30.0000 sec
dbfile0.0012 sec0.1530%350.0000 sec
View Extra building0.0088 sec1.1315%40.0022 sec
Total script time:0.7774 sec

CSS/JS files loaded with "ezjscPacker" during request:

CacheTypePacklevelSourceFiles
01a980f93dc967c6e39d52a11ae2108b_1404899611_all.cssCSS3extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/stylesheets/normalize.css
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/stylesheets/html5b.css
design/standard/stylesheets/debug.css
extension/ezwt/design/standard/stylesheets/websitetoolbar.css
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/stylesheets/jquery-ui-1.10.3.custom.min.css
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/stylesheets/desktop.css
ede0a88fd146f1a095d27fb22227d0e5_1398846822.jsJS2extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/modernizr.js
extension/csm_base/design/standard/javascript/jquery-1.10.2.min.js
1650da1ba852ac5f9af81af07e8fa105_1404899611.jsJS2extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/jquery-ui-1.10.4.min.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/json2.js
extension/csm_base/design/standard/javascript/jquery.cookie.min.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/jquery.mobile.custom.min.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.arthole.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.sticky.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.csmstory.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.right_column.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.csmstory_editorspickdialog.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.sailthru_signup.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.jcarousel.min.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.history.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.mainNav.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.gallery.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.staffdialog.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/jQuery.rollChildren.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/pubService_extended.js
extension/csm_base/design/standard/javascript/csm/csmNew.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/jquery.quiz.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/jquery.spectrumQuiz.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/global.js

Templates used to render the page:

UsageRequested templateTemplateTemplate loadedEditOverride
1node/view/full.tplfull/article.tplextension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/full/article.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezimage.tpl<No override>extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/templates/content/datatype/view/ezimage.tplEdit templateOverride template
2content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/paragraph.tpl<No override>extension/ezwebin/design/ezwebin/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/paragraph.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezstring.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/ezstring.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezxmltext.tplcontent/datatype/view/story_info_box.tplextension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/content/datatype/view/story_info_box.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezmatrix.tplcontent/datatype/view/ezmatrix_article_related_external_links.tplextension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/content/datatype/view/ezmatrix_article_related_external_links.tplEdit templateOverride template
1pagelayout.tpl<No override>extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/templates/pagelayout.tplEdit templateOverride template
1modules/mugo_view_extras/extra_cached.tpl<No override>extension/mugo_view_extras/design/standard/templates/modules/mugo_view_extras/extra_cached.tplEdit templateOverride template
1setup/debug_toolbar.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/setup/debug_toolbar.tplEdit templateOverride template
 Number of times templates used: 10
 Number of unique templates used: 9
 Time used to render template usage: 0.0003 secs