Chinese Communists Tone Down Message On National Day

CHINA'S Communist Party began its 43rd year in power yesterday by toning down the alarm over alleged subversion that it sounded after the collapse of the Soviet Communist Party.The comparatively subdued warning about the popular rejection of communism abroad appeared to bolster reports that paramount leader Deng Xiaoping has cautioned against portraying China as the world's last stronghold of Marxism. Mr. Deng seeks to curtail publicly the role of Marxism in China's foreign affairs so as to conciliate other countries and keep Beijing focused on challenges at home, according to Chinese sources. Still, internal documents circulated among officials show that Beijing views foreign affairs - particularly the downfall of communist regimes abroad - through a lens inked by orthodox communism, they say. In speeches and official editorials, Beijing declared that China will never abandon communism and just vaguely referred to Marxism's retreat in other countries. "As socialism develops, there will be times of big steps forward and times of temporary setbacks," Liberation Army Daily said in a front-page editorial Wednesday. "In the end socialism will smash the terrifying waves and reach the shores of victory," the newspaper said, predicting the demise of capitalism. Premier Li Peng, in a toast at a National Day reception Monday, also did not echo the chorus of recent official diatribes about the alleged efforts of "hostile forces at home and abroad" to undermine the Communist regime. Mr. Li's toast omitted warnings about alleged overseas attempts to promote what Communist leaders call the "peaceful evolution" of China toward capitalism and democracy. The official alarm reached an unprecedented pitch last month. Instead, Li extended a hand to other countries, including those in Western Europe and the United States. Beijing hard-liners accuse Washington of conceiving the "peaceful evolution conspiracy." Still, Li expressed optimism that the two countries "can clear the obstacles and overcome the difficulties" in their relationship. The leadership made its most strident National Day statement with actions rather than words. A parade of some 1,300 soldiers marched Sunday in the southern city of Guangzhou in the first such flexing of military muscle in the Pearl River city since 1984. The Guangzhou parade was meant to chasten political forces in nearby Taiwan and Hong Kong that Beijing considers dangerous, say Western diplomats. Beijing hopes to undercut a movement for Taiwan independence that has gathered strength in recent weeks. "We will never tolerate Taiwan independence under any pretext ... and [we] are firmly opposed to any activities aimed at splitting the motherland," Li told the anniversary assembly of leaders, officials, and foreign diplomats. With the display of military might, China also wants to admonish supporters of pro-democracy candidates who ran away with Hong Kong's first direct legislative elections last month, they say. With the parade, China's leadership aimed to forestall any inkling of regionalism in the robust, free-wheeling, and comparatively free-thinking southern province of Guangdong. Guangdong officials are said to have resisted efforts by Beijing in the past two years to tighten central economic and political controls. Meanwhile, Chinese in Beijing strolled past 160,000 potted flowers arranged in more than two dozen displays in Tiananmen Square, the scene of the Army assault on pro-democracy demonstrators in June 1989. In its anniversary editorial, Liberation Army Daily said, "The People's Army will always be the loyal defender of the socialist motherland."

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