纽约时报4月27日发 表该报专栏撰稿人纪思道的文章，题目是“（中国）大退步。”文章说，“中国正在实行20年来对独立思想的最严酷的镇压。因此，我想，这次到中国来，可以写 一篇关于程建萍这位女士的文章。她因为使用推特而被监禁。程女士去年在她要结婚的那天被逮捕，因为她通过推特发了一条讽刺性的短信，其中包括‘愤青们，冲 啊’这几个字。中国政府没有任何幽默感，给她判劳教1年。”
纪 思道的文章说，“中国采取严厉镇压的另一个理由看来是围绕明年权力交接的骚动。在我看来，胡锦涛主席是1970年代后期华国锋以来最缺乏远见的中共领袖。 他要下台，由现在的副主席习近平取代。有关官员说，中国的计划是让李克强担任总理，让（或许他们三人当中最有能力的）王岐山担任副总理。”
纪 思道的文章说，“但是，现在权力角逐还在进行，部分原因是胡锦涛主席地位虚弱。中国官员在批评胡锦涛的时候很是公开。批评者据说包括中国军队将领，以及前 主席江泽民。他们的批评跟镇压异议人士没有多少关系，……而是跟胡锦涛冻结甚至倒退经济和政治改革、坐视通货膨胀抬头、损害跟美国的关系有关。”
纪 思道的文章说，“尽管如此，眼下的镇压依然是一种大倒退，而且在两个方面尤其恶劣。首先是政府不仅逮捕异议人士、基督徒，而且也逮捕他们的家人，甚至他们 的律师。第二，长时间以来，中国警方对劳动阶级的在押者使用酷刑，但通常不对知识分子动刑。现在当局对白领异议人士也动刑了。”
Great Leap Backward
Published: April 27, 2011
Damon Winter/The New York Times
Since China is in the middle of its harshest crackdown on independent thought in two decades, I thought that on this visit I might write about a woman named Cheng Jianping who is imprisoned for tweeting.
Ms. Cheng was arrested on what was supposed to have been her wedding day last fall for sending a single sarcastic Twitter message that included the words “charge, angry youth.” The government, lacking a sense of humor, sentenced her to a year in labor camp.
So I tried to interview her fiancé, Hua Chunhui, but it turns out that Mr. Hua was recently arrested and imprisoned as well. That’s the way it goes in China these days. The government’s crackdown is rippling through the country, undercutting China’s prodigious growth and representing the harshest clampdown since the crushing of the Tiananmen democracy movement in 1989.
The reason? Surprising as it may seem, the government is worried that China could become the next Egypt or Tunisia, unless security forces act early and ruthlessly.
“Of course, they’re scared that the same thing might happen here,” one Chinese friend with family and professional ties to top leaders told me. A family member of another Chinese leader put it this way: “They’re just terrified. That’s why they’re cracking down.”
Yet another official says that the Politburo internalized a basic lesson from the Tiananmen movement: It’s crucial to suppress protests early, before they gain traction. He says that from China’s point of view, the mistake that autocrats in Egypt and Tunisia made was not cracking down earlier and harder.
Paranoia also plays a role. Some Chinese leaders believe that America is nurturing a movement to subvert the government. Chen Jiping, a senior official, expressed this fear when he warned recently against “hostile Western forces attempting to Westernize and split us.” China, for a time, even blocked access to the blog of the outgoing American ambassador, Jon Huntsman Jr.
In truth, the differences with Egypt and Tunisia are profound. China’s leaders may be just as autocratic as those in the Middle East, and just as corrupt, but they’re far more competent. They’ve overseen astonishing improvements in the standard of living, in education, in health, in infrastructure. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself: That’s the topic of my next column.
Another reason for the crackdown seems to be jitters over the transfer of power next year. President Hu Jintao, who seems, to me, to be the least visionary Communist Party leader since Hua Guofeng in the late-1970s, is expected to step down and be replaced by Xi Jinping, the current vice president. Officials say that the plan is for Li Keqiang to be prime minister and Wang Qishan (perhaps the ablest of the three) to be deputy prime minister.
But there is still jockeying, partly because President Hu is weak. Chinese officials are remarkably open about criticizing Mr. Hu, and the critics are said to include the military brass and former President Jiang Zemin. The complaints have little to do with the crackdown on dissent (“That’s just a very small issue to them,” one Chinese official explained to me), and more to do with the way Mr. Hu has frozen or backtracked on economic and political reforms, allowed inflation to stir and harmed relations with the U.S.
Many ordinary Chinese seem to feel the same way. Most Chinese I have talked to don’t care much about dissidents; their main concerns are inflation, corruption and better jobs. Moreover, they feel freer in their daily lives — so long as they don’t challenge the government, it mostly will leave them alone.
Still, the crackdown represents a great leap backward, and it is particularly nasty in two respects.
First, the government is arresting not only dissidents and Christians but also their family members and even their lawyers. Second, after a long period in which police would torture working-class prisoners but usually not intellectuals, the authorities are again brutalizing white-collar dissidents.
One lawyer, Gao Zhisheng, was arrested and, by his account, subjected to beatings and electric shocks because he had represented Christians and dissidents. After a brief stint of freedom nearly a year ago, he apparently was arrested again and vanished. In China, “disappear” has become a transitive verb.
The crackdown has extended to the Internet. My teenage daughter, with me on this trip, complains that in China “everything is blocked.” By that, she means that Facebook and YouTube are walled off, access to Gmail and Google searches comes and goes, and even her homework on Google Documents is inaccessible.
Here we have a country that is coming of age, with an economic rise that is pretty much unprecedented in the history of the world — and it tarnishes those achievements with a harsh crackdown. For those of us who love China and believe in its future, this retreat is painful to watch.