On April 15, 2010, on the 21st anniversary of former Party Secretary Hu Yaobang’s death, Premier Wen Jiabao published an essay to eulogize his former mentor in the People’s Daily. On April 15, 1989, the death of this foreign-minded general secretary of the Communist Party famously touched off the student demonstration of that year. It is a highly-emotional essay, which recalls a trip he took to Guizhou in 1986 with Hu Yaobang, a good friend of his that he worked with and admired. He particularly emphasizes Hu’s qualities, especially the populist rhetoric that he learned and now applies. In today's episode, we first visit this speech and ask what it really tells us about the political landscape in China. Does it telegraph an ongoing rift between a “populist” faction headed by Wen Jiabao, Hu Jintao, and Li Keqiang and a competing “princeling” elite represented by Xi Jinping?
Early in the morning of April 14th, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake leveled roughly 90 percent of the buildings in Yushu County in southern Qinghai Province. So far more than 2000 people are now reported dead, and practically the entire population of the affected area is living in tents or in temporary housing. Qinghai, and particularly this area of Qinghai, is heavily Tibetan. This dimension of the quake as well as Beijing’s handling of the rescue have become part of the focus of the story. Is the ethnic dimension of the rescue overplayed by Western media? Do encounters between Tibetan monks and Chinese government officials demonstrate tension or a successful relationship? How does the government’s ability to deliver disaster relief relate to the historical concept of the Mandate of the Heaven?
Joining Kaiser Kuo this week are Gady Epstein, Beijing bureau chief for Forbes magazine and Guardian correspondent Tania Branigan, fresh back in Beijing after a reporting trip to the remote earthquake region and with a first-hand account of the rescue efforts there. We're also joined by Jeremiah Jenne, Dean of Chinese Studies at the IES program in Beijing, who helps put both events in historical perspective. You may know Jeremiah as Qing historian and author of the blog Jottings from the Granite Studio.
Returning to Xingyi, Remembering Hu Yaobang, by Wen Jiabao
After Quake, Tibetans Distrust China’s Help, by Andrew Jacobs
Robert Barnett on the Qinghai Earthquake, by the China Beat