Written by students of FC1750.06
at Founders College, York University
I dreamed of Liu recently standing under the garish lights of the theater's podium, taking sips of water, and stopping to catch his breath. Among the political pundits and journalists, there were ethnic Koreans, Canadian-born Chinese, and foreign students from Hong Kong and China. Even the professors actively participated in the event. Following the speech, Liu started answering questions from the audience. Highlights:
Robert Eng, representative of Chinese Canadian students: In your memoir, you attribute high inflation and low living standards in China to the CCP's bungling of the economy. Please elaborate on this.
Liu: Political corruption is nothing new in China. Top-level corruption in China can even be traced back to the seventh century A.D. when candidates of the Civil Service Examinations often bribed the examiners, who were among the most respected officials in the nation. With the right price, people are now buying "privileges" and are being bought in all levels of the Chinese government. The justice system has been abused and is now being scrutinized. The CCP is pressured to clean up its image for the Western powers.
The Chinese government has made a national development proposal to spruce up the country's image as a booming economy fully under the control of the Communist leadership. China wants financial endorsement and political support from the West.
Doug Brown, journalist: A leading American magazine in its October 9, 1995, issue reported that former Beijing mayor Chen Xitong, charged for corruption, had been deposed by the Communist Party Central Committee. Was this a move to improve the government's credentials?
Liu: For whatever reason, cleaning up corruption is in my opinion a sign of hope for China.
Richard Kim: You praise the Korean and Burmese student activists in your memoir. I am sure you have already heard of the scandal that involves Roh Tae Woo, former Korean president. Do you think since the military takeover of Korean politics in 1962, corruption and dictatorship have persisted in Korea?
Liu: Although you can't help but admire Korea's current economic growth, the public had paid a terrible price. A perfect example would be the Kwangju massacre in 1980 that claimed the lives of more than 200 students and injured a large number of civilians. Personally I don't think the $650-million scandal will have a major impact on Korea on the microeconomic level. However, on the national level, the Korean economy may suffer as a result of a tarnished political image. People's awareness of such issues, however, may discourage similar occurrences in the future.
Ning Ming, exchange student from China: In a recent letter from my sister in Beijing, I have learned that my uncle's family had been forcibly relocated and their home is being replaced by a shopping mall. I have been so furious that I still can't get a good night's sleep. As a former member of the Chinese Communist Party, how do you explain these actions taken by the Central Committee?
Liu: Yes, I know for a fact that cases such as your uncle's are common in China today. In a rush to modernization, ancient landmarks, tea gardens, houses and elegant courtyards are being demolished to make way for tourist hotels, shopping arcades and office buildings. The city is becoming an inferior version of Hong Kong. But we should be aware of the benefits of these changes. With modernization, the next generation will live in a wealthy nation.
Nancy Ho, student from Hong Kong: What do you think will happen to Hong Kong after 1997?
Liu: I have two answers. Politically, I believe that there will be no major changes until well into the year 2000, as the Chinese government has promised. After that, who knows! It's in the hands of fate. Hong Kong will certainly grow by taking advantage of China's cheap labor and abundant resources. Most people seem to be chiefly concerned with what will happen to Hong Kong in 1997, but I prefer to question what will happen to China after the takeover. China is under a rapid modernization spree to meet its 15-year developmental proposal at any cost. With new doors open for the eager Chinese businessmen of such a hungry nation, Hong Kong will be like a bag of candies given to a group of children. Everybody will be fighting to grab a share.
Tess Ueda: In your memoir, you claim that you have no regrets looking back in your life but openly wish for a life to live all over again at the same time. How would you explain this contradiction?
Liu: I have lived my life doing what I should do. But I wish the Chinese people as a whole could have lived their lives doing what they should do. What a pity that people of my generation only observed the Tiananmen Square massacre as bystanders but did nothing to prevent it!
Professor Mackenzie: You describe yourself as a dreamer, and socially awkward, but look at your accomplishments and the effects of your efforts. Inspired students from all over the world have gathered here today to hear a piece of you wisdom. The contributions you have made for the benefit of your country and its people are something I personally will admire and look up to for years to come. You have done more than anyone could possibly ask for. Thank you for being here with us today.
After the professor's concluding comments, the students all stood up and applauded Liu. Following the applause was a moment of silence led by Andre Durrell, in respect for the victims of the Tiananmen Square and the Kwangju massacres.
Liu Binyan. A Higher Kind of Loyalty. Translated by Zhu Hong. New York: Patheon Books, 1990.