26 May 1989
Today, I have been entrusted by the Centre to invite a few old comrades-in-arms, old comrades and old friends for a chat, and to vent a little.
The motivations for these student demonstrations are good, pure, kind and constructive, the objective is to overcome flaws and mistakes in work, and to run State affairs and the Socialist system even better, this is consistent with our requirements. But the methods and means that they have adopted is not very appropriate. This is not the fault of the children. First, they do not know the law or don’t know it well. Second, they lack political experience, and are insufficiently on guard against the treacherous intentions of an extremely, extremely small number of conspirators and evildoers who seize the opportunity to cause turmoil. These old comrades of ours have a responsibility to help them and make them alert. Otherwise, we will let the children down.
Now, ideologies are relatively chaotic, there are all kinds of slogans, all kinds of viewpoints and standpoints, all sorts of programmes, etc., and problems are drawn out and are not resolved. How can we unite thoughts? We have a Constitution and the law, and we should also take facts as a basis to unify thoughts with the Constitution and the law as a criterion. We cannot be “Buddhist monks using umbrellas, defying laws humans and divine” as during the “Cultural Revolution”. Is it possible that there has not been enough suffering? Do we want to let catastrophe repeat itself? I say this, absolutely not because I advocate to punish innocent students and other decent people, the issue of punishing them does not exist As for that extremely extremely small number of conspirators and evildoers, they should be regarded differently. The Liberation Army certainly has not come to deal with students.
In order to unify thoughts, I’d like to talk about the relevant provisions of the Constitution and the law.
I, Article 1 of the Constitution provides that the People’s Republic of China is led by the working class, not that it is led by the bourgeoisie, and not that the working class and the bourgeoisie jointly lead and divide all under heaven between them; that it is based on the alliance between workers and peasants, not on the basis of any other class or stratum; that it is a people’s democratic dictatorship, not a bourgeois dictatorship, and certainly not a landlord class dictatorship; that it is a Socialist country, and isn’t a capitalist country. The movement to do bourgeois liberalization in our country violates the Constitution, and violates the fundamental interests of the people of all ethnicities in the entire country and the standpoints of the Party. The 6th Plenum of the 11th Party Congress clearly pointed out that: “Doing bourgeois liberalization denies the Socialist system, it advocates the capitalist system, it basically violates the people’s interest and the tide of history, and is something to which the broad people are firmly opposed”. To unify thoughts, this is the general principle. If we do not resolve this Article, it will be impossible to unify thoughts, and there will be no way to resolve problems. The problems inside the party occur here as well.
II, Has turmoil not occurred in the recent month or so, in the capital? It has. When we look at the facts and the law, it is clear. Article 35 of the Constitution provides that citizens have the freedom to demonstrate and march. Lawful demonstrations and marches are not turmoil. But there is another article, Article 51 of the Constitution, which provides that when citizens exercise their freedoms and rights, they may not harm the interests of the country, society or the collective, or the lawful freedoms and rights of other citizens. Article 2, Article 158 and Article 159 of the Criminal Law provide for the prohibition of any person to use any means to disorder social order, production order, work order education and scientific research order and the life order of the popular masses. Now, there has trouble to the extent that even activities connected to state affairs cannot be regularly carried out, even the ceremony and reception activities to welcome Gorbachev could not be regularly conducted, there is trouble to the extent that walking the street or going to work has become a problem, what order is there in the capital? Can we still say that there is no damage to the national interest or the social interest? Is this no turmoil? Who of us wants to admit that this sort of activity is not turmoil, when in fact it is equal to encouraging all localities in the entire country that it is permitted to make trouble as in Beijing, how can reform, opening up and Socialist modernisation construction still be conducted! But we must strictly separate the extremely extremely small number of people creating turmoil from the students with pure motives and other decent people.
III, Is the State Council decision that parts of the capital are under a curfew lawful or not? Some people say that the State Council does not have this power, and that the NPC Standing Committee should cancel the proclamation of martial law promulgated by the State Council. Here, there are also some lacks of understanding and misunderstanding of the Constitution, some also have ulterior motives. Article 89 Clause 16 of the Constitution provides that the State Council has the power to decide on martial law inside a provincial, autonomous region or municipal scope. The total area of Beijing Municipality is 16-17000 square kilometres, and the region where martial law is implemented is not bigger than about a thousand square kilometres. In order to safeguard the dignity of the Constitution, safeguard social order, production, work order, education and research order and the life order of the popular masses in the capital, the State Council has decided to impose martial law on a part of the capital, this is completely lawful, necessary and correct. Article 67 Clause 7 of the Constitution provides that the NPC Standing Committee has the power to cancel administrative regulations, decisions and decrees formulated by the State Council that conflict with the Constitution and the law. Please pay attention, what is said here is “conflict” with the Constitution and the law. There is nothing else. The proclamation of martial law by the State Council completely conforms to the Constitution and the law, and there is no conflict at all with the Constitution and the Law. How could the NPC Standing Committee not support this?
IV, Any organization and individual must respect the Constitution and the law. Constitution provides that “the people of all ethnicities in the entire country, all State organs and armed forces, all political parties and social organizations, all enterprises, undertakings and organizations, must make the Constitution into the basic norm for their activities”, “[They] must respect the Constitution and the law”, “all acts violating the Constitution and the law must be punished”, “no organization or individual may have the privilege to exceed the Constitution and the law”. The Chinese Communist Party clearly provides in its Party Constitution that “the Party must act within the scope of the Constitution and the law”. State organs includes the State Council and also includes the NPC Standing Committee; all political parties, includes the Communist Party and the democratic parties; individuals includes common people and includes Party and State leaders. Everyone is equal in front of the law, everyone must act within the scope of the Constitution and the law, no-one has the privilege to exceed the Constitution or the law. Some people talk about the legal system, but in fact, they don’t only trample the Constitution and the law underfoot themselves, but they also incite others to violate the Constitution and the law, and students and masses from all walks of life are invited remain vigilant.
Lastly, I’d like to say three things: first, “taking facts as the basis and taking the law as the criterion” as I said here is used to unify thoughts. Second, we must absolutely persist in the legal system, we cannot engage in personal rule, no-one can have the privilege to exceed the Constitution and the law, it is hoped that everyone uses the Constitution and the law as a norm for their own actions, the problems raised by the masses must be calmly and dispassionately resolved through democratic and legal system tracks, and seeking truth from fact. Third, we must treasure the students, I hope everyone again thinks of means to do some work, ensure that the students and masses from all walks of life together unite around the Party and the government, stop the turmoil, restore order, improve work, overcome difficulties, and run State affairs well.
Note: This is the speech of Comrade Peng Zhen at the 7th National People’s Congress Standing Committee Extra-Party Vice-committee head meeting.