China's State-Run Media Invokes Specter of USSR Collapse

Intellectuals are taking aim online at China’s state-run Xinhua [zh] news agency for an article it published on August 1, 2013, warning that if China ever made political reforms toward democracy, the consequences would be worse than the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The long front-page piece referred to such political reform as “turmoil”, arguing that Russia has been reduced to an unimportant economy due to its democratization.

The article begins:


Many “angels”, professors, public intellectuals were making rumors on Weibo about the negative news in society, slandering the current socialist system while promoting the capitalism political system, which ignites resentment towards the current power and provokes social unrest.

The piece claims China would be in a worse situation if it chooses democracy. It concludes:

A Screenshot of Xinhua's piece

A screenshot of Xinhua's piece: If turmoil ever happens to China, it would be worse than Soviet Union


Russian media polls shows that people generally miss the powerful Soviet Union! This is the awakening of the people in Russia. The socialist system that Chinese themselves have chosen, although not the best, is certainly better than what Europe and the United States imposed on China, at least we are now moving forward, this is the awakening of Chinese people!

The piece also says:


Those “angels”, mentors and well-known people who have malicious motives, if you want to provoke turmoil in China by controlling public opinion, you’ll have to step over my body, I won’t let you succeed as long as I live!

The article was soon shared on China’s most popular microblogging site Sina Weibo and was lambasted by many intellectuals. Voice of Russia [zh] questioned on Weibo: ” How can such article be published on Xinhua?” The critical question towards Xinhua was soon censored. Voice of Russia then announced plans to translate it into Russia and send it to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Chinese netizens argued that the article avoids the real social issues that would lead to the turmoil of China.

Yu Jianrong [zh], a professor and director of the Social Issues Research Center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, questioned:


Let’s talk about who will lead China into unrest first. Isn’t it the reckless bigwigs that made the large gap between rich and poor?! Isn’t it the uncontrolled political powers that create social injustice?! Isn’t it corrupt officials that ruin morality?! You don’t look at all this, but only criticize people’s speech. What’s your motivation?

His post was shared and supported by thousands of netizens. Journalist Hua Xiangbing wrote [zh]:


I am the public intellectual, the traitor you are talking about. But I love this land and love the people in this land. The reason why I criticized the demolitions, the labor camps, and the luxury military cars and hope for constitutionalization and public disclosure of officials’ property is because I don't want any turmoil to happen to this country!

“Murong Xiaohe” wrote [zh]:

先不讨论这文章的正确度有多少。动荡是人来制造的吧?如果拼搏有公平的平台, 如果食品安全,空气无污染,住房医疗教育有保障。试问谁会去动荡?安定还来不及呢。要说动荡的主力就是对人权的漠视。对自由的打压。

Let's not discuss if the piece is correct. Turmoil is the work of human beings. If we have a fair society, safe food, no air pollution, secure housing, medical insurance and education, who will create social unrest? Who doesn't want stability? The main motivation for turmoil is the disregard of human rights and the suppression of freedom.

Netizen Lin Ping [zh] tried to explain Russia's real situation:

俄罗斯现在有多惨?:1.全民公费医疗 2.免费教育,教科书由学校提供,并提供免费早餐或午餐;3.供水供热免费,电费房价低;4.男60岁,女55岁,就可领养老金,不分工人农民干部;5.各种福利如生育补贴食品补贴等;6.人均收入达12700美元。

Please look at how miserable Russia is: 1. Universal free medical care; 2. Free preschool, elementary, and secondary vocational education, plus free lunch; 3. Free water and heat, low cost of housing and electricity; 4. Women can receive pensions at 55 years old and men at 60 no matter if you are a farmer, worker, or an official; 5. Different kinds of social welfare 6. 12,700 US dollars per capita income.

Former Google China head and China's Weibo guru Kaifu Lee wrote [zh]:


Recently someone said: If reform ever happens in China, would it be worse than the Soviet Union? But why don't we imagine that if mainland China begins reform, would it be as happy as Taiwan?

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