Anything for Power: The Real Story of China’s Jiang Zemin—Chapter 11

Anything for Power: The Real Story of China’s Jiang Zemin—Chapter 11
(Luis Novaes/Epoch Times)

Jiang Zemin’s days are numbered. It is only a question of when, not if, the former head of the Chinese Communist Party will be arrested. Jiang officially ran the Chinese regime for more than a decade, and for another decade he was the puppet master behind the scenes who often controlled events. During those decades Jiang did incalculable damage to China. At this moment when Jiang’s era is about to end, Epoch Times here republishes in serial form “Anything for Power: The Real Story of Jiang Zemin,” first published in English in 2011. The reader can come to understand better the career of this pivotal figure in today’s China.

The full series is available here

Chapter 11: Amidst Inundating Floods, the “Dragon’s Veins” Are Desperately Guarded; Utterly Disregarding Human Lives, Sorrowful Cries Fill the Fields (1998)

1. An Otherwise Small-Scale Flood Triggers a Huge Disaster

In 1998 the Yangtze River region suffered a most disastrous flood.

Although the CCP’s media unequivocally referred to this as an “extraordinarily enormous”—the type seen only once in a century, many hydrologists believed that this flood itself was not “extraordinarily enormous.” Rather, the most important criterion for measuring the magnitude of a flood is peak flow or discharge. According to information collected by the Yichang Hydrological Station along the Yangtze River, the peak flow of the 1998 flood occurred on Aug. 16, when it reached 63,600 cubic meters per second. This time peak flow was slightly higher than 60,300 cubic meters per second (a rate seen at the Yichang station once every five years or so), but far less than 72,300 cubic meters per second (a rate observed at the Yichang station only once every 20 years or so). Going on these numbers, experts considered the 1998 flood to be small in scale.

But surprisingly, the high water levels that year caused severe economic damage and loss of lives. After the disaster, which lasted over two months, the government’s internal statistics indicated that nearly 400 million people were affected, nearly 5,000 perished, and direct economic losses were over 300 billion yuan (US$36 billion).

In China, debate about the cause of the flood centered on the question of whether it was the result of nature or man-made. Many experts have come to believe that although there was a natural component to the disaster, most of the resultant damage was the product of human error. What to this day few people realize is that the losses from the disaster would have been much less severe had Jiang Zemin not decided to adamantly guard a levee that was involved and refuse to divert the flood.

2. Adamantly Guarding the Levee, Protecting Jiang’s “Dragon Vein”

On Aug. 6, 1998, the fourth flood peak of the Yangtze River’s upper region was approaching Yichang in Hubei Province. Hubei’s provincial CCP Secretary, Jiang Zhijie, and Governor Jiang Zhuping jointly submitted a request to open the Jinjiang floodway to divert the water. At noon the water level at Changsha reached 44.68 meters, exceeding the maximal water level (44.67 meters) of the previous major flood that occurred in 1954. Residents living in the floodway started moving to safe areas. Within 16 hours some 330,000 residents and 18,000 cows living in the floodway had been evacuated, but the order to use the Jinjiang floodway to divert the water never came.

The Yangtze River flood prevention plan adopted by the State Council states that once the water levels in Changsha reach 44.67 meters, the floodgate in Jinjiang needs to be opened so that waters may be diverted to the floodway. On Aug. 12 and 16, residents in the Jinjiang floodway moved twice to prepare for the water diversion. The floodgate, however, still did not open.

At 9 a.m. on Aug. 17, the flood level was at 45.22 meters—0.55 meter higher than the previous record set in 1954.

A day earlier on Aug. 16 at 10:30 p.m., Wen Jiabao listened to reports by meteorologists and hydrologists in Changsha and weighed whether to divert the flood. However, four hours earlier (6:20 p.m.) Jiang Zemin had issued an order that nearby military troops must all work on the levee. He commanded, “The troops stand united with the people, guarding the levee in this decisive battle—even at the cost of death—seeking a full victory.” Thus the flood diversion plan was not implemented.

Actually, Jiang had also instructed the central government to handle this “extraordinary flood” by following a policy of “sternly preventing the flood and guarding key levees along the Yangtze River even at the cost of death.” At midnight on July 21, Jiang called Vice Premier Wen Jiabao, telling him that “the provinces along the Yangtze River must fully prepare for the peak flood, sternly prevent the flood, and guard the levee even at the price of death.” When the third peak was passing Wuhan and three nearby towns on July 28, the Xinhua New Agency reported that Jiang “was deeply concerned.” He told Wen on the phone, “The levee must be guarded as long as we’re still alive.” When Jiang inspected the flood conditions on Aug. 14 in Hubei Province, he again instructed, “Firmly and sternly prevent the flood and guard the levee, even at the cost of death, protecting the levees along the Yangtze River.”

The slogan “sternly prevent the flood and guard the levee even at the cost of death” was quickly spread and barked out. As the situation changed, however, with the flood growing ever higher and more fierce, and with the local government suggesting many times to the central government that the Jinjiang area floodway be used to divert the water, the proposals were not approved by Jiang.

The use of floodways to mitigate flood damage is very common in developed Western countries. Using floodways in a planned manner results in the least social, economic, and ecological damage. The cost of flood prevention is also the lowest.

The Jinjiang Floodway Project was completed in 1952. During the big flood of 1954, the Jinjiang Floodway was used three times, with the peak flood level being reduced by 0.96 meters. Experts speculated that if Jinjiang and a few other floodways had been used to divert the flood in 1998, the results could have been similar to those in 1954, lowering the peak flood in Changsha from 45.22 meters to 44.26 meters on Aug. 17. If that were the case, things would not have been so dire along the Yangtze River near Jinjiang.

The public couldn’t understand why Jiang Zemin refused to approve the experts’ proposals and so staunchly opposed diverting the water into the Jinjiang Floodway. It was said later that the decision might have stemmed from Jiang’s having believed a fortune-teller who was popular among top officials in China; the fortune-teller spoke of the intricacies of “protecting the vein of the dragon.” Jiang apparently believed that if the flood were diverted into the Jinjiang Floodway by opening the floodgate, it would be the same as cutting off the “dragon’s veins.” Jiang was born in 1926, a year of the Tiger, and 1998 was the first year of the Tiger since Jiang had come to power nearly 10 years earlier. Jiang took the matter seriously and decided to guard the levee at the cost of death. It was thus that he refused to proactively open the floodgate and divert the swelling waters.

Even though the CCP is atheist in name, many high-ranking Party officials deeply believe in fortune-telling and fengshui. [1] The story of how Mao Zedong named his personal bureau of guards the “8341 troops” is a typical example. Before Mao entered Beijing, an aged Taoist monk told Mao four numbers: 8341. Mao didn’t understand it, but he still used 8341 to name his entourage. After Mao’s death it became clear that the number meant that Mao would live until age 83, and that he would be, from the Zunyi Conference in 1935 until his death in 1976, the most powerful man in China—a span of 41 years.

Among the top leadership of the CCP it is well known that Jiang is an avid believer of fengshui and fortune-telling. After the Tiananmen Square student movement was brutally suppressed in 1989, Jiang hoped to use fengshui to extend his rule. He did three things in Beijing to this effect. The first was to add water to Baiyangdian Lake. Beijing was the capital city of six dynasties and is surrounded by mountains to the east, north, and west, and by water to the south. It was considered a location with exceptional fengshui, one that “holds the mountains and carries the river.” But the CCP’s rule brought about an environmental crisis that dried up Baiyangdian Lake. Jiang told the public that by adding water to Baiyangdian he was “restoring a pearl of northern China.” His real goal, however, was to restore Beijing’s fengshui so that his rule could last longer. The second thing he did was to increase the height of the flagpole on Tiananmen Tower. Because Mao Zedong Mausoleum is right on Tiananmen Square, with Mao’s body contained therein, the structure blighted the Fengshui of the Forbidden City. Furthermore, the height of the flagpole was lower than the top of the Mausoleum, which caused “too much yin energy,” according to one fengshui master. Jiang told the public that he was “bringing glory to the country and furthering patriotic thoughts” when he increased the height of the flagpole, which became much higher than the mausoleum after the change. The third thing was to remove the dirt hill present at the Temple of Heaven. The dirt was from caves and tunnels that were dug to store food during the Mao era. It was piled west of Chaotianshen Road at the Temple of Heaven and reached even higher than the main hall of the Temple, Qinian Hall. Jiang ordered the removal of the dirt hill and planted cypresses at the site, all as instructed by the fengshui master.

Jiang is cautious about not running into “bad luck.” Although he often travels afar, Jiang has never visited the city of Zhenjiang—the name of which, in Chinese, means literally “to suppress Jiang”—as he is afraid of being suppressed and that his luck will be ruined. He is also very sensitive to the auspiciousness of the speech of those under him. Whoever say anything that Jiang rules to be taboo will meet with punishment. Even provincial-level officials have been replaced for such minor things.

When Wang Maolin was Hunan Provincial CCP Secretary, he went to the airport to enthusiastically welcome Jiang upon the Chairman’s visit to Hunan. Wang planned to extend the very best for Jiang’s visit and arranged everything ahead of time. But in a moment of excitement, Wang told Jiang, “We follow you when we’re in Beijing, but here in Hunan you can count on me.” To the average Chinese person, this is a clear expression of the host’s eagerness to please. But Jiang, whose thinking was by then fully that of a dictator, wasn’t able to see the matter in normal light as others would. When he heard, “here in Hunan you can count on me,” he thought Wang was hinting at trying to seize his power and grew extremely displeased. Not long after the incident, Jiang reassigned Wang to act as the deputy director of the Spiritual Civilization Leadership Team in Beijing—a position lacking any real power.

Wang knew that what he said had touched a sore spot in Jiang, and thereafter tried to show Jiang his loyalty at every opportunity. Eventually, Jiang did give Wang a position with power: director of the 610 Office—an extrajudicial agency in charge of persecuting Falun Gong. Wang was sued in late 2004 by Falun Gong practitioners outside of China and is now on the list of those monitored by the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong.

Jiang also likes names with auspicious meanings. People such as Teng Wensheng (“born a scholar”), Jia Ting’an (“peaceful government”), You Xigui (“lucky and prosperous”) and Wang Huning (“peace in Shanghai”) were promoted because of their names. Li Changchun was one of Jiang’s favorites because his name meant “forever spring.”

So it was that Jiang insisted on protecting the “vein of the dragon” during the 1998 flood and refused to utilize the Jinjiang Floodway. Premier Zhu Rongji and Vice Premier Wen Jiabao followed Jiang’s order with great reluctance, telling the public that diversion could result in still further economic losses. But in reality, residents living in the Jinjiang Floodway were moved to safe areas three times in preparation for the diversion and everything was ready. All people were waiting for was the order from higher up.

On Jiang’s scale of values, the lives of the millions of residents in the flood disaster areas weighed far less than his “vein of the dragon.”

3. Using the Opportunity to Dispatch Troops, Solidifying Control of the Military

Another reason that Jiang refused to implement the flood diversion plan was that he wanted to use the opportunity to dispatch troops, thereby solidifying his control of the military.

Although Jiang was the Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), he had never touched a gun in his life and lacked the credentials of senior generals who had fought in many battles. Without establishing his credibility with the military, Jiang wasn’t sure the military would follow his orders at critical times. Jiang’s wish for absolute control over the military only grew with the death of Deng Xiaoping. Jiang needed a legitimate reason to dispatch and employ a large number of troops in times of peace. If done without a good reason, the deployment could cause uneasiness and protests from surrounding countries, or even breed international conflicts. Thus, that summer in 1998 when the Yangtze was threatened with flooding at almost every stretch, Jiang saw an opportunity.

On Aug. 7, 1998, the main levee at Jiujiang along the Yangtze River broke. The same evening Jiang called an extended meeting of the Standing Committee of the Politburo. At the meeting the Politburo passed the “Central CCP’s Resolution on Disaster Relief along the Yangtze River,” urgently dispatching the PLA and paramilitary forces to the frontline of the flood. Fu Quanyou, director of the General Staff Department, followed up by commanding that all troops required to participate in relief efforts must carry out orders unconditionally and head for the front lines within two hours of receiving such orders.

During this military flood relief operation, Jiang dispatched troops from the Guangzhou, Jinan, Nanjing, Beijing and Shenyang Military Regions, utilizing the air force, the navy, the Second Artillery Corps, paramilitary police, and personnel from various military colleges and universities. More than 10 corps, 300,000 officers and soldiers, 114 Major Generals, Lieutenant Generals, and Generals, and over 5,000 officials at the regiment and division levels were sent to the levees along the Yangtze River to await Jiang’s orders. During the flood a total of 7 million troops and 5 million civilian reserves [2] were used. The total number of soldiers involved was higher than that of the major battles of Huanhai, Liaoshen, and Pingjin that took place before the CCP seized power in China.

During the flooding Jiang also ordered the practice of exchanging commanders between military regions. For example, he ordered that the Guangzhou and Nanjing military regions exchange commanders; what’s more, the flood relief troops were frequently ordered to shift military bases. This was obviously a military exercise and had nothing to do with relieving the flood and dealing with emergencies. A corps of motorized vehicles was hastily airlifted to Wuhan, and then, from there, sent to Shishou and Jianli—which were some 400 kilometers away. If this were indeed for emergency rescue, then why weren’t the troops airlifted to Shishou and Jianli directly? Why were they sent along this route, which had the effect of exhausting them and delaying the rescue? In another case, troops from the Beijing Military Region were sent to Jiujiang City in Jiangxi Province, and then later to Shashi City in Hubei Province, before being hurriedly sent to Yueyang City in Hunan Province.

As it turned out, the honorable cause of flood relief and emergency rescue gave Jiang a legitimate excuse to test his authority and control over the military during times of peace. Had he adopted the flood diversion proposal he couldn’t have enacted such a large-scale military exercise. This was another reason why Jiang insisted against flood diversion. The lives and property of the millions of residents in the flood disaster area were for Jiang simply justification for sending troops. The lives of hundreds of thousands of soldiers and officers were but a trifling matter in Jiang’s eyes. When the troops braved danger to rescue the people and their property, little did they know that it was Jiang—ironically, the Chairman of the CMC—who had put the people and troops in that situation.

While all of this was unfolding, Jiang thoroughly enjoyed being Chairman of the CMC.

On the morning of Aug. 13, Jiang, along with Vice-Chairman of the CMC, Zhang Wannian, and the director of the Central Administrative Office, Zeng Qinghong, flew to Shashi City, Hubei Province. Their trip was to inspect the high-risk areas along the Yangtze River levee and the placement of troops in the flood relief effort.

On the flight there, Jiang asked Zhang, “How many troops are there along the river?”

Zhang responded, “The PLA and paramilitary police have 130,000 troops there, in addition to over 2 million civilian reserves. In Hubei Province alone there are over 80,000 troops. The Jinan and Nanjing military regions have also prepared five divisions for emergency dispatch. This is the largest military activity along the Yangtze River since the ‘river crossing campaign’ during the civil war.”

When they arrived at the levee in Jinjiang City, Zhang unfurled a military map and briefed Jiang in the presence of many media as to the dispatch and allocation of flood relief troops. Jiang, donning a military uniform and a combat hat, acting his part as Commander-in-Chief, asked Zhang, “Where are the troops from Jinan?” Zhang pointed to the map, “In Wuhan.” Jiang asked, “Where are the airborne units?” Zhang said, “In Honghu.” Zhang then proceeded to report on other matters. After Zhang finished the briefing Jiang gave a speech. He stated, “We have proved that our troops are indeed a people’s military equipped with Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong thought, and Deng Xiaoping ideology. They are connected to the people like fish to water, blood to flesh. Like we have always said, the military and the people are united as one. Who can defeat us?”

This was the moment Jiang had longed for. He had at last satisfied his yearning to chair the CMC. In times of peace the Commander-in-Chief doesn’t face real danger, so Jiang could in those circumstances give commands the way he liked. But were there to be a real war, Jiang most likely would be nowhere to be found.

All other things aside, Jiang used the Yangtze River flood to organize the largest military operation since the Korean War and the largest military dispatch in the Yangtze region since the war against the Kuomintang in the mid-1940s. He was delighted to see that the military knew, on political grounds, to follow only his words, taking him to be the “core.” Through this operation Jiang truly established his control over the military and completed the power transfer from the previous generation of leaders such as Deng Xiaoping. This is the second real reason behind the order to guard the levees at the cost of death.

4. The Levee Collapses, Heart-Wrenching Cries Are Heard Everywhere

During the flooding, in addition to increasing the number of troops and paramilitary police, Jiang ordered that officials of various rank increase the manpower and material resources being expended so as to guard the levee. According to the Ministry of Water Resources, more than 70 million officials, troops, and civilian reserves [3] were dispatched. The total expense was over 10 billion yuan.

Objecting to the flood diversion plan, Jiang ordered that the levee be guarded with human lives and promised to give whatever manpower and material supplies were needed. Over 10 billion yuan worth of materials and money were spent in all. But the results were not good. Between Aug. 1–5 the civilian-built dykes ruptured in the Paizhou, Jiujiang, and Jiangxinzhou areas of Jiayu County. On Aug. 7, the levee along the main channel of the Yangtze broke.

The civilian-built dyke at Waijiang in Jiayu County was the first to crack, happening on Aug. 1. For the next five days soldiers and residents reinforced the ruptured area using sand bags, sunken boats, pilings, panels, cement blocks, and rocks. On Aug. 5, the civilian-built dykes at Paizhou, Jiujiang, and Jiangxinzhou in Jiayu County collapsed as well.

The area protected by the levee in Paizhou was home to a large number of people. It boasted rich soil and a mild climate, making for high yields in fishing, grain production, commerce, industrial development, and mining. When the flood danger was imminent, all the relatively strong men from the 20-plus nearby towns of nearly 500,000 people went to work on the levee. Those left behind were the elderly, the ill, women, and children under the age of 12. On the night of Aug. 5, the levee, which had been saturated with water for more than a month, could no longer hold off the increasingly fierce flood. The water tore open a hole of more than 50 meters and raced towards nearby villages, mines, schools, and farm fields. Nearly 100 paramilitary police and civilian reserves guarding the levee were swept away. Some seniors, women, and children were washed away without even waking from their sleep. In a panic, some people climbed roofs and trees only to have them, in turn, be engulfed by the flood. Homes and property that families worked for generations to build disappeared in an instant. Domestic animals such as chickens, ducks, pigs, and cows drowned in the flood. In those hours between 3 a.m. on Aug. 5 and the next afternoon, it felt as if the world was collapsing. For dozens of miles, land turned into ocean. And the flooding continued, with high and strong waves. Heartbreaking cries could be heard all throughout the area.

Government officials at various levels sent large vehicles and boats to block the dyke opening, while organized rescue boats looked for survivors. But it was too late. The flood, roaring loudly by then, could not be deterred. The materials intended to block the opening, such as grain bags, vehicles, or wrecked boats, disappeared quickly into the waters. There was nothing survivors of the flood could do to help: even the troops on the boats were having a hard time staying afloat. The rescue effort was severely hindered.

Between just Aug. 6–7 alone, some 11,000 people disappeared from the county. Internal statistics after the flood from the Jiayu County Civil Affairs Office showed that during the two levee breaks, 11,000 women, children, and the elderly went missing or dead. More than 1,000 troops and civilian reserves met with the same fate. Many families were torn apart. Entire families died in the flood. Many bodies were never recovered.

On Aug. 5, the floodwalls in the Jiujiang and Jiangxinzhou sections of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River broke in unison. Fortunately it occurred during daytime, resulting in fewer casualties. On Aug. 7, a main levee of the Yangtze River located in the Jiujiang section ruptured. The officials panicked and the situation turned chaotic. The commander didn’t know what to do, and ordered that anything mobile be thrown into the rupture to block the flood. Five million tons of rice, wheat, and soybeans, more than 50 trucks, and 18 wrecked boats were thus dumped into the waters. Later a 200-member special force group from Zhangjiakou, who were trained in levee repair, came and built pilings around the rupture; afterwards they used the pilings to stabilize pre-fabricated panels. Then they poured in mud and rocks, eventually sealing the opening. The rupture caused 8.2 billion yuan of direct economic losses. Along with 12,000 deaths that took place in Paizhouwan, another 6,000 civilian deaths and over 50 billion yuan in economic losses came about as the result of ruptures in Waijiang’s floodwall, the levees at the Jiujiang and Jiangxinzhou sections, and the main levee of the Yangtze at the Jiujiang section.

By mid-August, the flood had forced 240 million people from their homes. Disease also broke out in the disaster areas. Ever since the flooding, residents in the disaster area have born unimaginable hardship. While all of this was happening, what did Jiang—the man whom Robert Kuhn credits with having “changed China”—do with his time? Kuhn tells in his biography that in early September of that year Jiang invited “15 prominent directors and actors, including Li Qiankuan and Sun Daolin, to Zhongnanhai.” [4] What was he thinking? Did he invite them for a benefit performance, hoping to help residents of the disaster area? Hardly.

In Jiang’s own words, it was his “idea of a good time.” [5] Kuhn writes, “Zeng [Qinghong] saw that his boss was in good spirits, so he invited him to recite a poem. Never shy about taking the stage, Jiang did so—in Russian.” [6] “To no one’s surprise, Jiang sat down and started playing, and Zeng Qinghong, orchestrating, asked the guests to sing along.” [7] “Jiang played ‘An Evening in a Suburb of Moscow,’ an old Russian love song.” [8] Young actresses sang along. Then everyone joined in for a popular song, “The Ocean, My Home.” “Everyone knew the lyrics and sang together—especially Jiang who seemed devoid of artistic inhibitions.” [9] While the surging Yangtze River was itself turning into an ocean and threatening hundreds of millions of lives, Jiang was off singing, “The Ocean, My Home.” What is ironic is that Jiang—who has always been one to avoid, out of fear or superstitious belief, certain words for their possible associations—had no problem this time with the association of ideas. [10] Did he care whatsoever about the suffering of the people? Where was so much as a trace of concern for the people’s suffering?

At the Seventh International Symposium on River Sedimentation in 1998, Yang Zhenhuai, former Minister of Water Resources and Commissioner of the Ninth National People’s Congress, said that the main reason for the huge losses during the flood was that the flood diversion area and floodways were not used as planned; this forced the flood waters much higher than otherwise would have been the case.

Jiang directed the media to systematically cover up this major policy mistake. Government officials were required to repeat lies about casualties and property losses. The official numbers were set extremely low. The actual casualties and amount of property loss were more than 50 times the official statistics.

Ironically, Kuhn’s book says something very different about the tragic losses incurred as a result of Jiang’s violation of natural laws and discarding of the proposal to divert the flood. Kuhn wrote that Jiang “attempted to boost morale by praising the efforts of the people and calling their struggle a vindication of the Party, the socialist system, and the PLA.” [11] Jiang went beyond covering up his crimes, however, to involving the nation itself in the mess, putting a propaganda spin on it. Quoting from Kuhn, “The victory,” Jiang said, “also signified that the Chinese nation possesses the glorious tradition of constantly striving to improve itself and of waging hard struggle, and that the Chinese nation is a great nation with strong cohesiveness.” [12] Just what exactly Jiang had in mind by “cohesiveness” should by now be apparent: sticking to the whims of its political leader Jiang, making him always the “core.”

The CCP’s propaganda machine called the flood “an extraordinary, once-in-a-century flood,” as if the grave, man-made disaster were solely the result of natural forces. Jiang’s culpability was completely glossed over.

The deceit involved here should reminded people of China’s three-year famine, lasting from 1959 to 1961. During those three years over 30 million people died of unnatural causes, making for the largest number of deaths from starvation in times of peace ever known to history. It was one and a half times the number of casualties in the eight-year War of Resistance against Japan. The official state media attributed the calamity to an “extraordinary natural disaster.”

Scholars later found, however, that there were no serious natural disasters during those three years. Flooding and drought only occurred in isolated areas, and was nothing out of the ordinary. The real cause of the tragedy was the “Great Leap Forward” and the People’s Commune movements that the CCP initiated in 1958. The two combined to devastate China. When the famine occurred the government put up a pretense of prosperity and didn’t take any action to mitigate its impact. While the Chinese people were starving in massive numbers, the Chinese government was still busying itself offering financial and material support to other “Socialist brother countries.” Even today China’s government still hides from its people the truth about the three-year famine. As a result many there still regard the episode—a tragedy unsurpassed in history—as a “natural” disaster. So it is that the myth of a “three-year natural disaster” lives on.

To the dismay of many, Kuhn casts the heartrending flood of 1998 in a different light. In his biography he writes, “The great flood brought out both the engineer and the poet in Jiang.” [13] But as reality has it, Jiang’s supposed talents “as an engineer and a poet” manifest as ignoring the laws of physics, refusing to divert the flood for reasons of self-interest, and disregarding the lives and property of hundreds of millions of affected residents.

5. Shedding Crocodile Tears and Show Business

Jiang also seized upon the disastrous flood as an opportunity to augment his credentials and elevate his image. A bad thing was, in his hands, made out to be good. The catastrophe born of his own ineptitude was turned into a vehicle for garnering praise. This, if anything, was Jiang’s talent.

On Aug. 13, when the rupture was repaired and the flood receded, Jiang went to Hubei Province. Tightly flanked by paramilitary police and officials, his expression sullen, Jiang held a microphone and made a speech on the Yangtze River levee. He said, “Flood resistance and disaster relief are priorities for the areas along the Yangtze. We must persist, safeguarding at the cost of lives, to ensure the safety of the Yangtze levee.” Into the camera he shouted out slogans, such as, “Believe firmly, and persist in this decisive battle.”

The state-run Xinhua News Agency published a news report, from Jinzhou, that same day, stating:

The CCP General Secretary, Chairman of the nation, and Central Military Commission Chairman Jiang Zemin, along with CCP Politburo member, State Council Vice Premier, and director of the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters Wen Jiabao, endured the summer heat to inspect the frontlines of flood resistance and disaster relief along the Yangtze River in Hubei Province. They visited and consoled the troops and citizens on the frontline, and gave instructions to the flood resistance and disaster relief efforts. [14]

Even at times such as this Jiang’s media mouthpieces avoided discussion of the disaster-area residents who needed the most help. They sidestepped carrying “negative news,” as they termed it, and focused the spotlight instead on the glorious “core of the Party” who was leading the people from one “victory” to the next.

When the flood receded the Ministry of Propaganda received a command from above to use the momentum of Chairman Jiang’s “achievement of the great victory in fighting the flood” to create new propaganda for the Jiang-led “core.” A new personality cult was in the making. The tone of the CCP’s propaganda and of Jiang’s speeches thus elevated to a new pitch.

The CCP-controlled newspapers and magazines pretended to quote international media so as to further build up Jiang. They lauded Jiang with unabashed and rather ludicrous titles, setting him among the “men of greatness,” characterized by Mao and Deng.

6. A Peculiar Flood

The flood in 1998 was rather peculiar.

When the flood first began, a rhyme was oft repeated in Beijing: “Jiang Zemin, Jiang Zemin, the river water drowns men.” [15] In other words, it was implied that Jiang’s coming to power would bring a water-born disaster.

The idea was not entirely without substance. In 1996 Jiang visited a famous temple on his way to southern China. After offering incense in the main hall, Jiang went to the bell tower. The abbot tried hard to dissuade Jiang from tolling the bell, “Kind benefactor, you must not toll the bell here.” Jiang grew annoyed and ignored the abbot, tolling the ancient bell. The abbot was silent for a long time and wept. Later it was learned that the abbot knew Jiang Zemin to be the reincarnation of the king of toads. The bell he tolled would trigger the water species to bring trouble to China. After the incident floods would hit China every year and be difficult to quell.

From that point on it did seem that water-induced disasters grew more severe in China. In 1998, which was Jiang’s zodiac year of the Tiger, the flood disaster was unprecedented. In the ensuing years flooding proved to be frequent.

While it might be hard to verify the remark about a toad king, Jiang’s inclination for water is well known. He has had an affinity for water all his life, and even on foreign visits he had found it hard to resist submerging himself in water. Pictures of him swimming in Hawaii and in the Dead Sea have been widely shown in the media. Most of the hotels he has chosen to stay at have had aquatic creatures on display. Jiang’s bulging eyes, big mouth, and thin lips do, after all, resemble a toad. When he claps his 10 fingers are splayed rather than together—something unique.

Outside of China a number of persons who have studied the Book of Revelation in the Bible, Nostradamus’s book Century, and the prophecy book Push Back Pictures have in recent years come upon prophecies that would point to the unique role Jiang has played in the present day as well as the disasters he would bring to China and the world at large.

That Jiang’s origin has a deep connection with water was noted by the famous French prophet Nostradamus, who wrote:

From the three water signs will be born a man
who will celebrate Thursday as his holiday.
His renown, praise, rule and power will grow
on land and sea, bringing trouble to the East. [16]

Jiang Zemin was born in Jiangsu Province in 1926, the year of the Tiger. The Chinese character for “Jiang” in the two-character name “Jiangsu” has built into it the semantic classifier designating water. Jiang was first promoted to an important position in Shanghai, of which the Chinese character “Hai” has as its classifier the water radical. When Jiang moved to Beijing and became the highest leader of China, he lived in Zhongnanhai— the “hai” of which again has the water classifier. Many of the persons who promoted Jiang had names comprised of characters with water components. Take for example Zhang Aiping, a friend of Jiang’s uncle Jiang Shangqing, who favored Jiang in that Jiang claimed to be Shangqing’s foster child. The Chinese character “Ping” as used in the name Zhang Aiping also has as its semantic classifier the water component. When in Shanghai, Jiang was promoted by Wang Daohan. The character “Wang” that appears in his name again has the water component. Or consider Jiang’s political benefactor, Bo Yibo, who helped Jiang eliminate powerful adversaries in Beijing as he fought for power. The character “Bo” also has as its classifier the water radical. Toads prefer water to soil and detest fire, which would explain why Jiang so disliked Zhao Ziyang (the character “Yang” signifies the sun) and Qiao Shi (“shi” means rock).

One episode is telling. The Hemudu Relics Museum is located in what was formerly the Yuyuan County (now a city), Zhejiang Province. In 1982 the Museum was designated a national historic site. Qiao Shi wrote the calligraphy for a sign to be hung above the gate of the museum, reading, “Hemudu Relics Museum.” After Jiang came to power he visited the museum in September 1992. His face turned dark upon seeing that the sign bore Qiao’s calligraphy. Qiao’s name, containing the semantic components designating “rock” and “soil,” would, in view of classical Chinese physics, have the effect of inhibiting the water component of Jiang’s name. Jiang couldn’t tolerate Qiao, and grew irritated as he looked at Qiao’s writing. In May 1993, the museum, acting on Jiang’s prompting, used the excuse of “reorganizing” itself and reopening to replace Qiao’s calligraphy with an inscription written by none other than Jiang.

Something rather incredible is that the book Push Back Pictures, which dates back to China’s Tang Dynasty, predicted—in its fiftieth image—a flood that would be related to Jiang. The fiftieth image shows a ferocious tiger looking for food in the bushes. The tiger appears to be attacking something. The prophetic captions tells, “Beasts are esteemed; men are disdained.” The poem accompanying the image reads, “A man of Tiger in the year of Tiger; white rice fills the barn but is worth little. Jackals and wolves walk the streets; when clouds scatter, the sky begins to emerge.”

“A man of Tiger in the year of Tiger; white rice fills the barn but is worth little” would thus refer to the ruler Jiang Zemin in 1998—a man of the zodiac Tiger, in the year of the Tiger—failing to handle the flood well owing to self interest, the result of which was grave disaster. To block ruptures in the dykes soldiers and civilians threw large amounts of grain into the river. The violent flooding indeed destroyed many a barn filled with rice; the valuable goods were lost in but a moment’s time. The last two lines, “Jackals and wolves walk the streets; when clouds scatter, the sky begins to emerge” hint at the emergence and outcome of a conflict pitting forces of good and evil against one another, analogous to the actions of the military, the police, and other government apparatus under Jiang’s rule.

A textual comment inserted years back by Jin Sheng says, “This image describes great chaos in the year of the Tiger. The emperor will be corrupt and the officials violent. The people will have a hard time making a living. When it subsides, upheaval will unfold yet again.”

Three of the Nostradamus lines are rather self-explanatory. The last sentence, less obvious, should be read as referring to the persecution of Falun Gong in 1999—an episode following close on the heels of the 1998 flood. And it is as such that the second sentence comes to make sense. For it was on a Thursday—July 22, 1999—that Jiang, holding powers over land and sea, launched what he thought would be a swift, triumphant campaign to squash the Falun Gong. The move was to be a show of power that would solidify further Jiang’s rule. This “upheaval” will be detailed in later chapters.

7. The Anti-Chinese Movement in Indonesia

The flood demonstrated that Jiang cared not as to how many Chinese died in the disaster. Any serious natural or man-made disaster, as long as it could be used to solidify his power, was for Jiang an opportunity to seize upon. If he couldn’t make use of the occasion he would simply ignore it or pretend it didn’t exist.

At least it could be said nature played a role in the 1998 flood. That same year, however, what Chinese people faced in Indonesia was fully a man-made disaster.

A riot against ethnic Chinese in Indonesia broke out on May 13, 1998, and lasted for three days. The property of Chinese Indonesians was widely looted and destroyed. Over 2,000 ethnic Chinese living in Indonesia were killed and hundreds of women were gang raped. Some were even killed after being raped.

The international community was shocked and angered by the barbaric attacks. The United States Congress and the United Nations Human Rights Commission both issued statements condemning the incident. Leaders of many countries and organizations in kind condemned the Indonesian government. Media reported extensively on the riot. Chinese living outside of China were irate, and demanded that the Chinese government condemn the events as well.

Surprisingly, though, Jiang stated that the violence was Indonesia’s “internal affair,” and that, as such, China’s print media should not report on it; the Chinese government, he instructed, should not interfere. Thus China’s media hid the news from the people. Only a few small newspapers published short articles on the matter, and two weeks after the event, at that. Had Jiang made a public statement or given a warning on behalf of the Chinese government, the plight of Indonesia’s Chinese wouldn’t have been so heartrending and unalterable. Under the circumstances the Chinese government had the right—and responsibility—to do so. But Jiang feared that any action might affect his ties with Indonesia’s leader. Again he disregarded people’s welfare and acted in a craven manner.

Jiang’s actions not only disappointed Chinese the world over, but humiliated them to no small degree. The government of a country so large and with such a distinguished 5,000-year history didn’t show even the most basic sense of justice or responsibility towards its people. Faced with such violence, with the rape of his people, Jiang shamelessly took the stance of “not interfering with [Indonesia’s] internal affairs.” The example is yet another instantiation of Jiang’s carelessness with human lives and cowardice in the face of crisis.



[1] A form of Chinese geomancy—the practice of reading landscapes.
[2] The numbers 5 and 7 millions have taken into account the multiple dispatches of some people. For example, if out of ten civilians there were four who were dispatched three times, the total would be eighteen [i.e., 6+(4×3)=18].
[3] As per the formula in footnote 2 above.
[4] Robert Lawrence Kuhn, The Man Who Changed China: The Life and Legacy of Jiang Zemin (New York: Crown, 2004), 366.
[5] Kuhn, The Man Who Changed China, 366.
[6] Ibid., 366.
[7] Ibid., 369.
[8] Ibid., 369.
[9] Ibid., 369.
[10] That is, that of the swelling Yangtze River and the ocean he sang of.
[11] Kuhn, The Man Who Changed China, 365.
[12] Ibid., 365.
[13] Ibid., 365.
[14] As carried in China’s press on August 13, 1998.
[15] The three Chinese characters comprising the name Jiang Zemin mean “river,” “swamp,” and “people,” and it was this that the rhyme was playing on.
[16] Century I, Verse 50, retrieved from on July 9, 2005.

From The Epoch Times

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