Full Citation

  • Title Communism Trembles
  • Author The New York Times
  • Publication Title International Herald Tribune (European Edition)
  • Collection International Herald Tribune (European Edition)
  • Date Monday,  June 12, 1989
  • Issue Number 33062
  • Page Number 8
  • Place of Publication Paris, France
  • Language English
  • Document Type Editorial
  • Publication Section Opinion and Editorial
  • Source Library The New York Times Company
Communism Trembles In China, what began as new hope for democracy now seems to be trailing off into old repression. A Poland that imposed mar- tial law in 1981 has just completed a free election that legitimized opposition. The new Soviet Congress does not recognize the idea of loyal opposition, but daily listens to critical voices. Other tremors shake com- munism, from Hungary to Vietnam. It is tempting to forge all this into a theory of history. Perhaps there is a contin- uum in the development of Communist states: China is taking the first faltering steps toward democracy and a free-market economy; the Soviet Union is experiment- ; ing with the next stage; Poland has ad- vanced to a pre-takeoff position. But it is difficult to see such straight lines, let alone inexorability in an honest look at the facts, Each country seems caught more in its own culture and history. And to keep up with the tumult, U.S. policy will have to be true to its values, and nimble. Deng Xiaoping and his cohorts loosened state and party controls to promote eco- t nomic growth, and with some good results, A month ago, students took Tiananmen Square to demand political rights, more or less independent of the economic situation. They had their supporters, apparently, in the ruling party elites, and for a time, power teetered between reformers and hard-liners. Last week, the hard-liners gained control, For troops to shoot into unarmed crowds horrified the world, but it cleared the streets and clarified the scene. Maybe the spirit of the protesters will lead to more confronta- tions or peaceful change. Maybe the crack- down will deepen and endure, a result more in keeping with Chinese history. Soviet economic stagnation prompted Mikhail Gorbachev to grant increasing doses of glasnost. His theory apparently has been that there can be no perestroika or economic reform without political open- ness. That openness continued to flower last week as the Gorbachev government announced it would cut military spending by a third in the coming years, and as the head of the KGB called for parliamentary oversight of his dread organization, But Mr. Gorbachev may not succeed in bringing about a peaceful transition any more than Mr. Deng. It was Mr. Deng who courageously led China away from the tyr- Mr. Deng who is being held responsible for last week’s brutal crackdown. At some point, Mr. Gorbachev might also come un¬ der pressure to use force. He must right now contend with nationalistic eruptions from Uzbekistan to Estonia. What should U.S. foreign policy be in such circumstances? Mr. Bush’s formula for handling the Chinese situation is not a bad one: Make absolutely clear where Ameri- cans stand on democratic values and use of repressive force, make clear there can be no business as usual — and still try to negoti- ate on problems of mutual interest. Poland represents an easier policy prob- lem. Last week, Polish voters rejected the candidacies of the prime minister and 32 other Communist Party leaders to the new Polish Parliament. General Jaruzelski, the Polish leader, not only accepts this but is quoted as saying that the party would relin- quish power if it lost the next election, in 1993. Peaceful transfer is a possibility in a country like Poland which has widespread support for democracy. It would be a beau- tiful sight, something the United States and the West could start encouraging now, with economic incentives, The earthquakes in the Communist world will go on. With millions of Chinese listening daily to the Voice of America and the BBC, with Russians watching Poles and Europe- ans, and with all governed by communism increasingly able to compare their misery with the richer and freer life elsewhere, there will be two profound tests: of decency in the East, and of wisdom in the West. — THE NEW YORK TIMES. anny of the Cultural Revolution. And it is