Interview with Zhang Xide
The Deputy Chairman of the Fuyang Political Consultative Committee: Why I Sued The Chinese Peasants Study. By Wang Huoyan. July 29, 2004.
On June 25 and July 8, for the libel case of the well-known authors of The Chinese Peasant Study -- Chen Guidi and Chuntao -- and the People's Literature Publishing House, an exchange of evidence took place between the plaintiffs and the defendants at the Fuyang City Intermediate People's Court.
The media from various places conducted numerous interviews with Chen Guidi and Chuntao, but the other key person Zhang Xide had not been interviewed. The special reporter for Qianlong Net went through Zhang Xide's lawyer Zhang Jie to express our wish to interview the plaintiff.
Although the reporter was told that "there was a meeting in the afternoon" and "Chairman Zhang said no to all reporters", we were able to interview Zhang through a second attempt by his lawyer's office on a rainy Saturday morning on July 10 in his office.
Q: Why did you sue the authors of The Chinese Peasants Survey, Chen GUidi and Chuntao, and the People's Literatrure PUblishing House?
A: In the section titled The Long Road To Petition in The Chinese Peasants Study, the authors Chen Guidi and Chuntao used the peasants' petitions as background to slander, insult and libel me based upon their formulated ideas. They made things up, but it seemed to be very concrete and real and that has fooled quite a few people and misled the media. This reflects the fact that some of the media and reporters are capable of writing anything while ignoring the truth about the people. If these conditions don't change, it will be dangerous for our country.
As for the People's Literature Publishing House, when I saw in December of 2003 that This Era's sixth issue carried this article, I wrote editor Lau that this article was seriously inaccurate, I requested an investigation and I suggested a correction. At the time, he promised to contact the authors. When I returned to Fuyang and called editor Lau again, the response was: "We discussed this with Chen Guidi and I have read the report which showed that it was accurate." I asked him about which report that was. I did not expect that editor Lau would say stiffly: "You don't even know?" and then he hung up the telephone. Under these circumstances, I had no choice but to use the law.
Q: We noticed that The Chinese Peasants Study wrote about other people and named other names. But so far no one else has sued. Why did you sue?
A: I cannot say anything about what was written about other people. But in The Long Road To Petition, it was seriously inaccurate, it slandered my integrity and image, and caused severe damage to my repurtation. Although people were named in the other chapters, they were just incidential characters. The authors only used slander and insults against me, causing me serious physical and mental damages.
Q: Why sort of damage is that?
A: First of,, the mental damage was quite great. My blood pressure has gone up to 180. No matter back then or now, I was very energetic at work. After the book was published, everyone that I knew would talk to me about this affair when they saw me. The pressure was very big on me. In 1997, I had quite smoking, but I have started again.
Q: Did you know Chen Guidi from before?
A: I knew him. I knew him a long time ago. I feel that this article is best understood between Chen Guidi and myself. The reason that Chen Guidi did this was because we had crossed each other's path before. In November 1994, Chen Guidi published the article titled "The background behind a fraud case -- the history of the Zhang Guowen crime" in Anhui Province. The article libeled then Linquan County Political Consultative Committee secretary Li Pinzheng for breaking the law for personal reasons. When Li Pinzheng learned about it, he was very angry and he confronted Chen Guidi. But Chen Guidi lied that I had approved its publication and this caused a serious misunderstanding by Li Pinzheng against me.
Q: When I interviewed Chen Guidi, he said that you invited him to interview him at first and he had proof in his hands that you did sign "agree to publish" on the document. Did you sign it?
A: It was like this. When Chen Guidi came to conduct interviews in Linquan County, I did receive him. I was hoping that he would say something on behalf of the victim, but I was not going to let him slander people. I remember that the County Committee Propaganda Department comrade showed me the second half of the article as well as the first half which was already published in the newspaper. I was very busy and I did not read the newpsaper. When I was home at noon that day, I read the second half and I did not see anything inaccurate. Therefore I signed my name. I sent the first half to the County National People's Congress office director and he signed it. But the inaccurate portion was in the first half. Therefore, I am not responsible. After the article came out, Li Pinzheng came to see me. I called Chen Guidi and gave him a piece of my mind. He held a grudge against me, and so he made up lies to slander me.
During the evidence exchange this time, he paid the peasants money so that they would attack me at the courthouse. Other people saw that and they told me.
Q: Who told you that?
A: The people at the courthouse told me. You don't need to ask any more about that.
[note: This reported noted that in Zhang Xide's document titled "The Entanglement Between Chen Guidi and I", the following words appeared: "After The Long Road to Petition came out, I was angry because of the insults. He was going everywhere to get interviewed and he became the 'savior.' But something false is false. As soon as The Chinese Peasants Study came out, it was tossed into the pile of dogshit and despised by humanity. People who act with improper motives won't get a good end!"]
Q: Where do you think The Long Road To Petition is accurate?
A: In many places. I have listed the details in my article "Concerning The Factual Truth In The Third Section Titled The Long Road To Petition in The Chinese Peasant Study in the sixth issue of 2003 of This Era." I have also given the details in court. Here, I will just use the 4/2 incident as an example.
On November 15, 1993, more than 70 people from Baimiao Town Wangyu Village came to the county government to present the problems about withholding money at the town and village levels. The leaders from the county committee and the county government came out to receive them. On the 16th, the county commitee and the county government sent an investigation team down. By December 20, the basic details were known. On January 31, the county committee and the county government made three decisions: the excessive money paid by the peasants must be returned, the town leaders were told to make a serious self-reflection and the two leadership teams at Wangying Village were disbanded. The return of the money was delayed for some time and did not get resolved until March. That is true. But I beieve that I handled the matter correctly in a timely manner. As for the 4/2 incident, the province-local joint investigation team drew this conclusion: "This was an illegal act. The county committee and county government needed to organize the force to rescue the public security officers in a timely manner."
Chen Guide should not have written this Long Road To Petition thing. The petitioning by the people of Wangying Village was not a people's problem. It was a cadre problem. It was a cadre problem in the county. It is a fact that the petitions took place, but there was a political background. It turned out this way only because a cadre in the county interfered. Chen Guidi mentioned that comrade in the article. He was the Linquan County Huaji District committee secretary. When I took over my job, he had already retired. He just liked to mess with people. In 1958, he messed with Hu Quan (who was the Linquan County committee secretary and later transferred to the Liu-an District), and he did that with every single party secretary after. At the time, the local committee and the administrative departments all knew. Other than this comrade, there were other cadres who wanted to get rid of me."
Q: Do you know the reason for the conflict between him (that is, the comrade mentioned by Chen Guidi in his article) and you?
A: From 1990, we had worked together for more than four years. There was not much conflict over work matters. During the provincial evaluation of 1994 and 1995, I described him as "a flower." (laughs) [note: this is a standard way of saying that someone is good to look at, but not good for doing things.]
Q: Is he "a flower"?
Q: Then why did you describe him as "a flower"?
A: I have worked with him for several years. If I have a problem, I will say it out. I am not very considerate on basic matters. I say what needs to be said. But when the upper-level people come to do evaluations, I will usually say good things on critical matters.
Q: The organizational evaluation is a serious matter. You called him "a flower" and you won't point out his flaws. Is it proper?
A: (Sigh). Does he not want to be a secretary? It is a good thing to want to move ahead. (laughs).
Q: You don't feel that you did not tell the truth to the organization?
A: I did wrong on this matter. I understand the organization. Today's method of evaluating the cadres makes it hard to determine the true situation. You say something to the evaluation team today, and tomorrow the words will be relayed to the subjects. Therefore, unless the cadre system is reformed, this is unavoidable.
Q: After the 4/2 incident was handled, you were transferred out of Linquan County. At the time, your term was not completed yet. Do you feel that this was a form of punishement by the party?
A: I obey the orders of the party. I have nothing to say. There is nothing else that I can say. When I was transferred, I was promoted half a grade.
Q: How would you evaluate your years as Linquan County committee secretary?
A: I became the deputy secretary of Linquan County in July 1990. In May 1992, I became the secretary. I departed at the end of 1995. I believed that I really accomplished many things during my term. In agriculture, I assured food production. I developed 30 mu of land for growing vegetables. In industry, I turned a small winery that was paying 7 to 8 million yuan in taxes into a large enterprise that was paying 45 million yuan in taxes. Within Fuyang City, Linquan County had several hundred enterprises which make them the best developing county in the whole city. During my less than four years, there were 17 projects with more than 6 million yuan in investments. I had new projects each year. When the deputy provincial leader came to inspect Linquan, he was very happy with the progress of Linquan county.
As for urban construction, when I took over, Linquan county township occupied 2.46 square miles. Afterwards, it was developed to cover 6.6 square miles, as big as the municipal area of the Hofei old town. When the city roads were being planned at first, we requisitioned more than 1,000 mu of land and eliminated more than 1,000 houses. The people could not see far ahead and they were abusive towards me. After the road were completed, the people built by the roadside and they prospered. When the roads turned out to be good for the people, they were happy. Several days ago, half a dozen Linquan residents came to my home and said that they wanted to erect a statue for me.
During my nearly four year tenure as the Linquan County committee secretary, I did not do anything against the people. The people of Linquan county loved me. It is not true that I did a bad job in Linquan County. I don't feel a bit sorry. I am proud. My three predecessors and my three successors will all agree that I was the best.
I was a university student in the 1960s. I worked at the People's Commune and the town-village level for 13 years. Although my specialization has gone fallow, I have a rich experience. I am not as bad as they suggested. They cannot say that I don't know how to write, because why else would the organization need me for? The writers don't even think about the fact that my parents were illiterate without any background. All that I have achieved today was done on my own.
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