Bao Tong, the former top adviser to ousted party chief Zhao Ziyang, has said that he will be taken from his home and sent on “vacation” by police as the 19th party congress approaches.

The congress will be held on October 18. It is China’s most important political meeting, held once every five years.

bao tong
Bao Tong. File photo: RFA.

Former premier and Communist Party general secretary Zhao Ziyang was removed from China’s top political leadership after he showed sympathy for students ahead of the bloody crackdown on their pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Bao was also purged after the incident and jailed for seven years afterwards. He has been held under house arrest since his release. Authorities often take Bao away from his home in Beijing during the anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre and during important political meetings.

Constant surveillance 

Bao, who is 85, told US-backed Radio Free Asia that he was told of the arrangement by Beijing police on Saturday: “They just told me that, starting now, I should not give interviews to reporters. He also said: you’re getting on in age, it wouldn’t be good to go too far, if it’s close to Beijing, where would you like to go?”

The former official said he is currently under constant surveillance by authorities.

“They have set up a monitoring and listening station below the room where I am staying,” Bao said. “The listening station is on the ground floor, and I am staying on the third floor.”

He said that they set up an audiovisual company on the lower floor of his house, and a vehicle would arrive every day to take away footage and recordings they had collected. Once, the police station even had food mistakenly delivered to his house instead of the address of those monitoring him two floors below, Bao said.

Bao added that restrictions placed on him had been tightening in recent months.

bao tong
Bao Tong (fifth from right). File photo: RFA.

“I haven’t been allowed to meet friends for meals during these past three months,” he said. “I won’t be able to eat a meal with my wife from now until the 19th Party Congress.”

On Tuesday, Bao posted his commentary on the 19th Party Congress on Twitter, referring to a commentary he wrote five years ago.

“Five years ago, I advocated ‘Four Don’ts’ – don’t ask the 18th Party Congress to do anything, just ask it what not to do: Abolish the Political and Legal Affairs Commission’s manipulation and interference with the judiciary; Abolish the Publicity Department’s banning and inspection of books and papers; Abolish the system of party cadres and stop violating the country’s elections; Abolish the party groups’ leadership of the government.”

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.