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The new wind in front of the old wall

By   /   December 19, 2012  /   Comments Off on The new wind in front of the old wall

By Truong Ngoc Nguyen

Translated by Hoa Ngoc


General Secretary Xi Jinping (习近平) in the first months of power shows a series of highly symbolic activities, but what is expected is the quality and efficiency of policies.

China’s Map illustrated (source: internet)

The bitter power struggle ahead of the 18th Congress finally reached a plan derived from the existing order of stability of the regime and the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP): seven political figures elected to the Politburo’s Standing Committee, General Secretary Xi Jinping empowered Chairman of the Central Military Commission. Power concentrated in a leader, a new leader of China.

Xi Jinping had not missed the first month of “honeymoon” by making a series of symbolic activites, in which he refered to a number of priorities that the 5th leadership generation wanted to implement. Activities focus on five issues: change of leadership style, anti-corruption, economic reforms, foreign affairs and military.

On working style and leadership manners

To create the first impression for people dissatisfied with evils of bureaucracy and privileges of ruling elite, Xi had shown the image as a casual, friendly leader to the people. The leaders outlined eight regulations on working style; prohibiting officials of saying cliché, of reading text prepared by secretary in the meetings; reducing the use of jargon and increasing the use of common language; prohibiting the fanfare welcoming of leaders, abandoning partying. Xi said: “empty words are useless, only hard work can achieve the goal to revive the country.” In the first trip to the provinces (Guangdong-Shenzhen), Xi used mini-bus, did not allow noisy news, police did not shouting or using car horn loudly to block the traffic for high level leadership as before …

The Xi Jinping – Li Keqiang (李克强) institution has prepared plans for structural adjustment of government agencies, to pass in the 18th session of the 2nd Central Conference on February 2013. After the Chinese government completed the transfer of leadership at the parliamentary sessions on March 2013, these plans would be implemented in a comprehensive manner. The government would be built according to the “service model”, with criteria of efficiency, integrity and satisfaction of the people. Ministries and ministerial agencies would be reduced from 27 to 18, government agencies from 17 to 6. The (People’s) Bank of China as government agency became independent; there are rumors that Xinhua would be a corporate body …

Xi said to boosting the power of the constitution and the rule of law, stressed that all citizens are equal before the law, citizens enjoy the rights and perform the obligations, there is no high level figures be allowed to stand above the law.

Declared war on corruption

Speaking in the first session of the Politburo, Xi said that corruption like pests that are rampantly widespread to cause rotting. He commented: “In recent years, some countries have accumulated many problems over time, leading to simmering public anger, social unrest and government collapse. Corruption is a major factor causing all these problems.”

Guangdong is one of the first regions to implement the pilot project for the transparency of officials and party leaders. Officials must declare their assets. 19 city governments and districts in 10 provinces and cities directly controlled by the Central Government have been publishing officials’ assets.

A series of senior officials of the Party, and of central and local governments came to light with allegations of corruption, abuse of power, including Ling Jihua (令计划), member of 18th CPC’s Central Committee, one of the characters close to President Hu Jintao (胡锦涛), and Li Chuncheng (李春城), alternate member of 18th CPC’s Central Committee, Deputy Secretary of Sichuan Provincial Committee …

How to handling this case is a test for the policy of upholding anti-corruption banner. The analysts are skeptical about the effectiveness of transparency measures of assets due to lack of monitoring mechanism.

Reforms follow Deng Xiaoping’s way

Xi selected Shenzhen for the first mission to imitate the famous visit to the South by Deng Xiaoping in 1992. The visit aims to send the message committed to enhancing reforms. Xi urged officials and businesses “the need to realize that domestic and foreign negative (economic) impacts are long-term, complex and turbulent”; to implement restructuring “without delay”, if China would not suffer damage in the international arena.

The press also made the remarks of Li Keqiang, who will succeed as prime minister, referring to the promotion of a new strategic economic path, emphasizing the goal of “four new modernizations” in the next decade in the fields of industrialization, application of information technology, urbanization and agricultural modernization. Urbanization is an important measure, the greatest potential of expansion of domestic demands – the basic point of the strategy of economic structural adjustment. It is expected that by 2030, urbanization would reach about 66%, with the urban population would increase by about 300 million people.

Military reform continued, basic foreign policy reaffirmed

Xi has quickly established power over the Chinese Liberation Army (PLA). In the first two meetings (with the Central Military Commission and the Strategic Missile Forces), Xi requires all military leaders to improve the capability to deter and fighting through military exercises; stressed that China’s military should be fully aware of the important role of these forces in areas of security and the country’s development strategy, and the need to speed up the modernization of military, to strengthen the combat readiness activities.

In the first meeting with foreign representatives, including 21 experts from 16 countries, representing 530,000 foreign experts working in China, Xi said China will continue to open, improve and contribute to peace and stability in the world. He said countries should pay attention to the legitimate concerns of other countries in the process of pursuing their interests, and China will never develop detrimentally to other countries.

Observers said that in the beginning of the “Xi Jinping era”, Chinese diplomats will “talk less and do more”. In terms of expression, it will go towards “peaceful but uncompromising”, no concessions on the core interests and uncompromising on fundamental limit. Xi noted to the nationalist perspective of the Chinese people and understood that the support of the people is the fundamental rule of the new leadership. He pledged to “work hard for the great renaissance of the Chinese nation,” recalled a verse of the poet Li Bai: “Someday, I will ride on the wind and break the large waves“.

The wall to overcome

However, Chinese experts noted that correction of working style or anti-corruption is not new in China, but working style is increasingly becoming mandarins’ manner, and corruption’s increasingly worsening. The wall in front of internal reforms is conservatism and immutable interests of powerful political figures.

The initial activities and regulations on working style are blowing a wind of optimism among the people about the new leadership. But feelings come, feelings soon pass away, what remains are substantive and effective policies.

China is a country that is traditionally politically centralized, but there also exists the problem of local authorities ruling each a region as his feud. That is the nature of traditional Chinese political culture, also the structural disadvantage of modern China. A series of challenges await “the iron fist” of the new leadership, if they want to renew the country which accounts for a quarter of the human population./.


Source: translated from Vietnamese: Nguyễn Ngọc Trường, “Ngọn gió mới trước tường thành cũ”The Motherland, December 14, 2012.

© 2012 The Pacific Chronicle

This post is also available in: German, Vietnamese

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