With a Transition Near, New Questions in China

With only 6 weeks to go before formal unveiling of a new set of leaders for China, the Communist Party elders and senior officials are still deciding who will ascend to the top ruling bodies and what policy direction they will adopt for new team, political insiders and analysts say. After nearly a year in which planning for succession has been upset by an extraordinary string of scandals, the leaders and elders have finally agreed on Nov. 8 as the date to begin the 18th Party Congress, the climax of just second peaceful transfer of power in China’s Communist era. Much of the back-and-forth over succession, which officials have kept behind a curtain of secrecy, has involved horse-trading over leadership positions between a faction led by President Hu and one loyal to his predecessor, Jiang Zemin. In recent negotiations, Mr. Jiang and his allies, who include Xi Jinping, the designated heir to Mr. Hu, appear to have had the upper hand, several political insiders said. Mr. Jiang’s attendance at a concert on Sept. 22 was interpreted by some as a signal that he was still a force in the game of imperial politics. One blow to Mr. Hu this summer was the quiet unfolding of a scandal involving a powerful politician, Ling Jihua, who is Mr. Hu’s fixer. Now another stress point is becoming evident: Mr. Hu appears on the defensive over his legacy because of growing criticism that policies enacted during his decade-long tenure were responsible for the excessive growth of security forces and also stalled an overhaul of the Chinese economy that is needed to maintain its dynamism. “Right now, I think Hu feels very worried because a lot of people both inside and outside the party have been criticizing him,” said a party intellectual with ties to the leadership. “Some say he’s the worst leader China has had since 1949. Conflicts in society have intensified; monopolistic and antimarket tendencies in the economy seem to have intensified; and there’s been no real progress on reform.” Plans for political agenda and some slots in the new leadership have been tightly contested and closely held. Several people with ties to top leaders usually aware of details for party congress said they did not even know the event’s starting date until shortly before it was announced. In recent weeks, a territorial dispute with Japan and sobering economic statistics that point to a worrisome slowdown have added stress. But much greater factor behind uncertainty and delay, insiders say, has been the fallout from scandals. The ripples are still being felt. On Friday, along with announcing the date of the party congress, Chinese leaders said Bo Xilai, who was felled this year by a seismic scandal, would be expelled from the party and prosecuted on a wide range of accusations, including taking bribes and abusing his power (…..)

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/02/world/asia/chinese-communist-party-still-unsettled-over-changes.html


Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

6 Responses to With a Transition Near, New Questions in China

  1. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: China’s political system has unique advantages in the 21st century. First, the economy runs independently of politics. In a year of top leadership change, the Chinese economy keeps running at a 9% annually, despite an adverse global economy with slow growth in the US and Europe. Second, the political leadership has shown sensitivity to corruption on its own ranks. Bo Xilai –a likely candidate for promotion to the elite Politburo Standing Committee — faces stiff prison terms for corruption and bringing shame to the Party. Third, The political leadership has shown superior capability in the decision making process. The continent size territory is being rapidly integrated and China’s influence in foreign affairs is growing steadily. Income disparity is narrowing down between rich and poor regions. Regional income convergence in China can be achieved by the mid of the century, a feat that took more than 200 years in the US. Fourth, China is a positive force for all emerging markets. Brazil’s economic prosperity could not happen without China’s huge demand for its commodities. China is lifting up African and Latin American economies and contributing to poverty reduction in those countries.

    This explains why the Chinese economic and political model is beginning to be debated among the African and Latin American elites.


  2. On Nov. 8, China is set to hold the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party. We already know who will be the next party leader: Vice President Xi Jinping. What we don’t know is what matters: Does Xi have a “Chinese Dream” that is different from the “American Dream?” Because if Xi’s dream for China’s emerging middle class — 300 million people expected to grow to 800 million by 2025 — is just like the American Dream (a big car, a big house and Big Macs for all) then we need another planet (…..) To say China needs its own dream in no way excuses Americans or Europeans from redefining theirs. We all need to be rethinking how we sustain rising middle classes with rising incomes in a warming world, otherwise the convergence of warming, consuming and crowding will mean we grow ourselves to death. China’s latest five-year plan — 2011-15 — has set impressive sustainability goals for cutting energy and water intensity per unit of G.D.P. All of these goals are critical to the greening of China, but they are not sufficient, argues Liu. With retail sales growing 17 percent a year since 2005 and urban incomes up 150 percent in the last decade, “the government must also have a plan to steer consumer behavior toward a sustainable path,” adds Liu. “But it doesn’t yet.” So Xi Jinping has two very different challenges from his predecessor. He needs to ensure that the Communist Party continues to rule — despite awakened citizen pressure for reform — and that requires more high growth to keep the population satisfied with party control. But he also needs to manage all the downsides of that growth — from widening income gaps to massive rural-urban migration to choking pollution and environmental destruction. The only way to square all that is with a new Chinese Dream that marries people’s expectations of prosperity with a more sustainable China. Does Xi know that, and, if he does, can he move the system fast enough? So much is riding on the answers to those questions.


  3. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: “What we don’t know is what matters: Does Xi have a “Chinese Dream” that is different from the “American Dream?” Because if Xi’s dream for China’s emerging middle class — 300 million people expected to grow to 800 million by 2025 — is just like the American Dream (a big car, a big house and Big Macs for all) then we need another planet”. Friedman dixit on his flat world idea. China will not become the American Dream –at least in this century- for two fundamental reasons. First, the Chinese cannot spend money as the American consumer does. China has a per capita income of $ 5,414 (2011). The US has per capita income of $ 48,387. Perhaps by the end of the century, China’s per capita income will get close to the level of the US.

    Second, the Chinese growth model is multidimensional while the American model is uni dimensional.

    The Chinese model –besides profits- incorporates environmental and social dimensions. Thus, the quality of economic growth is better balanced as the country gets richer and can afford greater environmental protection. Right now, China is the leading country in the development and use of renewable, clean energy sources for electricity and transportation requirements. In sum, no reason to be worried about China incorporating the American Dream into the Chinese Dream. No danger of Mac mansions and huge SUV’s dominating the Middle Kingdom’s countryside and cities in the near future.


  4. (…..) El principal objetivo es la supervivencia política y la continuidad del modelo a pesar de los ajustes. El problema esencial radica en modernizar la economía y afirmarse en el entorno global apoyándose en un discurso nacionalista y en un ejército moderno, sin que la legitimidad del PCCh, entendido como el Estado del Estado, se ponga en cuestión. Dicho proceso ambiciona lograr mantener el poder lo más intacto posible en un escenario de cambio constante e inevitable basándose en el perfeccionamiento de los procedimientos burocráticos. Buen ejemplo de ello es el olvidado debate introducido por la Constitución de 1982 acerca de la separación entre Estado y partido, reducido a un ejercicio apenas semántico y retórico, mientras gana terreno el convencimiento de que cualquier reforma debe reforzar y no debilitar esa relación. Si en la China de hoy la cuestión central es la base del poder más que la ideología o la forma del poder, el nuevo liderazgo debe resultar de un juego de suma variable que ante las contradicciones de las luchas entre facciones y la ausencia de liderazgos carismáticos sea capaz de afirmar una autoridad reconocida por todos para dirimir las disputas internas y para imponer sus estrategias en un contexto sociológicamente cambiante. Su viabilidad se complementa con un modelo organizativo de tipo leninista que aún representa la llave de la estabilidad del sistema y con un magma ideológico basado en la recuperación de un nacionalismo afirmativo capaz de alentar el orgullo patriótico y aglutinar una idea colectiva de país. Falta saber si tan complejo tránsito es suficiente para conjurar las tres grandes crisis de confianza que amenazan el sistema: en el socialismo que dicen profesar, en el partido que procuran reafirmar y en el futuro de la nación que aseguran garantizar.


  5. Secrecy suffuses Chinese politics, and Wang Xiaofang, a former government official who writes novels about the lives of officials, says he knows why — it’s an essential part of having absolute power and is rooted in the despotic traditions of Chinese history. But that raises a crucial question: Can China, which craves modern power, attain it by operating old notions of power? It’s the subject of my Letter from China this week. As Mr. Wang, the author of “The Civil Servant’s Notebook” (just out in English with Penguin), explained recently by telephone, the basic attitude of power holders in China today is: ‘‘You don’t need to know anything. Because if you know something then you threaten my power.’’ ‘‘Hence all the secrecy that we see around us, including in the 18th Congress,’’ Mr. Wang continued, referring to the crucial Communist Party meeting that will take place starting on Nov. 8th to choose new leaders for the country. The secrecy that always surrounds the date of the congress illustrates the problem perfectly. For months, academics, business executives, diplomats and ordinary people in China and overseas tried to figure out when China’s top power holders would convene and choose new national leaders. Reliable reports put the date at mid-October — after all, hotels that host the 2,300-odd delegates to the congress were told to hold rooms empty; there were notices from the government to organizers of the Beijing marathon, originally set for Oct. 14, that it might be postponed, and a security exhibition was delayed, as Reuters reported. Early in September word grew stronger — people who had just met ministers said an internal announcement had been made for mid-October; people who hobnobbed with mandarins in the powerful anti-corruption apparatus said the same. But there was no official word. A kind of paralysis gripped parts of the powerful state-owned economic sector, with major decisions postponed, since many senior managers will probably fall or rise depending on who is promoted at the congress. Then, like a bolt from the blue, late on Friday, Sept. 28, the party announced the congress would be held later than most expected, on Nov. 8th. The South China Morning Post, based in Hong Kong, said the date was a ‘‘surprise postponement’’ and attributed the decision to the party’s desire to punish a top former official, Bo Xilai, before the meeting convened. The article is behind a paywall but can be seen here. The newspaper could be right. We just don’t know. For many — business executives, diplomats, academics and, yes, journalists — the routine, extreme secrecy is challenging. ‘‘Never, in 30 years of reporting from five continents, have I found it so difficult to be a journalist,’’ Peter Ford, a veteran correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor, wrote in March. The article was about reporting in the restive regions of Tibet and Xinjiang, but could easily have applied to heartland politics in Beijing. There has been much talk about the Asian century, led by China, and about how China’s authoritarian model is leading the country to great global power and influence. A more nuanced, and doubtful, take on the issue by Pankaj Mishra, titled ‘‘What will Asia’s Ascendance Bring?’’ is up here on the Rendezvous blog. For a longtime reporter in China, however, the key question raised by Mr. Wang’s analysis of how power works is this: Can China become truly modern and powerful by operating old systems of power that rely on so much secrecy and ignorance?


  6. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Kirsten’s piece poses a rhetorical question: “The key question raised by Mr. Wang’s analysis of how power works is this: Can China become truly modern and powerful by operating old systems of power that rely on so much secrecy and ignorance?”

    Perhaps, a paragraph in Martin Jacques book “When China Rules the World ” can shed some light on the rhetorical question posed by Mr. Kirsten. “The recognition that the Chinese exhibit certain cultural traits which can be explained by their history does not imply cultural essentialism, the idea that all nations and ethnic groups have a bundle of characteristics which remain fixed and unchanged over time. On the contrary, identities are constantly changing. (p.131)”

    Throughout history, China’s political elite has been adapting and evolving according to the circumstances. The mistakes made between the 16th and 19th centuries have been learned and assimilated by the new political leadership. Secrecy is part of the current successful political-economic model.



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