Wandering China

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Chinese leaders revive Marxist orthodoxy [Asia Times Online]

Following the previous post on China’s outlay on public security, this article reveals it is almost as big as China’s military spending. That must be significant as it reveals that concern about internal well-being is as priced as an external show of ascension.

“The National People’s Congress last March approved outlays worth 514 billion yuan ($75.26 billion) for public-security departments this year, which are almost as big as the People’s Liberation Army budget of 532 billion yuan ($77.89 billion).”

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Chinese leaders revive Marxist orthodoxy
By Willy Lam
This article first appeared in The Jamestown Foundation
Source – Asia Times, published May 01, 2010

Two unusual developments in elite Chinese politics have observers wondering if the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is moving toward political reform and changes in its policy toward ethnic minorities.

On April 15, Premier Wen Jiabao published an article in the People’s Daily – the party’s mouthpiece – that heaped accolades on the late party chief Hu Yaobang, who was sacked by patriarch Deng Xiaoping in 1987 for failing to deal harshly with free-thinking intellectuals. On top of that, the hardline “Emperor of Xinjiang”, Wang Lequan, was replaced last weekend as party secretary of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region (XAR) by the Hunan party boss, Zhang Chunxian, who is deemed a moderate.

While noteworthy, these portents of possible liberalization, however, have been counter-balanced by potent flare-ups of orthodoxy at the party-ideology level. Senior cadres and theoreticians have been called on to uphold the mantra of Chinese-style Marxism as the be-all and end-all of politics. Moreover, instead of relying on political reforms to defuse socio-political contradictions, the CCP leadership is devoting unprecedented resources to boosting its security and control apparatus.

Wen’s eulogy of Hu has elicited attention in and out of China because the liberal party leader’s death 21 years ago was the immediate cause of student protests that ended in the bloody Tiananmen Square crackdown. In his article, Wen saluted Hu’s “superior working style of being totally devoted to the suffering of the masses”. The premier, who worked under Hu from 1985 to 1987, also praised his former boss’s “lofty morality and openness [of character]”.

The article has led to speculation that the CCP leadership might consider re-introducing reforms associated with Hu – and even reappraising the verdict on the June 4, 1989, massacre. The day the article appeared, some 20,000 Chinese posted comments on sina.com, a popular portal. Many hailed the article as a “positive development” in the direction of liberalization.

There is, however, no credible evidence that Wen’s intent is to signal that the CCP is about to inaugurate a cycle of reform. Yang Jisheng, a former Xinhua News Agency editor and biographer of the late Zhao Ziyang – who was ousted after the Tiananmen incident – said the piece could “not be interpreted as a harbinger for the return of reforms”.

Moreover, the decision to rehabilitate Hu’s reputation had been made by President Hu Jintao and his Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC) colleagues in early 2005. On the late leader’s 90th birthday in November of that year, the CCP held a commemorative meeting at the Great Hall of the People in which Hu posthumously received effusive praise for his contribution to the party and country.

Political observers in Beijing say it is probable that Wen’s article is an effort by President Hu to bolster the status of the Communist Youth League (CYL) as the dominant – and perhaps most progressive – faction within the party. Indeed, Hu Yaobang was a founder of the league, and it was owing to his patronage that Hu Jintao became CYL first party secretary in 1984. It is understood that in the run-up to the 18th CCP Congress scheduled for 2012, President Hu has been pulling out all the stops to induct more CYL affiliates to the politburo and PBSC.

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Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Communications, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Education, Influence, International Relations, Nationalism, Politics

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June 2010

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