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    » 09/21/2009, 00.00


    Silence and inaction dominate party plenum

    Wang Zhicheng

    The expected appointment of Xi Jinping as Hu Jintao’s successor did not take place. Vague promises are made to fight corruption, enhance internal party democracy and increase inter-ethnic harmony; but Hu says China should not copy Western democracy.
    Beijing (AsiaNews) – The fourth Plenum of the 17th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China ended the way it began, without much fanfare. Against all expectations, Vice-President Xi Jinping was not appointed vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC). No final press conference was held and none of the 400 or so delegates issued any statement.

    The only way of knowing that something actually took place between 15 and 18 September was a short press report released by Xinhua, saying that the party vowed to improve internal party democracy, the fight against corruption, economic stability and inter-ethnic harmony.

    By far the greatest news was the failed appointed of Xi Jinping. All observers had predicted that he would follow Hu Jintao’s pattern of ascension.  Hu became vice-chairman of the CMC at the fourth plenum meeting in 1999, paving the way for him to take over as president and party secretary.

    The failure to see Xi appointed might be a sign that the party is divided and this despite the fact that Xi is appreciated by all factions; Hu’s and Jiang Zemin’s, the old guard and the ‘princelings,’ that is the children of party elders.

    It would also appear that the plenum gave everyone a broad margin to speak on the party’s paper on internal democracy, which intends to let members talk about problems, make complaints and criticise. It is not clear though, whether the internal democracy envisaged includes direct elections to the party’s many offices.

    Other promises also remain vague, like the annual pledge to fight corruption, which comes at a time when the number of party officials caught with their hands in the till (but rarely tried) grows each year.

    The strategy to ensure economic stability is equally vague, focusing essentially on lending to the banks but providing little stimulus to domestic consumption and improved standards of living for the people.

    Even pledges of greater ethnic harmony sound hollow in the face of daily reports about heightened inter-ethnic tensions in Xinjiang and Tibet, both of which are more like internal colonies than places of harmony.  

    Overall, after almost 60 years since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the Communist Party seems less interested in meeting the needs of the population than in holding on to power without sharing it.

    Still in one of the many meetings ahead of 1 October, Hu yesterday urged top political officials to better carry forward democracy, strengthen solidarity and resolve contradictions to improve relationships between parties, ethnic groups, religions, different social classes and people at home and abroad.

    However, for him this means adhering “to the path of socialism with Chinese characters instead of copying the Western political system and pattern,” because the supremacy of the Party and its leaders must be maintained.

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    See also

    16/09/2009 CHINA
    The secrets of the party plenum or who will succeed Hu Jintao
    Politburo member Xi Jinping is slated to become the next vice chairman of the Military Commission and Hu’s likely successor. For ordinary Chinese though, what matters is to see the party do something against the widespread corruption among its officials, which has reached unprecedented levels.

    28/08/2010 CHINA
    Xi Jinping to be next vice-chairman of the party's Central Military Commission
    Post is key step in succession process to replace Hu Jintao, set to leave the presidency in the spring 2013. Analysts are divided over the appointment; some believe it is all window-dressing.

    11/10/2006 CHINA
    Central Committee's plenum ends with 15 years worth of pledges
    In a sign that not all is well in the land and that corruption is rampant, the in camera meeting's final communiqué talks about the need for ethics. The next party congress is scheduled for late next year. Hu's political rival, Zeng Qinghong, is tasked to organise the event.

    08/10/2008 CHINA
    Central committee plenum to discuss limited reforms for Chinese farmers
    Starting tomorrow till Sunday the Central Committee of the Communist Party will hold its plenary session in Beijing. Rural reforms, poverty and unrest will be on the table. At present, farmers have no say in what happens to them. Rural incomes are four to five time lower than those in the cities.

    30/09/2008 CHINA
    In a few days Central Committee plenum to start country makeover
    Party leaders are expected to push for wide-ranging reforms that will reorganise rural areas, eliminate rural-urban gap and improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people. Experts say people are waiting for democratic reforms and the recognition of their rights. Now it is a time to act, not make promises.

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