Rome (AsiaNews) – The Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ended its plenum last night iby absolving itself. After four days of rituals and closed-door meetings, the party issued a long communiqué in which it blesses its capacity to deal with the world’s economic crisis and domestic problems like earthquakes and floods, and praises its leadership for being “the fundamental guarantee for achieving the goals of economic and social development”.
In the terse (and hollow) final communiqué, “socialism with Chinese characteristics”, Deng’s modernisations, Jiang Zemin’s “three represents”, and Hu Jintao’s “scientific outlook” are exalted as a single ascending process.
Nothing is mentioned about the contradictions generated by modernisation, like the growing gap between haves and have-nots, the exploitation of cheap labour from rural areas, the social unrest caused by injustice, the confiscations and corruption.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the annual income in China's cities averaged 17,175 yuan (about US$ 2.580) last year against 5,153 yuan (about US$ 775) in rural areas. That is more than three times: 3.33-to-1 in 2009 compared to 2.5-to-1 in 1979.
A recent survey by the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences found that the gap between rich and poor has led to “hatred of the rich”, which in turn is fuelling social tensions. Add pollution, confiscations, and corruption among Party officials, and you have all the ingredients for rising social unrest. Since 1993, when economic reforms took a quantum leap, “mass incidents” jumped from 8,000 to 100,000.
Besides congratulating itself for a job well done, the Party’s Central Committee also expelled Kang Rixin, the former head of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC). He was accused last year of taking bribes worth millions of dollars in exchange for granting contracts to companies from France and Southeast Asia.
Corruption within the Party is so widespread that it has proven impossible to eradicate. On several occasions, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao warned that if left unchecked corruption would threaten the survival of the Party’s leadership.
As a token of change in the anti-corruption fight, the Central Committee appointed Xi Jinping as vice-president of the CCP’S Central Military Commission (CMC), laying the ground for his eventual rise as Hu Jintao’s successor in the posts of secretary general and president in 2012.
Xi Jinping has the same age as Kang Rixin and graduated from the same university (Tsinghua University). In 2007, he made a name for himself for his fight against corruption in Shanghai, where he replaced then party secretary Chen Liangyu, who was sentenced to 18 years in prison for abuse of power and embezzling billions of yuan from the city’s pensions funds.
Son of Xi Zhongxun, a great friend of Deng Xiaoping Xi is described as a princeling, one of the children of the Party’s great leaders. His rise to power is largely due to family connections. As the “new” face of the fifth generation of party leaders, he is the man many hope will end corruption within the party.
Sadly, the problem is so prevalent that changing faces is not enough. According to Dr Wang Xiaolu of the Institute of National Economy, corruption cost China 9.26 trillion yuan in 2008 (US$ 1,390 billion); that is 30 per cent of GDP.
Few doubt that the party’s princelings are its most corrupt members, or at least, its richest ones. Unofficially, more than 90 per cent of the 3,220 richest mainlanders (with more than 100 million yuan or US$ 15 million) belong to this group.
For years, Hu Jintao has tried to force party officials to declare their incomes and those of their family members, without success. Xi Jinping’s election thus appears to be a defeat for Hu.
The outcome of the Central Committee also represents a defeat for Wen Jiabao. In the past few weeks, China’s premier has made several speeches in which he stressed the urgent need for political reforms in the country and the party. Even though he has never spelled out what he means by reform, he has said that the failure to implement them would jeopardise economic progress. Many dissidents and Charter 08 have echoes his words, saying that without democratic reforms corruption cannot be eradicated.
In the Central Committee’s long communiqué, only once does it say, in an almost off-handed way, that the CCP should make “vigorous yet steady efforts [. . .] to promote political restructuring.” By contrast, efforts by the party to strengthen and transform the economy and boost domestic demand are mentioned at least 34 times.
A blueprint for the future has thus already been drawn. Political and economic power shall remain in the hands of the CCP, which means in the hands of the princelings. They know what is good for the Chinese people. From a mass sacrificed on the altar of export-oriented production, they will become a mass sacrificed on the altar of domestic-oriented production, with no right to say a word.