Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

China Searching for Next ‘Mao’

Posted by w_thames_the_d on September 4, 2014

This sums up China’s current political situation…Excerpt

Xi’s accession last year triggered the usual wave of hope and optimism, but now much of that has turned to disappointment and even despair. His defenders, such as Kenneth Lieberthal of the Brookings Institution, make the case that Xi is just shoring up his defenses on his “left”—Maoist—flank so that he can go out and implement real reform later.

That very well may be the case, that to move “right” in China a new leader must first pander to the “left.” That was the same excuse made for Hu Jintao, who never quite executed the pivot to progress. Many Chinese now call his ten-year tenure “the lost decade.” In any event, one has to wonder about a political system that requires a new leader to endorse Maoism, implement campaigns of repression, and commit acts of aggression just so that he can sponsor what most everyone views as progress. These unwelcome acts suggest that today China’s current system is incapable of reforming itself.

China’s leaders going back to Deng Xiaoping have made the case that the country could—and should—pursue economic reform before political reform. Now, they are pursuing neither. Why? Economic reforms, initiated at the end of 1978 by Deng, have enriched state institutions, and these institutions have been able to translate economic success into political power. They have then used newfound clout to block further economic reforms that would undermine their role in society. So economic reform has stalled ever since Deng’s reign ended in the1990s.

Entrenched interests are now so powerful that they have appeared to capture the Politburo Standing Committee, the apex of Chinese political power. Because the political system has become comfortable with the status quo, reform looks dead in the water.



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