As China Talks of Change, Fear Rises on Risks

Some “princeling” descendants of China’s founding fathers have been meeting to discuss political reform. They are constrained, however, by lack of consensus, webs of overlapping interests, uncertainty ahead of this year’s leadership transition and the cautionary example of Bo Xilai’s fall. From Michael Wines at The New York Times:

The private gatherings are a telling indicator of how even some in the elite are worried about the course the Communist Party is charting for China’s future. And to advocates of political change, they offer hope that influential party members support the idea that tomorrow’s China should give citizens more power to choose their leaders and seek redress for grievances, two longtime complaints about the current system.

But the problem is that even as the tiny band of political reformers is attracting more influential adherents, it is splintered into factions that cannot agree on what “reform” would be, much less how to achieve it. The fundamental shifts that are crucial to their demands — a legal system beyond Communist Party control as well as elections with real rules and real choices among candidates — are seen even among the most radical as distant dreams, at best part of a second phase of reform.

[…] An overriding worry is that unless change is carefully planned and executed, China risks another Cultural Revolution-style upheaval that could set it back decades.

[…] “Neither the rulers nor the ruled are happy with the current situation,” said Mr. Zhang, the historian. “The prevailing belief is that change is coming soon, but the question is how. Change is either going to come from the top leadership, or from the grass-roots level.”

Read more about princelings and political reform in China via CDT, particularly John Garnaut’s China’s Princelings Break Their Silence from October last year (pointed out on Twitter by Adam Minter).

July 18, 2012 9:56 PM
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Categories: Politics, Society