Fear for Reform Under China’s Next Leaders
As China’s once-in-a-decade leadership transition approaches, the current leaders appear suspicious whether their heirs will carry on their reform programs. From Russell Leigh Moses at The Wall Street Journal:
Multiple times in the last week, the Communist Party’s main newspaper People’s Daily has devoted swathes of its highly scrutinized front-page real estate to essays on reform policies initiated under Hu Jintao. These are not the newspaper’s standard, stale restatements of party achievements. They’re something stronger: An active defense of the current leadership’s policies under Hu’s tenure aimed at those in the party ranks who are clearly disquieted by the current pace and direction of reform.
[…] There are good reasons for Hu’s successors to be cautious. Against a background of economic uncertainty and political drama around fallen party star Bo Xilai, there’s a very real risk of the new leadership alienating some in the party ranks with an abrupt turn in one direction or another. Steering a safe, middle path is tempting, especially as every senior cadre knows very well the political capital that’s needed to keep reform going.
The commentary that kicked off the People’s Daily series addresses that reality, observing that “deepening reform requires not only drastic political courage, but [it] also needs to be accompanied by political wisdom.” In other words, it’s important for the new generation of leaders to continue to be reform-minded, but doing so will require consummate political skill.