Editorial: Party Congress Prep Work Proceeding

China’s Communist Party mouthpiece claimed in a Sunday editorial that preparation continues for this year’s 18th party congress, according to AFP:

The People’s Daily said work to hold a party congress for a once-in-a-decade leadership change later this year was proceeding, as the country marked the 91st anniversary of the party’s founding on Sunday.

But the mouthpiece made no mention of the recent ouster of top leader Bo Xilai, which analysts say exposed deep rifts within the ruling party.

“Preparation work for the 18th party congress is being carried out smoothly,” the newspaper said in an editorial.

“The party and the people welcome the 18th party congress with full confidence… This is a key moment,” it said.

The editorial called for increasing the fight against corruption, saying it was one of the biggest risks to the party, but made no mention of specific cases.

While the editorial did not call out specific cases, NPR’s Louisa Lim catches up with one Beijing-based artist who does – Zhang Bingjian, whose “Hall of Fame” displays portraits of convicted Chinese officials. While some editorials such as the one above stress the need to fight corruption, official figures show that corruption investigations are down from a decade ago and Lim wonders whether the party has decided to push ahead with the devil it knows:

But the state-run media now appears to be sending mixed messages on corruption. An editorial published in May in the Global Times argued that stamping out corruption would send the whole country into “pain and confusion.” This caused a firestorm online, after being posted under the headline “China Must Permit Moderate Corruption, the Public Should Understand,” which was criticized as “misleading” and “malicious” by Hu Xijin, the paper’s editor-in-chief.

However, the editorial did note: “There is no way in any country to ‘root out’ corruption. Most critical is containing it to a level acceptable to the public. And to do this is, for China, especially difficult.”

It was followed last week by a People’s Daily editorial, which labeled it “extremist” to criticize China just because corruption exists.

“Now the party probably thinks corruption is less of a threat than losing legitimacy by exposing how corrupt this government is,” Pei says. “In other words, it has to choose a lesser evil.”

See also previous CDT coverage of corruption in Chinese society.