As CPC Approaches, Is Mao’s Influence at Risk?

Reuters reports that the legacy of Mao Zedong, long thought untouchable among the pillars of Communist Party orthodoxy, may wane as the next generation of Chinese leaders looks towards reform:

Which is why the dropping of the words “Mao Zedong thought” from two recent statements by the party’s elite Politburo ahead of a landmark congress, at which a new generation of leaders will take the top party posts, has attracted so much attention.

Also absent were normally standard references to Marxism-Leninism.

The omission in the latest such statement by the powerful decision-making body, a Monday announcement that the congress next month would discuss amending the party’s constitution, has seen by some as sending a signal about its intent on reform. One of the constitution’s key platforms is Mao thought.

“It’s very significant,” Zheng Yongnian, the director of the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore, said of the removal of a reference to Mao Zedong Thought and the implications of that for the direction leaders were taking.

The South China Morning Post has more on Monday’s gathering of the Politburo, a meeting attended by current president Hu Jintao, and explores the extent to which the CCP may play down Mao’s philosophy in the 18th Party Congress:

“Bo’s red campaign and his popularity for the endeavour might have triggered fear among some reform-minded leaders that Maoism might still be popular among those left in the cold in Deng Xiaoping’s capitalistic economic reform,” said Zhang Ming, a political scientist at Renmin University.

The details about the party congress report comes on the heels of a commentary last week by the party’s main policy journal, Seeking Truth, calling for economic, political, cultural and social reform.

But Hong Kong-based political commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu said party leaders would not jettison Mao’s philosophy.

“The Communist Party stresses much on inheritance of traditions,” Lau said. “If it is allowed to take out Mao’s thoughts just because there are some doubts, then one day, people may call for taking out the ideas of Deng and Jiang.”

See also additional CDT coverage of the 18th Party Congress and China’s upcoming leadership transition.