As the long-awaited 18th Party Congress kicked off in Beijing, President Hu Jintao, who is slated to step down from his position early next year, gave a work report that lasted close to two hours. Hu spoke out strongly against corruption, without mentioning Bo Xilai or other recent prominent cases by name. He also advocated systematic political reforms, but didn’t offer specifics and clarified at the end, “However, we will never copy a Western political system.” The New York Times reports:
Mr. Hu told the ranks of party-picked delegates assembled in the Great Hall of the People that China faced a period of major change and “complicated domestic and international circumstances.” Seated near him was his presumed successor, Xi Jinping, who is all but certain to take over as party chief after the congress ends next week and to take the reins as president in March.
Mr. Xi has privately signaled that he is aware of increasingly urgent calls from economists, intellectuals and some party insiders for a new round of market liberalization and even measured political relaxation to cure what they see as a deepening economic and social malaise. Mr. Hu acknowledged the problems facing the party, including corruption, but avoided specific mention of the scandals that have blighted his final year in power.
“Currently, the conditions of the world, the country and the party are continuing to undergo profound changes,” he said, reading from excerpts from his report to the party congress, which convenes every five years.
And from Reuters:
“Combating corruption and promoting political integrity, which is a major political issue of great concern to the people, is a clear-cut and long-term political commitment of the party,” Hu warned. He was opening a week-long congress at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People that will usher in a
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