From The Economist:
Has Hu Jintao, China’s president and Communist Party chief, seen the political light? Since he assumed leadership of the party nearly five years ago, he has shown little interest in making China more democratic. But in a much-publicised speech this week, he acknowledged the growing public demand for a say in politics. Efforts to reform the country’s political system, he said, should match these aspirations. Mr Hu did not say exactly how things should change. But in recent months he has tolerated an unusually open debate about the country’s political options. Calls for a multiparty democracy remain taboo, but not much else.
In the speech Mr Hu said that, over the three decades since China began its “reform and opening up”, changes to China’s political structure had proceeded in an “active and prudent way”. More accurately, they have been practically non-existent. Yet as Mr Hu prepares for a crucial five-yearly party congress around October he appears a bit more open to ideas. [Full Text]