China, Beware – Economist

The Economist marks the upcoming 17th Party Congress by focusing on problems faced by China’s rural underclass and workers:

4107Ld3BASKING in its 2008 Olympic glow, no longer shy at counting itself among the world’s greats and blessed with a still booming economy, China looks the coming power. And so it is, up to a point. Yet as the Communist Party’s bigwigs assemble behind closed doors in Beijing for their five-yearly congress, it is China’s frailties, not its strengths, that preoccupy them.

Not for the first time, Hu Jintao, the party’s boss and China’s president, rightly picks out two big problems: the widening gap between China’s mostly urban rich and its mostly rural poor, and the party’s lack of “internal democracy””comrade-speak for accountability and the courage to question and debate. In other words, neither China’s Communist Party nor its village dwellers are keeping up as the rest of China changes fast. None of the 1.3 billion ordinary Chinese gets a vote in the party’s secretive conclaves. But among more than 700m left-behind peasants, frustrations are building. [Full text]

See also accompanying articles in the same issue:

Missing the barefoot doctors

A workers’ manifesto for China

Still in Mao’s shadow

[Image: Via The Economist]

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