Howard French reports in the International Herald Tribune that the Communist Party is losing its relevance as leaders are unwilling to make real changes that would reflect public concern:
Chinese party congresses live up to the maxim that important things are decided in small meetings, and trivial things decided in large ones.
Accordingly, who will follow Hu in five years is being hashed out in the smokiest of political back rooms, reducing the delegates who pore over the reports before the cameras, and who will eventually vote to ratify the new leadership lineup, to the role of movie set extras.
…The signs of this slow fade in credibility could be heard in the voices of many Shanghai residents who were asked in sidewalk interviews this week what they make of the ongoing political show and how they see the future.
There was lots of grumbling about the high cost of food and housing, which was to be expected, but skepticism and outright disaffection loomed large, too.
A 50-year-old engineer who gave his name as David Yuan said he had paid “zero” attention to the congress, because he felt politics were beyond people’s control.
“Our lives are like bits of leaves blowing in the wind,” he said. “We can only hope to land in a good place.” [Full text]