At the end of the annual plenary session of the powerful Communist Party Central Committee last week, it candidly admitted that many problems threatened its political standing, including rampant corruption, ethnic tension and social inequality. These problems have “harmed the flesh-and-blood ties between the party and people, hampering efforts to consolidate the party’s ruling status”, and its “mission to strictly manage the party has never been so arduous and urgent”, the plenum communique stated.
With an estimated 100,000 street riots and disturbances across the country taking place last year, a yawning rich-poor gap and continued ethnic turbulence in Tibet and Xinjiang, Chinese leaders are clearly thinking about how best to continue their rule.
Amid widespread social discontent, many people were now questioning the legitimacy of the Communist Party’s rule, said former Chinese Academy of Social Sciences historian Zhang Lifan.
“The promises it made 60 years ago have not materialized, for instance, a directly-elected National People’s Congress [China’s legislature],” he said. “The [uneven wealth] distribution issue has not been resolved – all these affect the legality of their rule.”