A Second Chapter for Red Utopia

Sydney Morning Herald looks at Chinese leaders’ recent nostalgia for revolutionary heroes:

“I hope Chongqing could produce more cadres like Jiao Yulu and Wang Jinxi,” said Bo [Xilai], echoing the words of Chairman Mao in the early Cultural Revolution days.

“All district and county chiefs should be like Iron Man Wang: fearing no hardship and sacrifice; preparing to rush forward at the moment of truth,” said Bo.

This burst of revolutionary nostalgia has not been confined to ’s Chongqing. In April, , the presumed next president, marked the run-up to tomb-sweeping day by visiting the memorial hall of model worker Jiao Yulu. Xi called Jiao “the guiding spirit” of China’s grassroots cadres.

The article goes on to point out economic changes that also harken back to China’s recent past:

This week’s edition of China Newsweek reports that there are major economic reforms in progress – it just depends on your definition. The magazine went to the entrepreneurial heartland of Taizhou, Zhejiang province, where officials told of the ambitious “shareholder reform” of Taizhou’s top 100 private companies. For most of the past 30 years, shareholder reform has meant privatising schlerotic state-owned companies. This year, in Taizhou, it’s the other way around.

“In the coming five years, Taizhou’s state-owned enterprises will grow their share of the economy from 2 per cent to 30 per cent,” said Zhang Ruimin, in charge of the area’s economic reform program.

To some extent, Taizhou’s “reforms” mirror what is taking place across the world. The city’s export manufacturers (including the world’s biggest sewing-machine maker) were hit badly by the export downturn and the Government instructed state-owned banks to bail them out. It is logical that the Chinese Government wants an ownership share in the businesses it assisted, although it is also targeting firms that needed no help.

Elsewhere in China, there is talk about industry nationalisation without any obvious link to the global economic crisis.

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