Qian Gang: How to Read Hu’s July 1st Speech?

For China Media Project, Qian Gang analyzes President Hu Jintao’s keynote speech July 1 for the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party:

In Hu Jintao’s July 1 speech to commemorate the Party’s 90th anniversary, however, we see some rather unusual shifts. Now, even before Hu has stepped aside for his successor, there is a noticeable decline in his discursive profile as the “Scientific Outlook on Development” shows a drop in frequency. “Deng Xiaoping Theory” and the “Three Represents” likewise show declines, but we find by contrast that “Mao Zedong Thought” has experienced a moderate rise. Even if we factor in instances where Hu Jintao uses “scientific development” in his speech rather than the full-blown term “Scientific Outlook on Development” (stressing that this abridged form cannot, strictly speaking, be regarded as an equivalent), we count only 9 instances altogether, far below the 17 full uses of the term Hu logged in his speech to commemorate the 85th anniversary of the Party in 2006. We can guess, therefore, that Hu’s trademark political term will see a dramatic fall in the upcoming political report to the 18th Party Congress.

When I searched archives of the CCP’s official People’s Daily from 1997 to 2010, it was clear the both “Deng Xiaoping Theory” and the “Three Represents” had both reached peaks of frequency and then fallen out of use in a relative sense. Similarly, the “Scientific Outlook on Development” has steadily declined since reaching a peak around the 17th Party Congress in 2007.

Looking at the indications given in the 90th anniversary report, it seems that none of these above-mentioned theories will be important banner terms during the 18th Party Congress in 2012. Meanwhile the term “socialism with Chinese characteristics” (中国特色社会主义) has experienced a dramatic rise when anniversary reports are compared (22 times for the 70th, 17 times for the 80th and 37 times for the 90th). This term can be seen today as the Chinese Communist Party’s “greatest common denominator” (最大公约数), a term not associated with any one political figure (though it was raised by Deng Xiaoping) or political faction, and one that is not generally contested.

Read the full text of Hu’s speech via Xinhua.


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