Mark Mackinnon of The Globe and Mail ponders the political differences of two provincial Communist Party chiefs, Chongqing’s Bo Xilai and Guangdong’s Wang Yang, and the implications of their growing competition to define the next chapter in China’s development:
Mr. Bo and Mr. Wang are not only provincial Party bosses, but rivals for coveted spots on the nine-man Standing Committee of the Politburo – the top of China’s power pyramid – during the once-in-a-decade leadership shuffle set to take place over the next year. And the regions they now govern offer starkly differing models for the direction China should head next.
The rivalry between the two men reflects a split within the Chinese Communist Party that, no matter how good the Party is at presenting a united front to the world, some see as a struggle for China’s very soul.
On one side, there is Mr. Bo’s Chongqing model, the favourite of a powerful faction of hard leftists who are prone to harkening back wistfully to the era of Chairman Mao, and want to see the country’s pursuit of growth balanced with a renewed focus on social stability, including more equitable distribution of China’s new-found wealth.
On the other is Mr. Wang’s more open Guangdong model, the choice of a smaller clutch of free-market liberals, who argue that now is not the time to pause the country’s economic and political reforms.
The Sydney Morning Herald interviewed the visionary behind China’s most prominent leftist internet platform, Utopia, who called on Bo Xilai to usher China into a new age of socialism:
Like many leftists, Professor Han places huge expectations on Bo Xilai, the Politburo member who has revived Maoist rhetoric and leftist policies in Chongqing city.
”The Chongqing model is the only hope for China’s future,” said Professor Han.
He said Mr Bo had merged the liberal and revolutionary streams of the Chinese left but would soon dispense with the liberal part. He predicted that Mr Bo would upset the pecking order at next year’s Communist Party Congress by being promoted to premier.
”Only Bo can save communism and save China,” said Professor Han.
The Guardian profiled Wang Yang, who spoke of the pressure building on Guangdong to overhaul its development model to keep its edge in the face of today’s global economic environment:
The global financial crisis in 2008-09, however, was a wake-up call for the province. Thousands of rusting, labour-intensive factories closed as western orders evaporated while rising production costs shaved profit margins to unsustainable levels.
Years of rampant industrialisation and urbanisation had taken its toll in making cities “not so pleasant to live in”, Wang said, and change was needed.
“These realities must force us to change our mindset and change the economic development model.”
“If we do not change we would have even more problems in environmental issues and in (industrial) production … it is pressing for us to take action,” said Wang.
See previous coverage, via CDT, of shifting political winds, the ideological battle underway between left and right in China, and the unusual response to recent riots in Guangdong.