Column : Change comes to China

Nov 15 2012, 00:45 IST
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SummaryApart from emphasising the importance of youth, the new leadership is also tackling issues like corruption head-on.

The 18th Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) selected its central committee on November 14. The Congress, which began on the November 8, comprised 2,307 carefully-selected delegates culled out of a party having more than 80 million members. The delegates have elected the central committee, which will now elect the standing committee of the Politburo.

The eventual composition of the leadership does not include surprises. Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, both members of the standing committee of the Politburo from the 17th Congress, are in the central committee. Xi Jinping is expected to replace President Hu Jintao. He is also expected to be elected as the general secretary of the CPC in its first plenary session. Li Keqiang is expected to replace Premier Wen Jiabao.

The central committee is significantly ‘new’ given that several stalwarts are no longer there. These not only include Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, but also Wu Bangguo, Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, He Guoqiang and Zhou Yongkang. With these leaders retiring, the Chinese leadership assumes an almost completely new look.

The striking emphasis in the choice of leadership has been on youth. Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang are yet to turn 60 and are more than 10 years younger than the leaders they will replace. The rest of the leadership is of similar vintage, underlining China’s decision to put its future in the younger, post-World War generation of leaders for the next 10 years.

What is critically important is the vision of China that the new leadership will set out to implement in the months and years to come. The outlines of the vision are laid out in the resolution of the 18th National Congress. The roughly 2,500-word document traces the vision of a modern China and the efforts it needs to make in the face of some unusual challenges.

The resolution is unique in its multiple references to socialism. In a world where socialism hardly appears outside history books and dictionaries, ‘socialism’ and ‘socialist’ appear 33 times in the document. Out of these, 19 occurrences are for ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’. Clearly, the CPC has made no bones in declaring to the rest of the world that whatever changes it introduces in the future will be towards justifying and consolidating socialism with Chinese characteristics. Along with socialism, Marx makes a happy comeback in the document with 8 references. Lenin and Mao Zedong follow with a couple each. Deng

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