T WAS not a typical government press conference. A journalist had asked a mayor some pointed questions about the safety of a paraxylene chemical factory planned for her city—the same type of plant that has prompted environmental protests around China. The mayor dodged the question in standard government-speak when the reporter, a portly man in a checked shirt and blue jeans, rudely interrupted her: “Please answer my question directly.” The room erupted with laughter.
This was, it turns out, a class at the China Executive Leadership Academy Pudong (CELAP) in Shanghai—one of five national schools for training Communist Party members. The “mayor” and the “journalist” were both low-level officials from Zhengzhou, an inland city, simulating a real-life situation in a class teaching functionaries how to cope with today’s media.
The party still exerts firm control when it comes to anything sensitive. But outside politics the media landscape has changed completely. Consumer programmes, investigative reporters and a noisy mix of microbloggers and middle-class NIMBYs are holding the party more to account. The classes at CELAP demonstrate that the leadership has understood what is at stake, even if it is still learning how to deal with it. Some of the party’s biggest recent problems have come from mishandling the newly probing media.
The message of the classes is clear: officials must be more responsive to the press and the public even as they toe the party line. Environmental protests, angry villagers talking to global media and spokesmen stumbling in news conferences have become teaching opportunities.
via The party and the media: Learning to spin | The Economist.
The Aam Aadmi Party (Common Man Party) announced on Saturday that it will contest most seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha election.
AAP leader Prashant Bhushan said the decision was taken at the start of a two-day national executive meeting following the popular response across the country after the AAP took power in Delhi.
“AAP will fight the Lok Sabha election, contest in the maximum number of states, and in as many seats as possible,” he told the media in New Delhi.
He said the AAP will field candidates wherever “we have a reasonable (party) structure and we get good candidates”.
Another AAP leader, Sanjay Singh, added that the decision to enter the Lok Sabha battle had nothing to do with other political parties.
“We have made it clear that we have no alliance with the Congress in Delhi.
“We are not fighting elections to harm or benefit anyone,” he said, adding it made no difference whether the AAP decision harmed or benefited BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi or Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
via AAP to contest Lok Sabha polls – The Hindu.
Rahul Gandhi is poised to lead India if the ruling Congress party wins the next election after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signaled his support for the next member of the country’s famed political dynasty.
Singh, who yesterday announced he would step down after a general election that must be held before May, said Gandhi has “outstanding credentials” to run the world’s largest democracy. His immediate task is reviving a party that has seen its popularity fall under Singh on corruption scandals, Asia’s fastest inflation and an economy struggling to expand.
“If they had gone into the election with Singh as the prime minister, the party would have been dead on arrival,” said Brahma Chellaney, a professor at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi who worked on an economic task force led by Singh. “Removing the dead wood was essential if there’s any hope of winning some degree of credibility with the voters.”
via Gandhi Rises in India Ruling Party as Singh Says He’ll Step Down – Businessweek.
China\’s ruling Communist Party has banned officials from belonging to or visiting private clubs, saying they are often used as venues for illicit deals or sexual liaisons, in the latest move to stamp out pervasive corruption.
President Xi Jinping has pursued an aggressive drive against corruption since coming to power, vowing to pursue high-flying \”tigers\” as well as lowly \”flies\”, warning that the problem is so serious it could threaten the party\’s power.
He has already ordered crackdowns on everything from banquets to funeral arrangements, and has now turned his attention to private clubs, which have proliferated in Chinese cities, ostensibly offering a quiet place for meetings or socializing.
via China rules private clubs off-limits for party officials | Reuters.