Posts tagged ‘Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China’

07/11/2016

China and Taiwan struggle over Sun Yat-sen’s legacy | The Economist

FOR decades Taiwan’s rulers have paid their respects from afar to Sun Yat-sen, also known as Sun Zhongshan: “father of the nation”, founder of the Kuomintang (KMT) or Nationalist Party, and first president of the Republic of China.

In a ritual called yaoji, they face towards Sun’s mausoleum in Nanjing, 800km (500 miles) to the north-west in China, and offer fruit, burn incense and recite prayers.

Now that links across the Taiwan Strait are better, Sun-worshippers may make the pilgrimage in person. On October 31st it was the turn of the KMT’s chairwoman, Hung Hsiu-chu. But not only do some Taiwanese adore Sun. Museums in his honour also exist in Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and Penang. He has a memorial park in Hawaii, where the great republican spent his teenage years, and a plaque in London, where he lived in exile from 1896-97. Most striking of all, he is admired by the Chinese Communists, who “liberated” China in 1949 from KMT rule.

In the Communist telling, Sun is the “forerunner of the democratic revolution”. As one visitor to his mausoleum put it this week: just as one sun and one moon hang in the sky, “there is only one father of the country.” There may be more Zhongshan Streets in China’s cities than Liberation Avenues. To mark this month’s anniversary of Sun’s birth 150 years ago, the state is minting a set of commemorative coins, including 300m five-yuan (75-cent) pieces that will go into circulation. It is a signal honour for a non-Communist. The party views Sun as a proto-revolutionary.

He makes an unlikely hero. Sun spent much of his life not in the thick of action but abroad. Half-a-dozen revolts that he helped organise against an ossified Qing dynasty were failures. As for the Wuchang uprising of October 1911, the catalyst for the end of three centuries of Manchu domination, he learnt of it from a Denver newspaper. He was back at the head of China’s first republican government early the following year, but merely as “provisional” president. Lacking the military strength to pull a fractured country together, he said he was the place-warmer for a strongman, Yuan Shikai. The nascent republic soon shattered and Yuan crowned himself emperor. Pressure from Western powers and Japan exacerbated China’s bleak situation. By 1916 Sun was back in exile again, in Japan.

For all that, Sun had brought down a rotten empire. For years he had raised the alarm over China’s direction, denouncing the Manchus and the rapaciousness of external powers. All his life, Sun had strived for a new republican order to turn a stricken China into a modern nation-state.

His ideas were hardly systematic, but he never deviated from the priorities of fostering national unity among Chinese, promoting democracy and improving people’s livelihoods—his “Three Principles of the People”. While railing against foreign depredations, he called for Chinese to embrace Western freedoms and rights (Sun’s messianic drive may have derived from his version of Christianity). His was an astonishingly more cosmopolitan world-view than that displayed by today’s Chinese leaders.Yet the longest-lasting impact of Sun on Chinese political life derives from something different. In the early 1920s he listened to advisers from the Soviet Union, which had won his admiration by renouncing territorial claims in China. He reorganised the KMT along Leninist lines, giving himself almost dictatorial powers (in Leninspeak: “democratic centralism”). The immediate effects were striking: an alliance between the KMT and the young Communist Party and a northward military advance in 1926 under Chiang Kai-shek, Sun’s heir, that toppled the warlords who were then wreaking havoc. Sun had died of liver failure the year before. He did not live to experience the brief national unity that Chiang imposed, nor the parties’ fatal split and descent into bloodshed, nor their struggle over Sun’s mantle.

Follow the Sun

And his legacy today? Consider that among his three principles, the two 20th-century dictators, Mao Zedong in mainland China and Chiang Kai-shek on Taiwan, gave a damn only about the first, national unity, on which, by their standards, they must be judged poorly. Sun’s Leninist party organisation—never one of his hallowed principles—had a far more profound impact on the two autocrats, and still does on China’s rulers today.

In Taiwan dictatorial KMT rule began crumbling a few years after Chiang’s death in 1975. Democratic development since then, including within the KMT, and the growth of a prosperous civil society, seem in line with Sun’s second and third principles relating to democracy and prosperity. But as for the first, a Chinese nationalism: forget it. Sun’s portrait still hangs in schools and government offices, and looks serenely down on the frequent fisticuffs in Taiwan’s parliament. But after resounding defeat in elections early this year, the KMT struggles for relevance on an island that is proud of its separateness from China. If there is any echo of Sun’s idealism, it is in the student “Sunflower Movement”, which wants to keep China at bay. For many Taiwanese, the Republic of China, Taiwan’s official name, is a figleaf for independence; Sun is an old ineffectual ghost. The current president, Tsai Ing-wen of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, performed no yaoji this year.

And China? Democratic centralism still prevails—exemplified by the party’s monopoly on power, Xi Jinping’s autocratic rule and the suppression of dissent. Were Sun to speak from his tomb, he might remind Mr Xi how, under the Communist Party, national unity, real democracy and even broad-based prosperity remain elusive. He might point out, too, that when Sun adopted Leninism it was to advance rather than trump his beloved principles. In his final will, Sun wrote: “The work of the revolution is not done yet.” “Blimey,” he might now say: “Couldn’t you think of trying something different?”

Source: China and Taiwan struggle over Sun Yat-sen’s legacy | The Economist

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04/11/2016

Xi Jinping gets a new title | The Economist

COMMUNIST leaders relish weird and wonderful titles. Kim Jong Il, the late father of North Korea’s current “Great Leader”, was, on special occasions, “Dear Leader who is a perfect incarnation of the appearance that a leader should have” (it doesn’t sound much better in Korean). China’s rulers like a more prosaic, mysterious epithet: hexin, meaning “the core”.

Xi Jinping—China’s president, commander-in-chief, Communist Party boss and so forth—is now also officially “the core”, having been called that in a report issued by the party’s Central Committee after a recent annual meeting.

The term was made up in 1989 by Deng Xiaoping, apparently to give his anointed successor, Jiang Zemin, greater credibility after the bloody suppression of the Tiananmen Square protests. Just as Mao had been the core of the first generation of party leaders and Deng himself of the second, so Mr Jiang was of the third. (Hu Jintao, Mr Xi’s predecessor, was supposedly offered the title of fourth-generation core but modestly turned it down.)

Being core confers no extra powers. Mr Xi has little need of those; he is chairman of everything anyway. Status, though, is what really matters in China (Deng ruled the country for a while with no other title than honorary chairman of the China Bridge Association). And Mr Xi seems to be finding that all his formal power does not convey enough. Early this year, in what looked like a testing of the waters, a succession of provincial party leaders kowtowed verbally to Xi-the-core. But the term soon disappeared from public discourse. Its revival makes it look as if Mr Xi has won a struggle to claim it.

That may augur well for him in his forthcoming battles over the appointment of a new generation of lesser officials (the peel?) at a party congress next year. Mr Xi wants to replace some of the 350-odd members of the central committee with his own people, while keeping as many of his allies as he can. In a sign that he might be able to do that, officials have started dismissing as “folklore” an unwritten rule that members of the Politburo have to retire at 68. The rule is commonly known as “seven up, eight down” (qi shang, ba xia), meaning 67 is fine, 68 is over the hill. Getting rid of it would seem to open the way to the non-retirement of several of Mr Xi’s close allies, notably 68-year-old Wang Qishan, who is in charge of fighting graft. It might even pave the way for Mr Xi’s own refusal to collect his pension when his second (and supposedly final) term as party chief is up in 2022, and he will be 69.

There is another parallel between political language now and in 1989. The recent meeting eschewed the party’s usual practice of tying current events to the triumphs of earlier Communist history and instead set the scene by referring mostly to the congress in 2012, when Mr Xi became leader. Another time when the party ignored history in this way was after the Tiananmen killings, when it wanted to draw a veil over what had just occurred and signal a fresh, dictatorial start. Mr Xi seems to be saying, implicitly, that a new era has begun with him, core among equals.

Source: Xi Jinping gets a new title | The Economist

01/11/2016

For China’s Leaders, Age Cap Is but a Moving Number – China Real Time Report – WSJ

The past three turnovers in the inner circle of China’s Communist Party leadership have come with an age guideline for retirement: Those 67 years old or younger could stay; those 68 or older had to go.

Now, comments from a senior party functionary are adding fuel to speculation that President Xi Jinping may break with the norm at a once-every-five-years party congress late next year.Speaking to reporters Monday, Deng Maosheng, a director at the party’s Central Policy Research Office, dismissed the qishang baxia (“seven up, eight down”) retirement convention as a “popular saying” that “isn’t trustworthy.”

“The strict boundaries of ‘seven up, eight down’ don’t exist,” said Mr. Deng, whose office is headed by one of Mr. Xi’s top policy advisers. Rather, he said, retirement rules are “flexible” and subject to revision as circumstances require.

His comments were the most public expression to date of what some party insiders have been saying privately for months. The age norm is a burden to Mr. Xi as he works to sideline rivals and hold on to allies in the next leadership lineup in the party’s Politburo and its standing committee, the inner sanctum of Chinese political power.

Political observers say one of those allies is 68-year-old Wang Qishan, who has directed the president’s withering crackdown on graft and, increasingly, political disloyalty. Under the qishang baxia norm, Mr. Wang is among five members of the Politburo Standing Committee, which currently numbers seven, due to retire at the next party congress.Party insiders have also speculated that the 63-year-old Mr. Xi may try to defy another recent convention, by not promoting a potential successor to the Standing Committee next year. That could set him up to remain in power after the expiration in 2022 of his second—and by recent custom, final—term. He would be 69 by then.Mr. Deng’s comments send “a clear signal that Xi will be a ‘rule modifier’ rather than a strict rule follower,” said Jude Blanchette, a Beijing-based researcher who is writing a book on Mao Zedong’s legacy. The rules are merely norms, and not well settled, he said.

As for the age norm, China politics experts say it was introduced by Jiang Zemin, then the outgoing party chief, to push a rival into retirement at the 2002 congress. According to Mr. Blanchette, that episode showed that Chinese leaders have “readjusted” malleable party norms “to fit political exigencies.”Or, as Mr. Deng put it in a news briefing in Beijing, the “strict organizational procedures and sufficient democratic processes” used in selecting top party leaders are “subject to adjustments in accordance with practical conditions.”

Mr. Xi’s growing clout may represent just such a practical condition. A top-level party conclave last week designated him as the party leadership’s “core,” an arcane title that political observers say signified his pre-eminent status. It was previously applied to Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Mr. Jiang but not Mr. Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao.

At Monday’s briefing, Mr. Deng of the party’s policy research office said the designation reflects Mr. Xi’s unanimous support within the party and broad public acclaim, but doesn’t threaten a return of a Mao-style “cult of personality”—which the party has explicitly banned—or contradict the party’s principles of collective leadership. Rather, the title was necessary to help the party and the country overcome new economic and political challenges, he said.

Mr. Hu, according to Mr. Deng, repeatedly declined to be designated as a “core” leader.“That time had its own circumstances,” he said. “The present has its own needs.”

Source: For China’s Leaders, Age Cap Is but a Moving Number – China Real Time Report – WSJ

17/11/2015

The north star | The Economist

ASKED what they think of Lu Hao, their governor, residents of Harbin, capital of the north-eastern province of Heilongjiang, often reply with the word xiaozi. This roughly translates as “young whippersnapper”.

Mr Lu’s youthfulness is indeed striking. Born in 1967, he is the youngest of China’s current provincial governors. He was also the youngest to hold most of his previous positions. Those include factory boss at a large state-owned enterprise, deputy mayor of Beijing and leader of the Communist Youth League, an important training ground for many a national leader.

China’s system of political succession produces occasional surprises, such as the purge three years ago of another provincial leader, Bo Xilai, on the eve of what appeared to be his likely elevation to the pinnacle of power, the Politburo Standing Committee, alongside Xi Jinping, who is now president. But at least since the Communist Party began institutionalising succession arrangements in the 1990s, high-flyers have often been easy to spot. Mr Lu is one of them.

His stint at the youth league was of greatest portent. The organisation is something like an American fraternity club (without the misbehaviour)—its members form close ties which are often maintained in their later careers. Its leaders have a tendency to move into high national office. Hu Yaobang, a party chief in the 1980s, grew to prominence in the league, as did Hu Jintao, Mr Xi’s predecessor. Li Keqiang, the current prime minister, is also an ex-head of the league. Mr Lu’s stint in that role from 2008-13 made him an obvious rising star. His subsequent promotion to a provincial governorship confirmed this impression.

Youth is on his side. The next rung on the ladder to the top may be induction into the 25-member Politburo, possibly as early as 2017. But it will not be until around the time of the party’s 20th congress in 2022—a year after its 100th birthday—that Mr Xi will retire and Mr Lu will have a chance to shine, likely as one of the (now seven) members of the Standing Committee. He will then be 55, a year older than Mr Xi was when he joined the body in 2007. That would give Mr Lu a good few years at the top: Standing Committee members are expected to retire around 70. He would be a member of what party officials already call the “sixth generation” of Communist leaders (the first having been led by Mao Zedong, Mr Xi representing the fifth).

There are several other likely members of the upcoming generation. They include Hu Chunhua, Mr Lu’s predecessor as head of the youth league who is now the party boss of the southern province of Guangdong; and Sun Zhengcai, the party chief of Chongqing, a south-western region. One rising star has already fallen, however. Su Shulin was thought to have bright prospects until he was removed as governor of coastal Fujian province after being snared in a corruption investigation in October.

China’s media often drop hints of who to watch. Mr Lu’s appointment as Heilongjiang’s governor (a few months after he became the youngest full member of the party’s 370-strong Central Committee) was accompanied by a flurry of celebratory articles in the party’s main mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, and other newspapers. They emphasised Mr Lu’s youth, impeccable work ethic and solid record of excellent performance in his previous jobs.

Source: The north star | The Economist

10/04/2015

Opinion polls: The critical masses | The Economist

IN RECENT weeks official media have published a flurry of opinion polls. One in China Daily showed that most people in the coastal cities of Shanghai and Guangzhou think that smog is getting worse. Another noted the high salary expectations of university students. Yet another found that over two-thirds of respondents in Henan province in central China regard local officials as inefficient and neglectful of their duties. For decades the Communist Party has claimed to embody and express the will of the masses. Now it is increasingly seeking to measure that will—and let it shape at least some of the party’s policies.

Since the party seized power in 1949 it has repeatedly unleashed public opinion only to suppress it with force, from the “Hundred Flowers Campaign” in 1956, when it briefly tolerated critical voices, to the student-led protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989. For the past two decades, the party has effectively bought people’s obedience by promising—and delivering—a better, richer future. This will be tougher in the years ahead as the economy slows. Members of a huge new middle class are demanding more from their government in areas ranging from the environment to the protection of property rights. So the party must respond to concerns in order to retain its legitimacy.

Xi Jinping, who took over as China’s leader in 2012, has shown even less inclination than his predecessors to let citizens express their preferences through the ballot box. Yet the public has become ever more vocal on a wide variety of issues—online, through protests, and increasingly via responses to opinion polls and government-arranged consultations over the introduction of some new laws. The party monitors this clamour to detect possible flashpoints, and it frequently censors dissent. But the government is also consulting people, through opinion polls that try to establish their views on some of the big issues of the day as well as on specific policies. Its main aim is to devise ways to keep citizens as happy as possible in their daily lives. It avoids stickier subjects such as political reform or human rights. But people are undoubtedly gaining a stronger voice.

via Opinion polls: The critical masses | The Economist.

07/04/2015

Zhou Yongkang Charges Come As Xi Jinping’s Anti-Corruption Campaign Hits Snags – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Former Chinese security czar Zhou Yongkang has now been formally charged with bribery and abuse of power, in what appears to be yet another triumph in President Xi Jinping’s strategy to go after “tigers and flies”— in Chinese political parlance, both senior leaders and junior officials.

By all accounts, the hunting and the swatting have been a major success for Xi. The effort appears to be both popular and effective. For Xi, it has the added benefit of consolidating his political command.

That’s the good news.

But Zhou’s prosecution is coming at an important moment for the anticorruption campaign. A number of signs suggest that Xi’s strategy is beginning to show its age. Specifically, it appears Xi and his supporters are having an increasingly difficult time selling the idea that Beijing’s current approach is successfully rooting out the corruption that too often plagues Chinese politics.

First, there’s the fall-off in high-profile news coverage of cadres caught being bad. China’s state-controlled media still runs stories of officials who are being investigated for possible criminal conduct, as with allegations of bribery in the Chongqing city works department and claims of graft committed by a deputy director at the main television network in Anhui province.  But the focus in recent weeks has been on the identification and extradition of allegedly corrupt Chinese officials who have fled overseas. By broadcasting about those who are hiding abroad, Beijing is trying to pivot away from the persistence of graft at home. Indeed, the more cadres that are caught in-country, the more intractable the problem of corruption has to appear.

Then there’s the growing coverage in China’s state media of “maintaining political discipline”—code words for both party unity and getting cadres to conduct themselves according to rules and regulations set by the leadership.  That emphasis underscores the alternative view of some Communist party members that Beijing should rethink the way it trains and promotes cadres, rather than constantly supervising and occasionally punishing them. This conversation is taking place across major party publications, illustrating indecision in some quarters about which weapons the government should be wielding in the war on graft.

Xi’s supporters have also been forced on the defensive by the argument that the anticorruption campaign is having a deleterious effect on an already slowing national economy.  A recent essay that appeared in the Communist party’s flagship newspaper People’s Daily and various affiliated outlets argued that this “misconception needed clarification,” and went on to insist that “the anticorruption effort isn’t an obstacle but a way to smooth the path of economic development by removing inefficiencies and thereby provide positive energy,” especially in the realm of public opinion.

Even anticorruption czar Wang Qishan has had to come out in the past few days to defend the effort to go after “tigers and flies,” urging more grassroots efforts to identify corrupt officials and asking for patience from the public and fellow party members because, he insisted, “changing the political ethos is not achieved overnight.”

If Xi and his allies were in complete control of the anticorruption narrative, there’d be little need to have to counter criticism of Beijing’s current strategy.

It isn’t clear how this announcement about Zhou will end up playing out in the party ranks. If the formal charges against Zhou help to revitalize Xi’s anticorruption campaign, the strategy of striking hard will reinforce the sense that Xi is still on the right path. But to some cadres who want more accountability and party reform instead of political revenge, it may read like old news.

via Zhou Yongkang Charges Come As Xi Jinping’s Anti-Corruption Campaign Hits Snags – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

19/12/2014

Xi Jinping Wins the Popularity Contest – Businessweek

A recent survey on the popularity of global leaders is providing rich fodder for the Communist Party of China’s propaganda machine. The study, which canvassed some 26,000 people in 30 countries on their attitudes toward 10 world leaders, shows President Xi Jinping was rated higher by the people of China than any other leader in the survey was rated by the people of his or her respective country.

Chinese President Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping was the highest-rated world leader in many fields,” China Daily reported on Wednesday, commenting on the study (PDF), which was published by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School and carried out by Japanese research firm GMO. “Chinese respondents showed the highest confidence in regards to how their leader handled domestic and international affairs.”

Among the national rankings, where people rate their own leader, Xi averaged 9 out of 10, higher than any other head of state, with 94.8 percent of Chinese expressing confidence about how he handles domestic affairs and 93.8 percent saying the same about international affairs.

Xi was followed by Russian President Vladimir Putin (8.7), Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (8.6), South African President Jacob Zuma (7), and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (6.7). U.S. President Barack Obama came in seventh place, with only a 6.2 ranking. Just 51.7 percent of Americans were confident about Obama’s handling of domestic affairs, while 49.1 percent said the same regarding international affairs.

But while Xi’s high popularity is getting lots of attention in China’s party-controlled press, the possible reasons behind it are not. Leaders in countries that hold a high degree of state control over the media would naturally rate higher, the Harvard study says, a conclusion ignored by China Daily and other Chinese publications.

via Xi Jinping Wins the Popularity Conest – Businessweek.

14/12/2014

China Has a ‘New Normal’ Too – Businessweek

China’s Communist Party leaders are known for their turgid jargon, much of it dating back decades to when Mao Zedong still dominated dogma. But sometimes, apparently, they feel the need to borrow from less hoary, more capitalistic sources.

A technology and manufacturing facility in Shenzhen, China

That is what Xi Jinping has done with his “new normal” theory of the Chinese economy, now getting lots of play in the state media. The phrase, first popularized by Pacific Investment Management Co., or Pimco, the giant Newport Beach (Calif) bond fund manager, referred of course to the lackluster economic growth following the global financial crisis.

Earlier this year Xi used the then-already tired cliché while on a May inspection trip to Henan, the province southwest of the Chinese capital. Then it got a real airing during a speech he gave at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum last month. “A new normal of China’s economy has emerged with several notable features,” Xi said, speaking before more than 1,500 global business executives in Beijing, reported the Party-owned Global Times on Nov. 10.

“First, the economy has shifted gear from the previous high speed to a medium-to-high-speed growth. Second, the economic structure is constantly improved and upgraded. Third, the economy is increasingly driven by innovation instead of input and investment,” the paper wrote, paraphrasing Xi.

Translation: Yes, the economy will not grow at the hyper rates all of you had gotten used to—still, no need for alarm. We are making the transition to a healthier, more sustainable version, this one driven more by consumption, services, and, oh yes, innovation. “The ‘new normal’ theory elaborated by Chinese President Xi Jinping would be one of the hallmarks to be engraved in history,” the Global Times ambitiously predicted.

“We must understand the new normal, adjust to the new normal, and develop under the new normal—coming to terms with the new normal will be the ‘main logic’ for economic growth for some time,” the official Xinhua News Agency wrote today, in a report on the three-day, high-level Central Economic Work Conference that closed Thursday. “The new normal has not changed the strategic importance of a period that will see great achievements,” it promised.

via China Has a ‘New Normal’ Too – Businessweek.

13/05/2014

The Communist Party: The gatekeepers | The Economist

IN RECENT days government office-workers around China have been called into meetings to study an article written nearly a quarter of a century ago by an obscure local leader on how to be a good secretary. Its advice—act modestly and don’t abuse your position for profit—would be banal were it not for the job the author now holds. The article was written by the current president, Xi Jinping. Those attending know full well that the purpose of the meetings is not to share tips on how to keep bosses happy, but to focus minds on a bigger issue: that personal assistants to leaders are often hugely powerful and sometimes just as hugely corrupt. And Mr Xi wants to rein them in.

A string of detentions has shed new light on the power of mishu, as these assistants are known. Between June and February, news emerged of investigations into four former mishu of Zhou Yongkang, a retired member of the Communist Party’s supreme body, the Politburo standing committee. Although the party does not say so, it is an open secret that Mr Zhou is the main target of China’s biggest anti-corruption campaign in years. He is the first person of standing-committee rank to face a corruption inquiry since the party came to power in 1949. Mr Xi appears not to want state-controlled media to mention Mr Zhou or his sins until a case against him is fully prepared. But the mishu, along with several other associates of Mr Zhou who have been detained in recent months, have become fairer game.

The alleged offences of the “mishu gang”, as the four have been dubbed in the Chinese press, appear to relate at least partly to activities after they left Mr Zhou’s service. In China a personal assistant to a high-ranking leader is often chosen by the leader himself—sometimes plucked from obscurity—and retains high rank even after his boss has moved to a different job (if he is not taken along to the new post).

There is plenty of scope for corruption as a mishu, because of the control the job gives over access to the leader. There is also great opportunity for acquiring independent power. Mr Zhou’s four former secretaries went on to take up high-ranking positions in government and state-owned business. Knowing the dark secrets of their former bosses gives ex-mishu a useful bargaining chip in acquiring plum jobs. The former bosses can benefit from placing their one-time confidants in positions they wish to influence.

via The Communist Party: The gatekeepers | The Economist.

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01/11/2013

China’s State Council think tank sets out roadmap for reform | South China Morning Post

A top government think tank has unveiled a detailed road map for a series of far-reaching economic policy changes, in one of the strongest indications yet that the Communist Party intends to stay on the path of reform.

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The recommendations by the State Council\’s Development Research Centre came ahead of the much-anticipated third plenum of the party\’s 18th Central Committee next month, a critical opportunity for President Xi Jinping to advance his economic and social reform agendas.

In addition, their release was accompanied by a prediction from Yu Zhengsheng – the No4 member of the party\’s supreme Politburo Standing Committee – that the annual gathering would result in \”unprecedented\” reforms.

The proposals span eight areas: finance, taxation, land, state assets, social welfare, innovation, foreign investment and clean governance, according to a copy of the 10,000-word report published over the weekend by China News Service. It recommends sensitive changes like breaking up state monopolies and speeding land reforms.

The source of the recommendations was as interesting as the details. Among its authors were the think tank\’s chief, Li Wei, who served as secretary to former premier Zhu Rongji, and Liu He, a top economic adviser to Xi.

Although the road map would be subject to behind-the-scenes horse-trading during the plenum, the document was clearly aimed at restricting the government\’s role in economic matters and allowing more freedom in the market. It sets a timetable for action extending to 2020.

The report recommends an ambitious plan to make the yuan a major international trade- settlement and invoicing currency within 10 years, as well as a reserve currency in \”regional markets\”.

It highlighted three projects key to advancing economic reform: relaxing control over market access, setting up a \”basic social security package\” for all residents and allowing sales of collectively owned rural land.

The national social security package would provide all citizens with a social security card to claim modest but equal pension, medical insurance and education subsidies.

Meanwhile, the unpopular hukou system – which for decades has discouraged migration by tying mainlanders\’ benefits to their registered place of residence – would be phased out.

The road map also proposes granting farmers the right to trade their collectively owned land under a unified open market in which urban and rural lands would be valued equally.

Currently farmers only have rights to use collectively owned land and receive meagre compensation when their land is claimed by local governments for development projects. The situation has emerged as a leading cause of social unrest.

The plan proposed fighting rampant official corruption by establishing a clean governance allowance, which officials could claim after retirement if they are found to have been honest during their careers. But some experts questioned the feasibility of the reform plans, given the many possible vested interests.

\”The top leadership may view it necessary to push for reforms, to things such as land rights and the social security system, but how the ideas will be received by the interest groups remains to be seen,\” said Professor Hu Xingdou , of the Beijing Institute of Technology.

Guan Qingyou, assistant dean at the Minsheng Securities Research Institute, cautioned that the road map was only one of several research reports submitted to the top leadership ahead of the party plenum.

via China’s State Council think tank sets out roadmap for reform | South China Morning Post.

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