Advance or Retreat:
Xi Jinping Administration Bottlenecks
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
March 14, 2013
Summary: CCP General Secretary and CCP Central Military Commission Chairman Xi
Jinping took over as President and Chairman of the State Central
Military Commission today. This completed the handover of military
leadership on the Chinese mainland. Consider the road ahead. The current
handover must not result in Xi merely carrying out what Hu laid down.
If Xi fails to go beyond what Hu laid down, if he fails to break through
current bottlenecks, unfavorable developments could force the Mainland
to retreat instead of advance.
Full Text below:
CCP General Secretary and CCP Central Military Commission Chairman Xi Jinping took over as President and Chairman of the State Central Military Commission today. This completed the handover of military leadership on the Chinese mainland. Consider the road ahead. The current handover must not result in Xi merely carrying out what Hu laid down. If Xi fails to go beyond what Hu laid down, if he fails to break through current bottlenecks, unfavorable developments could force the Mainland to retreat instead of advance.
The Hu Jintao administration ruled for ten years. As we have pointed out, it made remarkable achievements in all aspects of goverance, internal and external. But it also ran headlong into a number of difficult bottlenecks. The Xi Jinping administration must now deal with these bottlenecks. If it fails to break through, it runs the risk of losing previously won ground.
The Xi Jinping team is taking over. Key indicators reveal its internal and external bottlenecks. 1. In health and welfare, it must deal with "qi shui nai fang" (氣水奶房). 2. In international relations, it must deal with North Korea's nuclear test and the Diaoyutai Islands conflict. 3. In cross-Strait relations, it must deal with the Lien-Xi Summit. 4. In political reform, it must deal with the Southern Weekly incident.
Health and welfare bottlenecks include qi, or smog; shui, or water pollution; nai, or toxic milk; and fang, or skyrocketing housing prices. These four bottlenecks are health and welfare issues. They reveal government ineptitude and failure. Smog and water pollution show that the eco-system unfit for either production or habitation. Toxic milk and oil pollution show that industry no longer has a conscience. Worse, under socialism the government is the sole landowner. If housing prices are out of control, the government must ask itself who is responsible. If air and drinking water quality cannot be assured, if social mores have degenerated, if the land belongs to the government, yet people cannot find housing, then they constitute problems far more serious than economic development.
International bottlenecks include North Korea's nuclear testing program and the Diaoyutai Islands conflict. North Korea, once Beijing's ace in the hole, has become a political albatross around its neck. The Diaoyutai Islands conflict undermines the low profile defensive posture adopted by the Mainland ever since Deng Xiaoping. It currently has the world's attention. How will the United States' anti-China "return to Asia" and "rebalancing" work out? Beijing's international plight can be described as "The tree hopes to remain still, but the wind insists on blowing." It is difficult for Beijing to defend its interests without unintentionally escalating tensions. But if it fails to defend its interests, it will turn itself into a doormat. If existing conflicts escalate, they could spin out of control. Therefore Beijing must return to "economic diplomacy." Mainland China is the world's factory and the world's market. Through frameworks such as the RCEP, it can stabilize the political and diplomatic situation. This is how Beijing must break through its bottlenecks.
The Lien-Xi Summit is a key indicator for cross-Strait relations. During the late February summit, Lien Chan championed "the establishment of a (yet to be reunified) balanced, equal, and effective political structure." He said "The division between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait since 1949 is an objective fact." He said "On the one hand the (two sides) have divided rule and mutual respect. On the other hand, they seek improved cooperation and a win-win situation." The Xi Jinping team heard Lien Chan's words. It knows that for the public on Taiwan, this is the cross-Strait bottom line. Lien Chan used the trip to respond to the Chinese Communist Party's 18th National Congress Political Report. The report referred to "exploring cross-Strait political relations under special circumstances in which the two sides have yet to be reunified," and "making fair and reasonable arrangements." It spoke of "establishing a balanced, equal, and effective political framework. " It pointed out the bottlenecks in cross-Strait relations. It offered recommendations on how to address the "special circumstances in which the two sides have yet to be reunified," and how to "make fair and reasonable arrangements." This is the Xi Jinping team's unshirkable historical duty. It can hardly revert to empty rhetoric about "One Country, Two Systems," and "peaceful reunification," can it?
Finally, consider political reform. A key indicator is the New Year's Day Special Edition of the "Southern Weekly." The Bo Xilai case will go to trial during the Xi Jinping administration's term of office. But this is merely the effect, not the cause. The effect is that Bo will be subject to sanctions. But the cause was the fact that "The party has long been above the constitution, the party has long been outside the constitution." Beijing feels that "[Mainland] China cannot copy the Western democratic model." But if "socialism with Chinese characteristics" puts the party above the constitution, and the party outside the constitution, no one will dare complain. Today, "socialism with Chinese characteristics" appears to have become "capitalism with four cardinal principles." If so, how can the nation's governance be just? How can the the party and government avoid corruption?
On New Year's Day, the Southern Weekly published a special article, entitled "Chinese Dream, Constitutional Dream." Censors changed the title to, "We are Closer than Ever to Our Dream." What truth were the censors struggling to evade? Why is it forbidden to talk about constitutionalism and dreams? During the 18th National Congress, Hu Jintao said, "The party must operate within constitutional and legal limits." Censors changed this to "People must conduct their activities under the protection of the constitution and the laws." Xi Jinping said, "The constitution comes alive when it is implemented. The authority of the constitution is exercised when it is implemented." But is this constitution living? Or has the constitution encountered a serious bottleneck during its implementation?
Beijing must realize that Liu Xiaobo and other pro-democracy and human rights activists are not alone in advocating "returning to the constitution," "constitutional limits on the party," and "constitutional protections for the people." The younger generation, like the Southern Weekly intellectuals and "petty bourgeoisie," also champion the "China Dream, Constitutional Dream." If the Xi Jinping team cannot break through this bottleneck, Mainland China's governance will retreat instead of advance.
2013.03.14 04:07 am