Pres­i­dent Xi’s cru­cial his­tor­i­cal mis­sions

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

About two years after Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping took of­fice, his style of gov­ern­ing the coun­try has be­come clear enough to be sum­ma­rized.

Con­stant strong pres­sure to com­bat cor­rup­tion is doubtlessly the first and most im­por­tant char­ac­ter­is­tic. There was a point when peo­ple were be­com­ing des­per­ate about the ram­pant cor­rup­tion and lux­u­ri­ous spend­ing of of­fi­cials, but Xi has achieved ini­tial suc­cess in curb­ing th­ese ills.

In­ter­ac­tion with or­di­nary peo­ple and the pro­mo­tion of so­cial jus­tice are also char­ac­ter­is­tic of his lead­er­ship. Dur­ing his in­spec­tion tours, Xi al­ways sends the sig­nal that he stands with the peo­ple, and his main moves have been in re­sponse to the calls of the peo­ple to cor­rect any wrong that has dis­torted jus­tice.

Another es­sen­tial fea­ture of his lead­er­ship is in­de­pen­dence. Nei­ther copying from theWest nor sim­ply con­tin­u­ing on the ex­ist­ing path, Xi has grabbed the world’s at­ten­tion with the con­cept of the Chi­nese Dream, which has its own char­ac­ter­is­tics. The term is al­ready be­ing used as the theme for his po­lit­i­cal the­ory.

Xi has em­braced a strong style of lead­er­ship be­cause he knows the his­tor­i­cal mis­sions he faces dur­ing his time in of­fice. The past decades of de­vel­op­ment have made China closer to be­ing pros­per­ous, but the un­cor­rected and ac­cu­mu­lated mis­takes have ru­ined some ba­sic pil­lars of support that need to be res­ur­rected.

The fact that the Com­mu­nist Party of China’s le­git­i­macy to gov­ern needs re­pair­ing due to dam­age in­flicted by cor­rup­tion has been hid­den be­hind fast growth. Po­lit­i­cal le­git­i­macy in China comes from the con­sent of the gov­erned; an ad­min­is­tra­tion with­out popular support might rule by force, but its gov­er­nance will be nei­ther sta­ble nor lon­glast­ing. The Party needs to re­gain the peo­ple’s trust and rally their support.

The po­lit­i­cal cul­ture, which is almost cor­rupt from the root in some sec­tors, must be to­tally cleansed. The as­ton­ish­ing num­ber of cor­rupt of­fi­cials and the in­cred­i­ble amounts of money they have amassed show how se­ri­ous cor­rup­tion has been, even un­der the high anti-graft pres­sure.

It should also be noted that cor­rup­tion has al­ready harmed so­cial or­der in the coun­try, re­sult­ing in chaos and gen­eral moral de­cline. Only a clean gov­ern­ment can re­verse the trend.

China is proud of be­ing a 5,000year-old civ­i­liza­tion, but the fail­ure in gov­er­nance has al­ready ru­ined many of its tra­di­tional val­ues. The top lead­er­ship, hav­ing re­al­ized the de­struc­tive ef­fects, is at­tempt­ing to con­struct China’s mod­ern val­ues.

In his re­form plan, Xi de­clared the mar­ket would play the de­ci­sive role in al­lo­cat­ing re­sources and that rule of lawwill be up­held, thus The au­thor is vice-pres­i­dent of the China So­ci­ety of Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­form, an in­de­pen­dent Bei­jing­based think tank. de­ter­min­ing the de­vel­op­ment mode of China. A mar­ket econ­omy with rule of law— that’s the di­rec­tion for China’s re­form in the near and long term.

Th­ese prin­ci­ples are based on the ac­tual con­di­tions of China, which has not only grown from be­ing one of the poor­est na­tions in the world into the sec­ond-largest econ­omy within 35 years, but also ac­cu­mu­lated enough risks to ruin it­self within a much shorter time frame.

The root cause of the risks lies in the coun­try’s un­healthy mode of de­vel­op­ment: re­ly­ing on cheap la­bor and low so­cial wel­fare to boost eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, and strength­en­ing the bu­reau­cratic sys­tem to main­tain so­cial sta­bil­ity. As a re­sult, the coun­try faces one of the widest so­cial wealth gaps in the world and wide­spread com­plaints against the au­thor­i­ties and the rich.

The past process has re­sulted in grad­ual wan­ing of peo­ple’s trust in the au­thor­i­ties, as the au­thor­i­ties al­ways tend to de­fend in­ter­est groups, of which they are also one. Never has the trust cri­sis been so ev­i­dent since the found­ing of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic in 1949.

Th­ese prob­lems and risks used to be cov­ered up by the coun­try’s dou­ble-digit GDP growth. How­ever, as the de­mo­graphic div­i­dend de­clines and the past mode of de­vel­op­ment is no longer sus­tain­able, all th­ese is­sues have been ex­posed.

It was amid all th­ese crises that Xi and his team as­sumed the top lead­er­ship and started the newround of re­form, which needs to solve the prob­lems with­out caus­ing any ma­jor so­cial up­heaval. Whether it will suc­ceed de­pends pri­mar­ily on whether the lead­er­ship can de­feat the re­sis­tance of in­ter­est groups and avoid mis­takes that might lead to it be­ing over­thrown.

The in­ter­est groups in­clude cor­rupt of­fi­cials and cer­tain gov­ern­ment agen­cies that fear their pow­ers are be­ing cur­tailed by the re­forms. The top lead­er­ship has shown its de­ter­mi­na­tion to pro­pel re­form de­spite their op­po­si­tion.

Fa­tal mis­takes are pos­si­ble be­cause the re­forms are be­ing pro­pelled by means of the au­thor­i­tar­ian re­sources of the Party, and any mis­take might be mag­ni­fied through the sys­tem. That will be es­pe­cially dan­ger­ous in a pe­riod when peo­ple are mak­ing calls for democ­racy and free­dom.

Howto main­tain the sit­u­a­tion while pro­pel­ling the re­form will be a se­vere test for the top lead­er­ship’s po­lit­i­cal wis­dom.

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