Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

Impressions of the Latest Chinese Communist Party Congress
TADOKORO Takehiko  / Trustee of Toho Gakuen

December 4, 2002
From time to time, I've used the following argument - a slightly simplistic one - to encourage university students: an individual should be evaluated based on face, brains and personality. It would be hopeless if you get to age fifty or sixty with bad marks in all three, but when you’re young it's possible to cultivate your brain and polish your personality, which should consequently improve your face somewhat. Applying this logic to Chinese politicians, my personal opinion has been that Chou En-Lai was one who more or less passed all three tests. I also felt that Hu Jintao, elected general secretary at the recent 16th Communist Party of China National Congress, seemed quite promising, after watching him deliver his inaugural speech on television. Of the nine new members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau, only Wen Jiabao - slated to become Prime Minister - left a favorable impression on me.

Of course it would take more than being nice to navigate the murky political waters. Jiang Zemin, who stepped down as general secretary, will stay on as chairman of the Central Military Commission, and is likely to continue pulling the strings from behind the curtain. After a decade at the top post, he is expected to ride the momentum and retain a decisive grip on foreign policy as well, promising a long spell of perseverance for Hu Jintao.

The Party Constitution was revised to include Jiang's 'Three Represents' concept. Under this concept, the Chinese Communist Party should be the representative of (1) the requirements for developing China's advanced production forces, (2) the direction of progress of China's advanced culture and (3) the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the Chinese people. There was some commentary in the Japanese mass media describing it as "signaling a transformation from a class party to a national party," or as "a new socialist experiment." However, not all reactions were as optimistic. As far as I could see, the most critical response came from Bao Tong, in an article titled "Caught Between Self-Negation and State of Pre-Birth," which was carried in the September issue of Hong Kong’s Chengming magazine.

By way of introduction, Bao Tong begins his reality check of the status quo by saying "the Three Represents idea hits a chord - all three appeal to the masses." According to his analysis, while the growing influence of the Chinese Communist Party was founded on the workers' movement, farmers' movement and student movement, today the relationship between the party and the masses has undergone drastic change, with several tens of millions unemployed and only a handful of nouveau riche making a fortune in the rural regions. Students advocating democracy and an end to corruption were bloodily suppressed on June 4, 1989. The 'Three Represents' are appropriate to the times because one can doubt socialism but not 'advanced production forces,' Marx-Leninism but not ‘advanced culture,’ and even if the communist party can no longer represent the workers, farmers and students, it can always represent something as abstract as 'the overwhelming majority of the Chinese people,' he writes.

The harshness of his comments may be attributable to the fact that Bao Tong was a policy aide to former-general secretary Zhao Ziyang and an anti-Establishment sympathizer who fell from power after the June 4 Incident. Nevertheless, its movement limited by corruption and authoritarianism, the world's largest ruling party is certainly faced with a severe environment. How long will the new leadership be able to maintain the balance of government on the back of a developing economy? Challenging days lie ahead.

The writer is a Trustee of Toho Gakuen and former Beijing Bureau Chief of the Asahi Newspaper.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

田所竹彦 / 桐朋学園理事

2002年 12月 4日





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English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > Impressions of the Latest Chinese Communist Party Congress