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English>>China Politics

Man of the people makes little fuss on first official visit (3)

(China Daily)

09:01, December 10, 2012

Newly built apartment blocks in the Qianhai Experimental Zone. [Photo/PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY]

Feudal thought

The new style may not seem a weighty issue at first glance, but all these outmoded practices have shaped the image of the Party and the government and decided the fate of the Party to certain extent, Zhen noted.

During the Chinese civil war, the Party's relationship with the people was much closer. The CPC has been the ruling party for more than 60 years and formality and bureaucracy have grown within it, thus estranging many officials from the public, she said.

"In theory, there is a likelihood that any ruling party can lose power. To avoid that possibility becoming a reality, the Party should win the trust and support of the people. And this is absolutely a good move," Zhen said.

The change is also much needed, as the Party is being transformed into a more modern and democratic body, she added

"The extravagant receptions and road closures are de facto privileges; the autographs and collected published works have a lot to do with the cult of personality," she said.

"Both can be seen as remnants of feudal thought, which has such a long history in China and takes a long time to eradicate."

The CPC rejected overt formality and bureaucracy long ago. In 1942, Chairman Mao Zedong initiated the Rectification — or zhengfeng — Movement, within the Party, focusing on political and ideological self-education for ideological reconstruction.

The movement required Party officials to reject the rigid, stereotypical writing style and to adopt a fresh method to better promote revolutionary development.

Decades later, however, officials continue to deliver seemingly endless speeches at formal meetings and ceremonies.

"If you read official speeches, government work reports, the minutes of meetings and reports in some newspapers, you see a lot of cliches," said Bi Yantao, director of the Center for Communication Studies at Hainan University.

"People brag about their determination and high moral sense, but that is not necessarily how they behave," he said.

"I don't believe anyone really enjoys reading this stuff. But it is an example set by the government and everyone in society, including teachers and students, is influenced by it."

In 2010, Xi emphasized the need for officials to improve their methods of speaking and writing and to make their documents and speeches concise, concrete and fresh. He also advocated independent thought in the Party and a more relaxed environment that would allow officials to speak in a more straightforward manner.

Having previously highlighted these problems, Xi recently sent out a warning to Party members: "Empty talk leads a country astray, while hard work will make it thrive", he said during a visit to an exhibition on China's travails on the path to national revival.

Image enhancement

"As always, the new leaders have sent out a strong signal of their leadership and working style upon taking office. It will help them to build a good image and is good branding," Bi said.

"It is a really positive note that the new central leadership is facing these issues directly. But the long-term effects still remain to be seen. It requires more specific regulation at all levels, as well as monitoring from the public."

The punishments for violating the rules should also be on public record to insure full compliance, said Zhen.

Public opinion seems to concur.

"The release of the new measures didn't surprise me. As the old proverb says, ‘A new broom sweeps cleaner'," said Fu Rao, who works for a multinational company in Dalian, Liaoning province.

Even newly promoted leaders at lower levels or student monitors take some action to display their abilities — so should the new central government, she said.

"I will keep an eye on official changes from now on to see whether the local officials are following the new rules closely."

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