It's been a year of political transition. For President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, their first year in office has been one of sweeping reforms and daunting challenges. In almost every line of work, they have left their mark and unfold their policies that would change the country.
New leadership, new vision: Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang instill spirit of change. (Xinhua)
A once-in-a-decade change of guard at the top. Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang took over a country full of promise, but ridden with problems. The biggest challenge is from within the party, and that is where they began, a trip to the past. The central leadership paid tributes to the nation’s founders at the National Museum. It is here that Xi Jinping announced his vision.
"One's fate is determined by his choice of path. Our choice is to revitalize the Chinese nation, that is our China Dream." Xi said.
The dream asks for a change of style, which is simplicity. Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang launched a campaign against extravagance and waste. They reduced red tape, limited the use of government cars and allowed no banquets, no mooncakes and not a even a gift card on the government’s bill. The move was quick and unexpected.
The top leaders led by example to make change happen. They showed up at the grassroots and made decisions. Losing touch with the base is the last thing the CPC needs in a time of reform. By talking to ministers and governors, they asked them to do some soul searching and self criticism. Corrupt officials were brought down on a unprecedented scale. According to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC Central Committee, 18 minister-level officials were sacked this year. And in December alone, every day saw a corrupt official being investigated. The message from Xi Jinping and Li Keqing is clear: when they said they would deal with corrupt tigers, they meant it.
But the change of substance is more difficult. The top priority is to steer the country’s economy away from its reliance on exports and investment. But the key is the redefinition of government.
"The government must be slimmer. It feels like cutting yourself. It hurts. But it is what the people want and the country needs." Li said.
In order to do that, the government needs to step back and let the market step up. But that means they will have to challenge entrenched interest groups head on. They need a game changer moment. In December, the CPC held a plenum in Beijing to map out the reforms for the next decade.
Indeed, big changes are taking hold. Government is now more hands-off in economic fields. Big state-owned enterprises are facing harsher competition. China’s one-child policy was eased and the re-education through labour system scrapped. And those are just the beginning of sweeping social and economic transformations.
Reporter: "Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang will be at the helm of the country for the next 10 years, that gives them the chance to think big. The reforms on their mind are challenging and painful, and the risks are high, but deep down, they understand, the costs of inaction will be even higher."