SUBJECT: China's new rulers and the China poodles

       In the last few days the world watched an extra-ordinary once-in-a decade spectacle in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Chnina. This was the changing of the guard when power passes from one handful of autocrats to another. While this event was as peaceful as the quadrennial Presidential election in the US there is a vast difference between the two. In China neither the billion strong people, nor the thousand strong members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has anything to do with the change over. Everything is determined behind closed doors by the outgoing regime and the spectacle is merely to deceive the people of China that they had something to do with what happened. On the flower decked and red-carpeted stage sat the serried ranks of Communist subordinates, all attired in impeccable Western attrire (which is the only similarity that they had with the West) whose only activity was to put up their hands in unanimous agreement as every previously made decision was read out!

       While most of the world looked at this with some amusement, and to find out who the new rulers for the next ten years would be, there was a small group of China poodles who took everything in dead seriousness. Most of these poodles came from Sri Lanka where "acting the poodle" had been made into a fine art. Most of these poodles had spent a good part of the past decade praising the rule of President Hu-Jintao, the outgoing President and General Secretary of the CCP.  So they were keen to find out who their new patrons would be. The following news report by Tom Lasseter was written before the final line-up of the new "Politburo" was known but most of what it speculated actually happened.  As Lasseter predicted the new Politburo walked in as the final act of the session "wearing uniformly dark suits, tepid smiles and dyed black hair".  They were led by Xi Jinping who will be anointed President with Li Keqiang as Premier.  It isinterstging to note that nepotism has not been absent int eh choiceof the new team. The teacam leader is the scion of one of the sirst generation leaders, and has been called a "princeling".  This must agoin be familar to the local China poodles fromm local experience.

       One surprise was that the size of the Standing Committee which will rule China for the next 10 years has been cut down from the present 9 to 7.  This might appear strange to the SL China poodles who are used to cabinets exceeding 100 at home, but they will accept it without murmur. What it shows is the growing concentaion of power in fewer and fewer hands.  They will serve the current Gang of Seven as loyally as they had done to their predecessors. The names of the other five will not matter much as they will remain faceless as they have been. It is not the Chinese habit to give prominence to anyone other than  top two, something they learned from the disgraced Bo Xilai who now languishes in prison.

       One thing that the Bo affair highlighted was corruption in the top elite. Corruption was referred in their speeches by both the departing Hu and the incoming Xi. This frank admission gives the lie to what the SL China poodles have been saying for long. Not that these poodles are unaware of this phenomenon from its widespread usage at home. But they know that the word 'corruption' rarely escapes the lips of their local leaders. But both Hu and Xi have acknowledged it in their speeches as a major problem facing the Party. In fact it was the only problem that they highlighted even though other problems exist and are not unknown to them. However it can safely be said that given the nature of the Chinese system this matter of corruption cannot be eliminated in the coming decade or for that matter ever so long secrecy is the hallmark of the system.

       There is no doubt that the decade under Hu's leadership has been economically good for China. But the question is whether this will hold for the next decade under Xi. This may not be so. The success under Hu resulted from the ability to virtually convert the entire Chinese labour force into a virtual slave army with no worker rights, and workers forced to work long hours, sometimes under dangerous conditions. The fruits of their labour were exported mainly to Western countries generating large surpluses to the State which was used in neo-colonial ventures in poor countries especially in Africa. The aim was to secure resources from these countries to feed the Chinese production machine. Meanwhile in the colonial hinterland of Tibet the meagre resources there was exhausted there in a colonial repression since the time of the Congo under Belgian colonialism.

       These are not likely to continue in the next decade. Already there is increasing labour unrest in China itself. It will become more difficult to export to the West as these countries are aware of job losses under the previous trade regime. It will be difficult to continue the neo-colonial relationship with poor countries except those which for domestic reasons are prepared to accept vassalage to China. The demand for freedom and democracy will become more acute, The burgeoning, urbanizing and ageing population will pose new challenges. increase. The US is already posing military and diplomatic challenges which will be expensive to counteract.  The combination of all these factors may even trigger an internal implosion that brought Soviet communism to an end in the USSR.


China's new leaders keep intentions under wraps

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 5A
BEIJING: If all goes according to plan, in about two weeks a small, secretive group comprising some of the world's most powerful leaders will walk across a red carpet in downtown Beijing. The members of the Chinese Communist Party's new politburo standing committee almost certainly will make their first public group appearance lined up and wearing uniformly dark suits, tepid smiles and dyed black hair.

As the apex of power in the globe's second-largest economy, the committee's decisions will affect not only the region but also much of the planet. Yet despite much informed analysis in the run-up to the once-a-decade transition in top national leadership, the long-term intentions of the cloistered Communist Party leaders are anyone's guess. The unveiling of China's new rulers will be a reminder that nowhere else today is so much geopolitical strength combined with such thick secrecy.

Not even the size of the committee is certain. It will be either seven or nine members, depending on backroom negotiations thought to be still ongoing. Only two so far appear confirmed: Vice President Xi Jinping, 59, will be presented to the West as China's incoming president, though his mightier title will be general secretary of the Communist Party; now-Vice Premier Li Keqiang, 57, will join him as premier.

The other members are expected to be revealed after a weeklong assembly that begins Thursday, known officially as the 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. The standing committee will confront a daunting list of challenges, including:

? Corruption, which is viewed as having run rampant throughout the ranks of officialdom.

? A growing gap between the country's privileged elite and its vast population, which leads to deeply rooted resentment.

? Increasing worries about the possibility of a slowdown in the nation's economy that could cut into employment. For a regime intensely preoccupied with social stability, that could spell trouble.

? Staggering environmental woes, which have been emphasized by large-scale demonstrations this year against chemical plants in local communities.

It's far from clear that the leadership will push in major new directions, notwithstanding the festering issues.

The standing committee rules by consensus, and Xi will have a hard time steering party power sharply on those or other issues. As with the other potential committee members, Xi has spent much of his life in the ranks of the Communist Party, an organization made nervous by its own historical turmoil about change that's too big or too sudden.

"There is nothing in Xi's background to suggest that thinking deeply about or experimenting with political reform has been a priority," Elizabeth Economy, the director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, wrote in an email. "Throughout his career, he seems to have been far more focused on developing the economy in a smart and rational manner."

If there is to be transformation, many observers feel it will come in the economic sphere. The entrenched power of large state-owned enterprises is widely seen as having stifled moves to diversify the economy. Breaking up their monopolies would be difficult, however, and it's not clear to what extent the enterprises' interests are intertwined with those of senior officials or members of their inner circles.

Xi is considered a possible reformer, but so was President Hu Jintao when he came into office. After a decade of the Hu administration, however, that characterization seems misguided, with domestic repression and corruption rife. Whether the same will be true for Xi remains unknown.

Many analysts point to a disconnect between what Western ears hear when Chinese leadership speaks about "reform" and what is actually meant.

"Any reformers in the Chinese context, they are not going to introduce multiparty elections. They are not going to legalize opposition parties," said Wang Zhengxu, the deputy director of the China Policy Institute at England's University of Nottingham. "But if you talk about reformers who are willing to try local elections, who are willing to give more freedom to civil society groups, who are willing to enforce the rules to force ? officials to be more accountable, you may be able to find a few."

Wang, speaking by phone, added, "Their objectives are to make the government work better, not to reduce the monopoly of power of the party."