China.2006.Social.Development

China.2006.Social.Development - CHINA IN 2006 Focus on...

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32 Asian Survey , Vol. 47, Issue 1, pp. 32–43, ISSN 0004-4687, electronic ISSN 1533-838X. © 2007 by The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permis- sion to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press’s Rights and Permissions website, at . DOI: AS.2007.47.1.32. Tony Saich is Daewoo Professor of International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. CHINA IN 2006 Focus on Social Development Tony Saich Abstract The leadership’s policies came under attack from left and right, but they con- solidated power at the Sixth Plenum, a meeting remarkable for its attention to social development. The leadership tried to deal with the twin problems of corruption and social inequality. Relations with Japan and North Korea under- went surprising evolution. Keywords: China, corruption, social unrest, North Korea, Japan Having effectively consolidated his power during 2005, Secretary-General Hu Jintao was able to look to the future and put into effect his policy preferences and begin to pave the ground for the Seventeenth Party Congress (2007). During 2006, Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao reestablished their credentials as champions of those who have not fared so well from reforms— but not all went smoothly. Treading the tightrope of reform, they were buffeted by attacks from both the left and the right. Hu and Wen identified two key challenges to the party’s continued rule. First, they have been alarmed by the corruption that appears endemic in the political system and reaches up into the senior party leadership. This problem was identified at the start of the reform era by former senior leader Chen Yun as a matter of “life and death for the party.” Since then all of China’s leaders have stressed the importance of combating corruption, while objective indica- tors indicate that it has only grown worse. Like their predecessors, Hu and Wen have railed against corruption and arrested senior officials, but many will wait and see whether the campaign is real and will last longer than previous
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CHINA IN 2006 33 attempts or whether the actual objective is to consolidate their own political power. Second, they focused on the rising inequality in China as a potential threat to stability and speeded up the introduction of measures to improve the lot of those who have remained in the countryside, as well as those who have moved to the cities in search of a better life. Political Developments: Redefining and Defending Reform The rhetoric used by Hu, his insistence on strengthening the study of Marxism combined with the stress on helping the disadvantaged, left him vulnerable to criticism from both the old and new left. The “old left” saw this as an opportu- nity to attack market-based reforms, while the “new left” seized on market failures to criticize the reforms and put forward the need for stronger state in- tervention in certain areas. One former vice president of the Chinese Academy
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  • Spring '08
  • zhang
  • Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao, Communist Party of China, Wen Jiabao

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