Millennium Post

Could Xi Jinping be China’s Gorbachev?

Xi Jinping, who will formally take over China’s presidency next month, has displayed a delightfully reformist bent of mind by declaring that the Communist Party of China (CPC) would be open to criticism from non-CPC parties and the global policy-makers. The CPC, which has been notoriously secretive and intolerant of outside criticism for over six decades now, would now have to adjust to the ideas of the new leading man, who has already drawn comparison with the erstwhile Soviet Union’s Mikhail Gorbachev -- the former USSR president known for perestroika and glasnost, that brought about substantial restructuring the Russian political economy and ushered in greater freedom of speech for all. By hinting towards a possibility of similar developments within China, Xi has taken a step in the right direction. Pervasive political, economic and structural reforms are essential for China to take the next giant leap and become a still more formidable player in the global affairs. But in order to achieve that, considerable changes within the party structure are urgently required, despite the slew of big reforms brought about since the 1980s under the aegis of former premiers Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao.

Xi’s tacit admission that the Communist Party of China, which has monopoly of power over the other eight permitted non-communist parties, must be more tolerant of criticism hints at a silver lining in the political horizon of this Asian giant. Being receptive to such views would certainly not weaken the party or the government, but rather would bolster them with more informed and well-thought out ideas that would in turn help create better policies. China must also rid itself of the ubiquitous problem of corruption that has recently created global headlines, and the scheme to make declaration of assets mandatory for office-bearers clearly looks like a good start. Xi’s frank openness towards hearing the truth, no matter how harsh or unpalatable it turns out to be, is indicative of an overall approach towards a more inclusive Chinese polity and a slow progression towards a kind of proto-democracy. The 59-year-old President elect has taken a bold and impressive stand on issues as corruption, freedom of speech, tolerance of viewpoints other than the CPC’s very own, thus paving the way for a new China that will be more acceptable to the international fraternity, which has been hitherto viewing its relentless rise rather suspiciously.
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