New characteristics of CPC's leadership transition

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, November 12, 2012
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More than 2,200 delegates to the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) began on Sunday to deliberate a proposed name-list of nominees for the candidates for the Party's new leadership.

Within days, they will elect members and alternate members of the 18th CPC Central Committee, the leading body of the world's largest ruling party.

China's leadership transition, which began last year from township level, will surely determine the future of the world's second largest economy, and influence the world.

A new standing committee of the CPC Beijing municipal committee was elected on July 3, marking the completion of the leadership change at the provincial level.

Since the beginning of the year, main leaders of some central departments and centrally-administered enterprises have been replaced. The seventh plenum of the 17th CPC Central Committee early this month appointed two vice chairmen of the CPC Central Military Commission.

The local leadership transition and central-level reshuffle are preparations for the leadership transition at the 18th Party congress, Dai Yanjun, a scholar on Party building with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, said.

From central to local levels, the new army of CPC officials bear the distinctive characteristics and personal styles and they are to lead China's new round of reform and development, said Dai.

Growing up under red flag

Among the delegates to the 18th Party congress, a number of CPC officials born in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, were under the spotlight.

Dai said they grew up in a totally different historic and social environment from their predecessors, which will, to a great extent, lead to a different administration concept and approach.

Unlike the founding fathers of the People's Republic of China and previous generations of leading officials who grew up in wartime, the new leadership, mostly born around the founding of New China, grew up in peacetime.

This allowed them to have a complete and systematic education of the mainstream socialist ideology, and shaped their worldview and value orientation.

In their youth, they underwent severe tests during the Great Leap Forward in 1958 and "three years of natural disasters" (1959-1961). The turbulent Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) was a hard time for them. Some, in their teens, were forced to live and work in the poorest villages after their parents were persecuted.

"In short, they all went through starvation and had the experience of working hard in rural areas," said Dai. "They are victims of the Cultural Revolution. They witnessed the ups and downs of China's development and the success of the national rejuvenation. They are firm supporters of reform and opening up."

The leading officials born after 1950 and with experiences as "educated youth" are an idealistic and realistic group. They are closely watched by foreigners who are looking into China's future, said Cheng Li, director of research and a senior fellow at the John L. Thornton China Center of the Brookings Institution.

Full understanding of national conditions

Elites have become the backbone of the CPC and the country. The people elected into the top leadership at the 18th Party congress will showcase the Party's governing ideals and value orientation in the future, said Dai.

A notable feature of the leading officials born after the founding of New China, no matter what families they are from, is that they all have grassroots working experiences. They had worked with ordinary farmers, workers and soldiers, and been promoted step by step.

Such experiences are valuable, said Dai. This gives them a full understanding of the society and country, so that they will address state issues from the viewpoint of common people and focus more on improving people's livelihood.

Chinese leader Hu Jintao said, at the 90th founding anniversary of the CPC last year, that alienation from the people poses the greatest risk to the Party after it has gained political power.

At the ongoing Party congress, Hu stressed efforts to "put people first, exercise governance for the people and always maintain close ties with them."

China is undergoing rapid social transformation and many thorny problems emerged first at grassroots levels.

The leading officials were working at grassroots levels when China launched the reform and opening-up drive and profound changes took place in social interests and structure, Dai said.

They met with and handled quite a lot of new problems, Dai said. "Such working experiences enable them to know what the people need most. This is an ability that cannot be learned from books and also their big advantage."

Professional background and international vision

Another feature of the leading officials is that they have abundant learning experiences and a sound professional background.

Many of them went to the best colleges in China after the end of the Cultural Revolution, and some others took in-service educational programs and managed to acquire master and doctorate degrees. Well-educated officials are nowadays common in central and local authorities.

With the academic degrees and professional background, they meet better the requirements of the current economic and social development, Dai said.

A feature of their academic backgrounds is that more people studied humanities and social science, and some of them majored in political science, law and management, giving them confidence in pushing forward reform in all respects, Cheng Li said.

Unlike the previous generations who studied in the Soviet Union, many of the leading officials were sent or chose to study in the United States and developed European countries, gaining a broad international vision.

Xie Chuntao, a professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, said that the leading officials are not rigid or conservative, and they will guarantee the adherence to reform and opening up and the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

"They participated in, witnessed and benefitted from reform and opening up, and know what was it like before, so none of them will look back," said Xie.

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