18th Party Congress
The Chinese Communist Party's 18th Congress, held in Beijing November 8-14, 2012, marked a key power transition in China. A new generation of leaders, headed by Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, took over from the previous leadership headed by Hu Jintao. The Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee was reduced in number from nine to seven. Unlike his predecessor Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao handed over both the Party General Secretary and Chairman of the Central Military Commission positions to Xi.
Leading liberal Hu Deping in call for party reform
Hu Deping's outburst against the party's unchecked power seen as a bid to catch ear of leaders as they gather for changing of the guard
Leading liberal Hu Deping has called for reform and for policies that better conform to the country's constitution.
The statement by Hu, son of the late Communist Party general secretary Hu Yaobang, was published by the weekly Economic Observer yesterday, days ahead of the party's once-in-a-decade power change at its 18th national congress.
At the meeting, Xi Jinping will succeed Hu Jintao as party general secretary and as such will head a new line-up on the Politburo Standing Committee, the nation's top decision-making body.
Hu Deping said the new party leaders must face two pressing issues: pursuing political and economic reforms and restoring the role of the constitution as the basis of government in the country.
"Reforms should not be abandoned and promises should not be dumped," wrote Hu Deping, 69.
The line appeared to be a reference to reforms by party leaders in the past decades and a veiled criticism that political reforms have been stalled since the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989.
Hu Deping, who wrote in his capacity as a member of the standing committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, also lashed out at the party's unchecked power, which he said resulted in rampant political interference in the judicial system and violation of civil rights.
"It is an objective fact that the power of the party and the government is interfering with the judicial [system] and many current laws and regulations are not in compliance with the spirit and requirements of the constitution," he wrote. "Many rights stipulated by the constitution have not been protected by statue laws.
"In the areas of politics, economics, society and culture, there are many incidents of disrespect or infringements of the civil rights stipulated in the constitution. In some cases the violations are serious."
Hu also cited the monopolies of state enterprises as "a key problem" to be resolved by the new leaders. Many liberal scholars have criticised the growing dominance of state enterprises during the 10-year rule of Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao as backtracking from the economic reforms launched under by the late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping .
Beijing-based political scientist Zhang Lifan said Hu Deping was hoping to send a message to incoming leaders by publishing the article at such a critical time. It has been reported that Xi met Hu Deping several months ago.
Zhang said Hu Deping was picking up the unfinished agendas of his father and the latter's successor as general secretary, Zhao Ziyang , who was purged after the 1989 crackdown. But any attempt at reform would face stiff resistance because it would target vested interests.
"Severing the party and the government were stipulated in the 13th party congress report [under Zhao] and the party charter," Zhang said. "But many pretended they did not know that."