Xi Jinping

Communist Party changes style in effort to win back 'lost trust'

Party leadership revamps image in attempt to connect with the people amid mass discontent

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 December, 2012, 3:45am

The Communist Party's new leadership is certainly wielding a new broom when it comes to revamping the working style of top officials.

Just over a fortnight after they assumed control of the world's largest political party, general secretary Xi Jinping , Politburo Standing Committee No 2 Li Keqiang and party discipline chief Wang Qishan have revealed a style in stark contrast to that of their predecessors.

They have abandoned old customs, refusing to read from prepared scripts when giving public speeches, and have encouraged officials in meetings they have chaired to do the same. They have also tried to use the language of the common people, throwing out the jargon and ideological verbiage of the party's fourth-generation leadership, headed by President Hu Jintao .

They also appear more confident, relaxed and easy-going than their predecessors.

Xi, the president-in-waiting, delivered two nationally televised speeches - carried by state broadcaster CCTV - without using notes. He also exhorted party members to refrain from empty talk and focus on the practical.

In internal party meetings, both Li and Wang told participants not to read from prepared scripts.

In chairing a seminar on fighting graft last Friday, Wang stopped speakers when they began their speeches by addressing him as "respected secretary Wang".

Analysts said it reflected a changing political environment on the mainland, with the leadership desperate to gain people's trust amid widespread discontent due to worsening corruption and social injustice, and a widening wealth gap.

"The new style of the leaders is to accommodate the rapid changes in society, in which people's distrust of the government, their sense of democracy and their demands on the government are all increasing," said Professor Ma Guoxian , a political affairs analyst at Shanghai University.

Ma said Xi's frequent use of the word "people" in his speeches and his efforts to use the language of the common people were attempts to win public support for the government.

Professor Liu Kang, from the department of Asian and Middle Eastern studies at Duke University in the United States, said the new leadership was trying to repair the party's image following a series of political scandals involving top officials, particular the one involving former Chongqing party boss Bo Xiali .

He said the party's image had never been at a lower ebb.

Political analyst Zhang Lifan , formerly with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the new leadership was trying to close the widening gap between the government and its people.

"They need the public's support, as they are faced with unprecedented changes," Zhang said.

However, analysts also said they had not seen any clear signs suggesting that the substance of the new leadership would be significantly different.

"Now we can see their style is definitely different, but we still have to see if the substance has changed," Ma said.