Echoes of Deng Xiaoping as Xi Jinping heads to Shenzhen on first inspection trip
New party boss evokes memories of ex-leader's 1992 tour and issues a signal of his commitment to change by heading to Shenzhen on first trip
Fiona Tam and He Huifeng
Xi Jinping has decided Shenzhen will be the venue for his first inspection trip as the party's new general secretary.
It is a move political observers say pays tribute to the famous southern tour of Deng Xiaoping in 1992 and sends a signal of commitment to deepening reform.
A Shenzhen propaganda official said Xi, who will succeed Hu Jintao as president in March, would follow in the footsteps of Deng's tour to "express his determination to further deepen China's reform".
Xi is due to visit the Yunong fishing village in Luohu, the Qianhai experimental zone and export factories in Shekou today, before heading to Zhuhai and Guangzhou.
Guangdong and Shenzhen party bosses, busy preparing for Xi's visit, cancelled a scheduled interview with a group of Hong Kong reporters yesterday.
Former National People's Congress deputy Ng Hong-man said Xi chose Shenzhen for his first tour to pay tribute to Deng and his reformist father Xi Zhongxun's commitment to reform and opening up.
Deng gave Xi's father the task of setting up experimental zones for economic reforms in 1979.
There was no noticeable tightening up of security in Yunong yesterday, nor any signs of extravagant preparations for a VIP visit, although villagers were told to prepare for a family visit by "an important leader".
The Qianhai experimental zone cancelled the media tour for Hong Kong reporters that was scheduled for today, without giving a reason. The party's 25-member Politburo banned fawning, over-the-top, red-carpet welcoming ceremonies for top leaders on Tuesday and political observers expect Xi's first inspection trip to be a low-profile affair.
"Xi has the courage to reform … and further reforms are also good for Hong Kong's stability," Ng said. "However, China is facing many urgent issues, especially as the conservatives and the vested interests are very powerful. Even though Xi wants to deepen reforms, he could face many difficulties."
Zhang Lifan, a political analyst formerly with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Xi was trying to demonstrate he was a legitimate successor to the spirit of reform advocated by Deng and his father.
"Hu Jintao chose Xibaipo as the destination of his first trip, the red headquarters of the Communist Party and the People's Liberation Army in the late 1940s before the communists came to power," Zhang said.
"New leaders always want to emphasise and connect themselves with some glorious image from the past. But I don't think Shenzhen and Guangdong have done a good job in terms of reform in recent years."
In the three weeks since he assumed the party's helm, Xi has been trying to present a reformist image, including banning empty talk by officials and excessive pomp for tours. He has also cut back on the use of party jargon when giving public speeches.