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  • Dec 25, 2014
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PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 December, 2012, 10:01pm

Xi learns from Castro and Putin in graft fight

Curbs on extravagance afforded to top party chiefs appear to be inspired by a traffic measure in Russia and his 2011 visit to Cuba


Wang Xiangwei took up the role of Editor-in-Chief in February 2012, responsible for the editorial direction and newsroom operations. He started his 20-year career at the China Daily, before moving to the UK, where he gained valuable experience at a number of news organisations, including the BBC Chinese Service. In 1993, he moved to Hong Kong and worked at the Eastern Express before joining the South China Morning Post in 1996 as our China Business Reporter. He was subsequently promoted to China Editor in 2000 and Deputy Editor in 2007, a position he held for four years prior to being promoted to his current position. Mr. Wang has a Masters degree in Journalism, and a Bachelors degree in English.

Cuban president Raul Castro and Russian president Vladimir Putin may not have much in common, but Xi Jinping seems to take inspiration from them both.

This can be seen in the president-in-waiting's effective measures to curb extravagance and over-the-top protocol customarily accorded to senior mainland officials.

The moves are part of Xi's broad efforts to tackle corruption and restore confidence in the party.

Earlier this month, in the first Politburo meeting since he came to power as the party chief, the 20-odd Politburo members vowed to set an example by banning welcome banners, red carpets and floral arrangements.

They also simplified security details on their outings and inspection trips. The announcement has proved popular with mainlanders, who used to see the over-the-top protocol as a sign of extravagance and officials losing touch with the ordinary people.

Over the past few days, top military officials and the Beijing municipal government have released similar rules.

In a recent internal speech to explain the new working practices, Xi said he drew inspiration from his meetings with Raul Castro during his visit to Cuba in June last year, according to several people briefed about the speech.

During the visit, Xi was invited to a banquet at Raul Castro's residence. But the Chinese side was told in advance that only six of them could go.

This perplexed the Chinese officials, who were accustomed to enjoying elaborate banquets as part of a big entourage.

When Xi arrived, he found that Raul's residence was small and the dining room could accommodate only a small number of people.

He recalled that Raul showed him several small plots of land in his backyard where the Cuban president grew food for his family and gave what was left over to the ordinary people. That encounter appears to have left a deep impression on him.

It was little wonder, Xi reportedly said, that Cuba - as a socialist country - could survive so long under decades of harsh sanctions imposed by the United States, because the Cuban leaders still enjoyed strong support from the people.

In the same speech, Xi also cited the example of Putin, who has reportedly refused to divert traffic to make way for his motorcade around the Kremlin, one of the most notoriously congested areas in Russia.

Until Xi announced new measures, the traffic police usually cordoned off two lanes for the motorcades of the senior leaders who entered or left the Zhongnanhai compound, the party headquarters, worsening congestion in downtown Beijing.

He also blasted local officials for saying that because they needed to entertain high-ranking officials, they required government money to build luxury hotels. But really, they wanted to enjoy the luxury and extravagance themselves.

Xi also lamented that some local officials had wanted the government-funded hotels to include so-called presidential suites. But Xi said he and other senior leaders would not stay in these suites in the future.

In another telling episode, Xi also reportedly singled out a previous Politburo document on curbing official corruption issued in July 1989, a few weeks after the government's bloody crackdown on the massive student demonstrations where corruption was a key issue.

The late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping pushed for the release of the document, in which the Politburo announced measures to shut down several state companies run by the children of senior government officials, including one company run by Deng's eldest son, Deng Pufang.

Xi reportedly said he compared his new measures with Deng's document, which he said was even tougher on official corruption and extravagance. Indeed, one of Deng's measures was to ban the children of senior cadres from engaging in business activities, starting with the Politburo members.

But it goes without saying that this well-known measure advocated by Deng failed miserably as the children of senior cadres, known as princelings, simply ignored Deng's diktat and went on to build up commercial empires using the political connections of their parents.

That probably explains why Xi started more modestly.


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This article is now closed to comments

i think it would come as a shock to find out how much of that dirty money held by the princelings are holding hkg apartments
To bill.mclary.10.With all due respect, I am a Canadian like you. All the Cubans who travel "freely" are "trusted" people connected to the dictator Castro. It's a foregone conclusion how many Cubans athletes "disappear" each time they are out of the beloved motherland in the "really free" world.You are probably a white man thats blind to the despotic rulers and their iron grip on countries like China,Cuba,North Korea and etc. Peel the veneer back from the glamorous sky high towers and glistening high speed rail and what nots in China and you have a rot that makes fermented fish pale in comparison. Take that, eh !
bbanson...been to cuba???no ...well you speak as an american the cause of thier life...but take note they have an airline cuban air...so who is in the planes that fly all over the would except us,,, 2 flights weekly to canada and full with the cubans that you say cannot leave I just had cubans here for a visit....please read more travel more....
Another farcical joke. Taking a page from Castro and Putin, leaders of two of the most corrupt and oppressive regimes in the world ? Why would these two socialist heavens be empty of most of their citizens, if other country would allow Russians and Cubans to migrate there ? AS of today, numerous Cubans still brave the sharks and seas to escape the love of papa Castro. While ordinary Russians and Cubans live in penury, Putin and Castro, together with their cronies gorge on caviar and the finer things of life. If this what the great Chinese reformer hope can say about his mentors, pity for the great unwashed masses in China, along with us Hong Kong blokes, coz we too will be subject to The great leader Xi's joker mentors' malpractises, if not, already so.
A lot to do about nothing.


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