Xi Jinping

Party paper invokes Xi's father while lauding reform

One party paper praises economic reforms of previous generations and another criticises capitalism as leaders huddle for policy talks

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 August, 2013, 5:31am

Party-run newspapers ratcheted up the debate over the country's future yesterday, with one arguing China was not capitalist and another invoking the name of President Xi Jinping's father to promote reform.

The swelling factional conflict came as leaders gathered for their annual summer summit at Beidaihe, east of Beijing, where they were to discuss domestic issues ahead of formal party meetings in the autumn.

China's world-famous achievements in economic and social development since … the reform and opening-up era suggested the current system of socialism with Chinese characteristics fits the country's basic national condition

Over the past month, state media have carried a series of tit-for-tat commentaries by reformists who argue that free market capitalism and rule of law was key to China's continued success, and conservatives who attribute the nation's achievements to socialism and one-party rule.

The salvos continued yesterday, with the People's Daily carrying an article by Guangdong party school professor Zheng Zhiguo, who said China was not a capitalist country, despite bearing many similarities with one.

"There is an essential distinction between the socialist and capitalist systems, although they share some similarities," he said. "China's world-famous achievements in economic and social development since … the reform and opening-up era suggested the current system of socialism with Chinese characteristics fits the country's basic national condition."

The socialist system "sails with the tide and provides a basic guarantee of China's development and advancement in modern times", Zheng said.

The commentary hit out at those who advocated a Western-style political system, saying that they "often wrongly attributed China's recent success to the introduction of [certain aspects of] capitalism and China's existing problems to its adherence to socialism".

Meanwhile, the Nanfang Daily, an organ of Guangdong's party committee, praised the reform initiatives of the late 1970s and early '80s, advocated by Xi's father, Xi Zhongxun, and carried out by Deng Xiaoping .

The elder Xi was party chief of Guangdong from April 1978 to November 1980, a critical stage for China as it began testing market reforms and implementing its opening-up policy. He was said to have taken the initiative to set up the first three special economic zones - in Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Shantou .

The article also praised the elder Xi's work in rehabilitating family members of Peng Pai , a peasants' rights leader killed on the orders of Chiang Kai-shek in 1929. Peng's relatives were denounced and suffered greatly during the Cultural Revolution.

Analysts said the ideological debate reflected a deep division within the party.

"It reflects the increasing concern of both reformist and conservative officials ahead of a series of important high-level meetings," said Zhang Lifan , a political affair analyst formerly with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Chen Zeming , a political affairs analyst, said that while the articles might reflect the views of certain leaders, the campaign would not have any significant impact on decision-making at the summit.

"It is just a type of propaganda battle between the two factions," Chen said.

The commentary in the People's Daily is the third this week criticising Western-style politics. On Monday, it warned that constitutionalism - the idea that a government's power should be restrained by a higher system of laws that protects citizens' rights - was a Western conspiracy.

The same day, an article in the Study Times, a publication of the Central Party School, argued it was imperative for China to proceed with political reform.


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