The Wars of the Chinese Succession

What political reforms will Hu Jintao make in China? That is the question to ask the 59-year old engineer who will take over as head of the world's biggest and longest-ruling communist party next month. While talk about the horse-trading surrounding Hu's accession to power - and President Jiang Zemin's seeming desire not to leave the stage - has dominated Chinese affairs since summer, more important to China's future is an appreciation of Mr. Hu's inheritance and what he will do with it.

Hu Jintao's career does not inspire optimism. A 1998 Xinhua report quoted him as saying that "A good leader should carry forward democracy." But Hu's idea of democracy doesn't appear to contain ideas about the direct election of top leaders or of guaranteed individual freedoms.

According to Wu Jiaxiang, a former staffer on the Communist Central Committee secretariat who worked on political reforms before being jailed for three years after the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre, Hu believes in rule by elites chosen through a rigorous examination and approval process. In internal speeches, Hu identified the grooming of cadres and improved party operations as the keys to political reform. Those ideals were reflected in a new law governing cadres passed in July 2002 that Hu personally announced. This elitist model appeals to Chinese intellectuals who desire refined rulers.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To continue reading, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you are agreeing to our Terms and Conditions.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/d3hRWZ7;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.