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Even Under New Leadership, China Looks Bleakly to the Next Decade

The week-long 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China finally came to an end on November 14, 2012. A new generation of leaders, headed by Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, took over from the previous leadership headed by Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao.

When Hu and Wen came into power ten years ago, pro-political reform media, in particular the Southern Daily Group, believed that the new leadership would open a new page to legal and political reform. But Hu-Wen's decade has ended, and their legacy [zh] is a set of social management for the purpose of stability control, an increase in national defense, rapid urbanization and rapid growth in GDP. It is clear that people are disappointed [zh] about the missing legal and political reform. Yet critical evaluation of the past is too sensitive a topic for mainstream media. The overall tone of the state-controlled media is forward looking to the next decade of new leadership. But on social media, netizens were more open with their criticism.

The 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. Photo from Voice of America. Public Domain.

Human rights lawyer Guo Feixiong evaluated the past 10 years in a citizen forum [transcript published in Charter 08's blog]:

在这十年中,官员腐败的规模,同经济成就一道,登上了历史高峰。乘时崛起的世袭家族、官僚特权阶层和部门利益集团,构成了今日中国社会的三大等级-半等级势力。…从当年社会财富总量中割走的份额越来越大,底层民众越是被经济增长的高速列车所抛出,部分人甚至在医疗、教育、社保新“三座大山”压迫下回归赤贫,那些曾经分享了经济增长部分红利的城市地区,则由于“一套房子消灭一个中产家庭”,出现了“中产人为不定形”的阶层结构振荡,一旦遭遇大衰退,年轻人群的供给能力将难以为继。而权力私有化、社会等级化的大势决定下的普遍的机会不均等,更使得整个平民阶层越来越感到出路渺茫,因而越来越气馁、受挫乃至绝望。

更大危害则在于维稳体制的尾大不掉…通过对“新黑五类”的打压,维稳体系成功地为后极权主义扩充了数十倍的敌人,由此,他们反弹出更大的恐惧,并试图用升级的暴力迫害彻底抹平自己的恐惧。迄今为止,他们仍陷入制造对立,拒绝和解的迷雾中。

In the past decade, the scale of corruption expanded in the economy and reached its highest point in history. Wealthy families, privileged officials and interest groups constitute three major forces in today's society… the proportion of fortune they have taken from the sum of society's wealth is getting bigger and bigger and the [people at the] bottom have been kicked out from this fast moving train. Some have turned proletarian because of the burden of medical care, education and social insurance. In some urban districts which have benefited from economic growth, as a result of property bubbles, the middle class families are all tied up in mortgages. When regression happens, the young generation will not be able to support themselves. The government authorities have appropriated for private interest and there are no equal opportunities. Ordinary people can not find their salvation and feel frustrated and desperate.

The biggest threat lies in the stability maintenance system… The oppression of the new black five categories has created 10 times more enemies in the post-authoritarian era. It generates more fear and they try to erase their fear with more violence. They are trapped in this vicious circle of creating of enemy and fear as they refuse to reconcile [with the dissidents].

The evaluation of the Hu-Wen leadership in the past decade on micro-blogging sites somehow reflects the frustration Guo has addressed. Below are some selected comments [zh]:

说山东话的李:十年前,大家对新政抱有厚望,可结果却是大失所望。十年后,大家没什么期望,也就没什么失望的了。

Shandong Li: Ten years ago, people had so much hope for the new policy, but the result is disappointment. Ten year later, we don't have hope and thus no disappointment.

奋青张珑耀:十年前你来了,大家对你充满了期待,以为会有新政。结果十年来除了房价飙升、腐败横行、贫富差距剧增以外,什么都没发生。但我们还是对你报以希望,以为你能最后一搏做出改变,结果最后你居然被一只诈尸的蛤蟆给搞趴下了。你辜负了跟随你多年兄弟们的期望,更辜负了多年来对你寄予厚望的人民的期望!

Angry youth Zhang Longyao: 10 year ago, you came and people were full of expectation. They thought there would a new policy. But what we saw in the past 10 years was rocket-high properties, corruption, disparity between the rich and poor. Yet we still hoped that you could make some changes before you left. But you were trembling before the pretended-to-be-dead toad [meaning Jiang Zeming]. You have disappointed your brothers who have followed you all these years and all the people who had hope on you.

彭泓源:有人说虎哥完败,我认为未必,还是那句话,灯一关,谁都一样,当年鼓吹某某新政的西方周末,留下十年笑柄而已。

Pang Hongyuan: Some say Hu is over. I don't think so. In fact, when there is no light, all the leaders are the same. The Weekend media which had flattered about the so-called new policy back then has now become a joke.

t-sd:所谓糊稳新政,压根儿没有的事。2002-2012糊稳十年,乃大历史上较1992-2002更不堪的十年。

t-sd: The so call Hu-Wen new policy has never taken place. The development in Hu-Wen's decade from 2002-2012 was even worse than 1992-2002.

突然空闲_: 别告诉我谁谁谁多英明多有能力多有魄力,去想想10年前那“谁谁新政”!一个绝对倒退的十年,今后的十年能否前进,不得而知,但求倒退的速度慢点。

Suddenly free: Don't tell me so and so is clever, capable or strong. Just look back at the decade-long so and so's new policy! A decade that moved backward. Don't know if the next decade will move forward, just hope that it will slow down in moving backwards.

刘胜军改革 : 【我的未来十年十大心愿】1、不用再到海外买婴儿奶粉;2、能在大超市买到安全的食品;3、白领不再沦为房奴;4、环境污染不再恶化;5、贫富差距不再扩大;6、企业家不再忙着移民;7、裸官不再增多;8、股市从圈钱机器变成价值创造场所;9、人民不再“拼爹”,机会公平;10、对公权力的约束取得显著进展

Columnist Liu Shenjun: [My 10 hopes for the next decade] 1. Don't need to buy baby formula milk powder from overseas; 2. Can get safe food from big supermarkets; 3. White collar strata do not need to become slaves to the property market; 4. Environmental pollution will not get worse; 5 Gap between the rich and the poor will not widen further; 6 Entrepreneurs are not rushing out of the country; 7. Less corrupt officials; 8. Stock market ceases to become money drawing machine but a genuine investment market; 9. People don't have to depend on their parent's connections to climb up the social ladder, more equal opportunities; 10. More restrain on the power of the authorities.

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