After the Chinese leadership handover one of the biggest debates among China watchers was whether the new make-up of the Communist Party would be more open to political and economic reform.
In the time since, China has been pushing economic reforms along, surprising many. But on the political front, reforms have barely materialised.
We have seen a reorganization of some departments, and a crackdown on corruption, but liberalization in the top tiers of the Communist Party seems unlikely.
After a two-week visit to China and Hong Kong, Arthur Dong, professor of strategy and economics at Georgetown University told Business Insider that he is seeing more party indoctrination.
“I met with a party member, who happens to be a high ranking member of the party. I had lunch with him and what he expressed to me, was all senior level party members are being sent to an essentially re-education. They’re being sent to the equivalent of their West Point and they’re undergoing more party indoctrination, where they have to wear uniform.
“He showed me a picture where they’re donning their uniforms of Mao’s long march. They’re all being required to partake in this sort of party cleansing exercise, where they have to be reminded of the roots of their past, wear the uniforms of the long march, go through this sort of reeducation process to remind them about party loyalty, and also to be faithful to the party’s ideals.”
Chinese president Xi Jinping has previously said that his early years working in the countryside continue to inform his thinking today. He is also described as as “redder than red”.
We also recently saw “Document Number Nine” being circulated among party members which called for party members to “denounce any dissent and be on guard against Westerners’ subversive plots and such “extremely malicious” notions as universal values, civil society and constitutional democracy,” The Economist pointed out.
“I don’t necessarily see any political reform on the horizon. Any liberalization. If anything, we might even see more hardening based on my observations of what’s going on with party leadership,” Professor Dong said.
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