Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Streamlining Communist Decorum

Xi Jinping is now calling for less ostentation and fluff
What a breath of fresh air.

Incoming party secretary general Xi Jinping has called for a number of changes to official protocol -- by demanding less of it.

At yesterday's meeting, Xi pledged to reduce ostentation and bureaucratic visits, meetings and talks.

Some of these include:

- Scrapping or restricting traffic controls arranged for leaders' trips to avoid unnecessary inconvenience to the public;

- Reducing or restricting airport welcoming and seeing off ceremonies for visiting leaders;

- Cutting spending and the number of escorts for leaders on official domestic and overseas visits;

- Shortening meetings and banning "empty talk";

- Stopping state media from issuing pointless stories about official events unless they have news value, and if they do to be short and to the point.

"We will make clear our determination to improve our style of work and to solve the problems that the masses are particular discontented with," said a statement from the Politburo along with the above measures.

"The style of officials, particularly top officials, has an important impact upon the style of the party and the style of the government and even on the whole of society. Such a working style must first start with the members of the Politburo. If you want people to do something then do it yourself first; if you don't want somebody to do something then certainly do not do it yourself."

It's fascinating and amusing to see the incoming government having to spell out these things, but at the same time it signals a big change in Chinese Communist Party decorum.

"The measures reflect the new leadership's understanding of public sentiment and the increasing role of public opinion in the formulation of government policy," said Ma Guoxian, a political affairs analyst and director of Shanghai University of Finance and Economics' Public Policy Research Centre.

What are broadcasters going to fill up their air time now that they have less to report on?

And what about all those florists? They will have fewer orders for bouquets for visiting dignitaries and no more overflowing flower arrangements on podiums?

Perhaps another good thing is that students will not have to sacrifice classes when senior officials visit.

Another interesting development is that yesterday at a separate occasion, Xi gave a speech commemorating the 30th anniversary of China's constitution and said that no organization or individual should be put above the constitution.

Does this mean princelings and their families can no longer benefit from their guanxi that have led to families like outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao's family to amass billions in wealth? While it is legal, perhaps the government will now move to limit their ability to grab what they can?

We shall see...

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