China's new leader sets more informal style - Asia - World - The Independent

China's new leader sets more informal style

 

Beijing

Just three weeks after taking over as his country's top leader, Xi Jinping is trying to give Chinese Communism a more common touch.

Out are the tedious discourses laden with Marxist-Leninist cliches and clunky references to "Deng Xiaoping thought" and "the Three Represents." In are short, punchy statements marked by plain language and an informal style.

Xi personally signaled the change at a news conference Nov. 15, his first as the Communist Party's general secretary, with brief prepared remarks that stood in sharp contrast to the lengthy, theory-heavy statement delivered by his predecessor, Hu Jintao, when he took the top job in 2002. Among the differences: Xi introduced his fellow Standing Committee members as "my colleagues," where Hu had used the old revolutionary term "comrades."

The more down-to-earth style, which is already affecting the way meetings are run, has now been codified in a set of eight new rules released Wednesday.

"Official meetings should be shorter and to the point," reads one of the new rules, "with no empty rhetoric and rigmarole."

The change also appears directed at the state-run media, which have long inclined to exhaustive, jargon-ridden coverage of even the most mundane activities of senior officials. Reporting on the activities of Politburo members "should be decided by its newsworthiness and should be kept as simple and clear as possible," another new rule says.

Also targeted are the familiar ostentatious displays by officials, whether at home or abroad, that have become a source of derision among the public.

Top-level meetings involving official motorcades should be curtailed in the traffic-congested capital, the rules say. During local inspection tours in the provinces, "extravagant measures are strictly forbidden" and "visits should be made as simple as possible," with "no welcome banner, no red carpet, no floral arrangement or grand receptions."

Foreign trips also should be reduced to those absolutely necessary and include smaller entourages, the rules continue, and "there is no need for a reception by overseas Chinese, institutions and students at the airport."

The new guidelines were greeted positively, to judge by reactions in Wednesday's newspapers and on Weibo, China's Twitter-like microblog sites. A People's Daily weibo report on the development was retweeted some 5,700 times within three hours of being posted, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

The new style is already being felt — or heard — in official meetings.

On Nov. 21, Li Keqiang, China's second-ranked official and expected next premier, hosted a conference on agrarian reform. When local leaders began to read their statements, according to the usual practice, Li interrupted them, according to CCTV and a separate account by Xinhua. "I've read all the reports," he said. "You don't need to read them again." Li then peppered the attendees with specific questions on issues not covered in the written reports.

On Nov. 30, Wang Qishan, the new Standing Committee member in charge of party discipline, held a meeting with anti-corruption experts that left at least one participant with "a brand-new and fresh impression."

First, said Ren Jianming, a professor, Wang chaired the meeting himself, a task that an underling would have taken on in the past. Then, Ren noted, "He asked us to say whatever was on our minds and not just read the notes." Finally, "He gave us time to exchange opinions."

Wang himself spoke without notes or jargon, Ren said, and told the group that he was introducing the more open, free-flowing meeting style at the specific behest of Xi.

The new leader has already put the new style on display in public, favoring a casual look and sprinkling his official statements with everyday rhetoric. During a U.S. tour in February, when he was vice president, Xi appeared tieless at a Los Angeles Lakers basketball game and included an advertising jingle and a line from a pop song in speeches.

Touring an exhibition in Beijing last week with several of his new Standing Committee colleagues, Xi wore an open-collared shirt and casual zippered jacket. In a speech on renewing "the Chinese dream," he warned, "Making empty talk is harmful to the nation."

To some outside observers, the changes represent an effort to repair the Communist Party's battered public image.

"It's encouraging to see these kinds of measures," said Cheng Li, an expert on China's elite politics with the Brookings Institution in Washington, adding that the leadership appears determined to restore public confidence. "We should give them credit," he said. "This is not superficial."

The state-controlled media seemed to agree Wednesday.

"These are not hollow slogans," the China Daily newspaper said in its lead editorial. "They point directly at problems that estrange officialdom from the public."

- - -

Washington Post special correspondent Zhang Jie contributed to this report.

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 4 Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education is urgently re...

General Cover Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: SECONDARY SUPPLY TEACHERS NEEDED...

Food Technology Teacher

£6720 - £38400 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: Can you teach Food Te...

Bookkeeper / Accounts Administrator - Central London, £30-40k

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Bookkeeper - Central London, £30-40k...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week