Leading article: No longer such plain sailing in China

Share
Related Topics

The succession of comments this week by the Chinese leadership on the sudden sacking of the Communist Party boss of Chongqing, Bo Xilai, suggests both a nervousness about the public response to the fall of this popular leader and a determination to ensure a stable transition to a new leadership this autumn.

Both the outgoing Premier, Wen Jiabao, and the man widely expected to be his successor, Vice-President Xi Jiping, have now clearly distanced themselves not just from the man but from his populist espousal of a return to Maoist principles. China, declared Premier Wen, could not afford a second Cultural Revolution – a sentiment echoed by his putative successor in an article yesterday, calling for calm and warning of the dangers of a return to the past.

To Western leaders, this must come as some reassurance that China's new leadership will continue on the path of economic growth and a gradual opening of society that we have seen over the past decade. That would certainly appear to be the intention of those at the head of the party in Beijing. But their sensitivity over the sacking of Mr Bo also betrays the pressures they are facing from the rural majority which is seething at the corruption and pollution that have come with growth.

It was to these groups that Mr Bo appealed with his campaigns against entrenched interests, criminal gangs and corrupt officials. And it has been to the peasantry left behind by China's rapid growth that he addressed his "Sing the Red" programmes. As the economy has begun to slow and the government has to cope with rising inflation and unemployment, the strains on society have become more obvious – and harder to manage. Nor is there any sign that these trends will be reversed soon.

In his emotional press conference this week, Premier Wen gave an inkling of just how worrying these pressures have become. He signalled that, ideally, he and his designated successors would like to meet the challenge with a process of political as well as economic adjustment. This week's drama shows how hard this will be, as they will also have to protect their backs.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

1st Line Service Desk Analyst

£27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Norovirus the food poisoning bug that causes violent stomach flu  

A flu pandemic could decide next year’s election

Matthew Norman
J. Jayalalithaa gestures to her party supporters while standing on the balcony of her residence in Chennai. Former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is one of India's most colourful and controversial politicians  

The jailing of former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is a drama even Bollywood couldn’t produce

Andrew Buncombe
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style