China debates: Reagan vs. Mao?

of the Guardian:

Communisty party top brass depart from tight-lipped unity as politburo gears up for change in 2012   excerpts

“One of the most important lessons Chinese leaders have learned from the 1989 Tiananmen incident is that they should not reveal their internal conflicts to the public,” said Cheng Li, director of research at the Brookings Institution’s John L Thornton China Centre….. Some see this as a choice between the “Chongqing” model and the “Guangdong” model. “On the one hand, over the past 30 years we have seen the emergence of China’s middle class, who now have a stronger appetite for political participation and rights protection. The Guangdong model is focusing on this social structure. On the other hand, [there is] a wealth gap, which is what the Chongqing model is about.”

The theoretical discussion is inseparable from the prospects of the men who have promoted these ideas: Bo Xilai and Wang Yang, the party secretaries of Chongqing and Guangdong respectively.

“If you read People’s Daily [the official Communist party newspaper], you will see indirect campaigning on behalf of the different leaders. You read about Bo Xilai; you read about Wang Yang,” said Bo Zhiyue, an expert on Chinese elite politics at the East Asian Institute of the National University of Singapore. “Before the sixth plenum [a meeting of senior leaders which this year focused on culture] there was a major article about Guangdong’s cultural development – very timely promotion for Wang,” he added.

Wang has promoted “Happy Guangdong”, a concept that addresses quality of life issues. Bo Xilai has taken an even more striking approach, launching a crackdown on organised crime, followed by a “red culture” campaign with wholesome television programming and the mass singing of revolutionary songs. While they have delighted many in Chongqing, the crackdown’s methods and the quasi-Maoist tone of the cultural drive alarmed liberals.

………..Meanwhile, Wang told a provincial meeting this summer that learning and reviewing party history was more beneficial “than just singing its praises”, a comment that some suspected was a dig at Bo’s red songs campaign……In the end, said Bo Zhiyue, the issues will be settled in the usual way: “Collective bargaining among top leaders, mainly among the current members of the standing committee and former leaders, with politburo members also having a say.”

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