China's Chameleon Communists
The New York Times Editorial.
Published: November 10, 2002
Behind the scripted spectacle of their weeklong party congress, China's Communists aretrying to do something remarkable./ They are seeking to anoint leaders and select a message that will maintain a Leninist monopoly on power in a China that long ago abandoned the last vestiges ofCommunist economics and ideology. Americans, like most Chinese, can watch these events only passively from the outside. But people everywhere have a stake in how smooth a transition this emerging powercan make to the post-Communist era.
The congress will make a visible effort to attract the loyalty of a rising entrepreneurial class. New membership rules permit billionairebusinessmen to become card-carrying Communists. Some of these will now be elevated to party offices. /The congress will also sanctify the ''three represents'' formula associated with its outgoing leader,Jiang Zemin. The doctrine stands Marxism on its head by proclaiming the Communist Party's duty to represent not only workers and peasants but also the capitalist class. Delegates will also choose the newCentral Committee, which will formally designate the next generation of party leaders.
Whether this congress prepares a successful leap to the future will not be known right away.One requirement, surely, is a clean generational succession in which old leaders, for the first time in China's modern history, voluntarily yield power. That prospect has now been clouded by Mr.Jiang's last-minute maneuvering to retain the kind of behind-the-scenes clout Deng Xiaoping wielded long after his official retirement. Unclear lines of authority and a new leadership weakened at the startare not what China needs. What it does need is a decisive attack on rampant corruption. Graft has eroded the party's moral authority and sparked violent discontent among those who feel bypassed by...
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