by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) June 29, 2011
Founded by a few intellectuals 90 years ago, China's Communist Party now presides over the world's second-largest economy -- but this feat has come at a price that threatens its survival, analysts say.
The country is marking the CCP's 90th anniversary on Friday with a propaganda blitz that includes a star-studded patriotic film and huge media coverage, but experts warn the future is clouded for the one-party regime.
"Because it's not being managed in a democratic way, growth has carried a heavy price with environmental degradation, lack of healthcare and so forth," said James Seymour, adjunct professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
"Inherent weaknesses in the system mean that the party's not going to be there for centuries. Judging by the Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party) and the Soviet Communist experience, they've got about another 10 years."
The CCP was created in July 1921 by a dozen intellectuals in Shanghai. It seized power in China in 1949 after defeating the Nationalists in a bloody civil war.
Mao Zedong, the first Communist leader of China, subsequently unleashed nearly 30 years of chaos on the country through policies that led to political purges, famine and social upheavals in which millions died.
When Deng Xiaoping took over after Mao's death in 1976, he launched a period of reforms and opening-up that saw the country's economy grow at a dizzying speed, lifting millions out of poverty.
But the party's small group of elite leaders continues to exercise an iron grip on the country's political system, controls the media, manages the world's largest military and decides how to keep the economy churning along.
Analysts say the lack of social and political changes to keep step with the economic reforms has sparked a litany of problems such as government abuses, illegal land seizures, a growing rich-poor divide and choking pollution.
Corruption within the party ranks is also a huge issue, and President Hu Jintao himself has acknowledged it presents a major threat to the CCP's legitimacy.
"Many people have a good opinion of top leaders, but they don't trust local governments and officials," Hu Xingdou, a professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology, told AFP.
"Local corruption has triggered fierce conflicts between officials and people, and ties between cadres and ordinary people are tense."
Chinese authorities are not letting these issues cloud anniversary celebrations -- newspapers are full of glowing editorials about the CCP, patriotic shows are given huge coverage and upbeat slogans dot city billboards.
One opinion piece in the official People's Daily said Tuesday the "vanguard" nature of the party had enabled it to "lead the people to launch revolution, construction and reform and write brilliant historical chapters".
An epic film that recounts the Communist Party's origins and features many of China's biggest stars -- "Beginning of the Great Revival" -- is expected to smash box-office records.
Authorities have told broadcasters to avoid airing dramas about crime, romance or espionage over the next three months and instead focus on patriotic programmes, according to state media.
This policy has been in place for months in the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing, where Communist Party chief Bo Xilai is evoking Mao by urging residents to sing "red songs" and sending cadres to work in the countryside.
Last week, a senior official told reporters that party membership had topped 80 million as of the end of 2010, with more than three million accepted last year.
But while some people have shown enthusiasm for the celebrations, others angrily report that they are being forced into activities against their will.
"I am not a party member and should have nothing to do with the 90th anniversary, but I have to practise singing after work," one Internet user said on China's Twitter-like service Sina Weibo.
Beijing Institute of Technology's Hu said that from a political standpoint, the Communist Party had not changed much over the years, adding a planned leadership change beginning in 2012 was likely to bring more of the same.
"It will just be a continuation of the policies of the previous generation of leaders. There may be a small adjustment, but no big turning point," Hu said.
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Wen in Germany warns against rights lectures
Berlin (AFP) June 28, 2011
Germany and China held their first joint cabinet meeting Tuesday and were to ink billions in new business contracts, but Premier Wen Jiabao warned Europe against interfering in its internal affairs. Wen arrived in Berlin late Monday from London where he and British Prime Minister David Cameron signed trade deals worth 1.6 billion euros while the Chinese premier brushed aside questions over B ... read more
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