I was quite impressed when SCMP reported that, in a speech in May, Wang Yang expressed the view: “The party can’t make you (citizens) happy.”
He said, “We should eradicate the wrong concept that happiness is a benevolent gift from the party and the government.”
SCMP said in its report, “The remarks represent a departure from years of propaganda that has urged citizens to view the party as a benefactor and provider of good fortune.
“The theme echoes Wang’s two-year-old ‘Happy Guangdong’ campaign, in which the province set up a happiness index and encouraged people to strive for joy in their lives.”
Wang gave me the impression that he either forgot or implied: how can people really be happy without human rights and democracy?
Therefore, I wrote the following ragged verse:
The party cannot make you happy.
It can boost the economy;
It can increase your income;
It can provide you with lots of commodities,
But it cannot give you human rights and democracy.
You have to pursue happiness yourselves.
Strive for human rights and democracy, buddy!
Wang Yang is a powerful party boss of Guangdong, the richest province in China, and a Politburo member. Before Bo Xilai fell into disgrace, Wang was widely regarded as an official setting up a Guangdong Model to counter Bo’s Chongqing Model.
However, he was so clever that as soon as People’s Daily published its commentary on Bo’s downfall and called for obedience to the central authority, he said that there was no Guangdong Model but only the China Model in order to show that he had always followed Beijing’s instructions.
In the 1st and 2nd quarters of this year, Guangdong’s GDP grew much slower respectively 7.2% and 7.6%. Bo Xilai’s model was socialism with his focus on the development of large state-owned enterprises while Wang Yang’s model is capitalist market economy.
Wang’s way for Guangdong’s economic recovery is innovation and creation. According to Singtao Daily, at a meeting in Zhongshan City on July 19, Wang Yang said, “If an enterprise is sufficiently strong in its ability of innovation and creation, it may rise in spite of the downward trend,” and “Our products will be unmarketable if we remain unable to innovate and create.”
He pointed out that in a market economy, survival of the fittest is realised through cyclical fluctuation. Each economic fluctuation may lead to the birth of a new technology and give rise to improvement of the productive force.
The constantly changing complicated economic situation at home and abroad has made Guangdong face great challenge. However, it also constitutes a mechanism to force Guangdong to enhance its innovative and creative capability in science and technology, and has thus brought opportunities.
That proves that he is not only a political but also an enlightened economic reformer.
He has been carrying out a campaign against graft and other crimes since he found that Bo’s campaign against organised crime was popular though Bo was denounced for disrespecting the rule of law in doing so.
On August 22, Beijing gave approval for Guangdong to explore streamlining bureaucratic red tape, which may set an example for the rest of the country. It may also afford Wang more leverage in political jockeying ahead of this autumn’s party congress.
It seems to me that he has a great chance to be promoted into the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC).
However, in SCMP’s report “Jiang Zemin’s allies set to eclipse Hu Jintao’s on new Standing Committee” yesterday, it mentioned information learnt from sources about the new line-up of the next PSC that its members will be reduced to seven. The paper says that the line-up is almost certain to include Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang who are already members, and Yu Zhengsheng, Zhang Dejiang, Li Yuanchao and Wang Qishan.
However, it is not sure which of the three: Guangdong party secretary Wang Yang, Tianjin party secretary Zhang Gaoli and propaganda chief Liu Yunshan will the seventh member but believes that Zhang’s chance is the greatest.
I really cannot make myself believe SCMP’s speculation due to its track records of making wrong predictions, especially its recent report entitled “Next step this week in Bo’s fall from grace”, stating, “Disgraced former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai is expected to be stripped of his membership of the legislature this week,” while Singtao Daily gave a contrary report the same day entitled “Bo Xilai Expected to Remain an NPC Deputy for the Time Being”.
It turned out Singtao was correct as it had contacted Chongqing People’s Congress before publishing its report. Obviously, its reporter knows Chinese constitution that stripping Bo’s NPC membership should begin from Chongqing; while SCMP’s staff did not do the homework.
Knowing well the lack of transparency in Chinese politics, we should make allowance for such inaccuracy in speculation.
Wang’s view on the party being unable to make citizens happy shows that he is an open-minded reformer that China urgently needs for its reform in the future. He may incur opposition from the conservatives, but I believe as the conservatives have suffered a great setback in Bo Xilai’s downfall, Wang’s chance to enter the PSC must be greater now. Anyway, whether Wang is promoted may be an indicator of future reform, especially political reform in China.
- China’s reserve of talented leaders: Wang Qishan (chinadailymail.com)
- Conflicting news in China on Bo Xilai’s destiny (chinadailymail.com)
- Could reformer Wang Yang make the Politburo Standing Committee? (wantchinatimes.com)