Let’s be careful with that headline- the political winds of Guangzhou province are shifting, not those of China as a whole. Still, following a string of good news and a lot of potential from the Party leadership in Guangzhou, it’s nice to hear that the ‘Guangzhou model’ is even a thing that can be mentioned in the same sentence as the hard-line alternative the others are pushing these days. From Sydney Morning Herald:
THE leader of China’s most populous province is cautiously promoting a more democratic model against the country’s prevailing political winds.
The affirmation by Guangdong party chief Wang Yang of a more liberal ”Guangdong model” goes some way to answering a plea by many intellectuals for an ideological and practical alternative to the state-centric ”Chongqing model” that has been aggressively pushed by that city’s party chief, Bo Xilai.
Mr Wang juxtaposed his political preferences with those of Mr Bo but played down what is reputed to be a deepening rivalry between the pair ahead of next year’s crucial 18th party congress.
Last month, several of China’s most important intellectuals met in the hills west of Beijing to debate the merits of the two models.
Zhang Musheng, a magazine editor closely linked China’s key ”princeling” politicians, and whose own father served as secretary to premier Zhou Enlai, strongly endorsed Mr Bo’s Chongqing model for injecting new relevance into the Communist Party.
Li Shengping, an adviser to Hu Deping, who is the son of China’s liberal former party boss, Hu Yaobang, strongly sided with the ”democratic” traditions of Guangdong.
Mr Li said Guangdong province had a distinctively democratic lineage that could be traced from former leaders Marshall Ye Jianying and Xi Zhongxun – the father of China’s likely future president Xi Jinping – to the current Party chief Wang Yang.
Other participants, such as Southern Weekly columnist Xiao Xhu, welcomed regional competition rather than the merits of any particular model.
”To be frank, in the past 10 years it has become more and more clear that the regime has ‘rulers’ but no ‘governance’, it has almighty rulers but is totally incapable of governing,” said Mr Li.
”So both [Guangdong and Chongqing] are experiments to find solutions to failed governance,” he said.
Mr Wang is seen as a factional ally of Mr Hu. In the past two years he has toned down his relatively liberal rhetoric as more conservative state-centric policies and ideologies have prevailed.
But in recent months he has spoken out more freely and claims to be putting some of his ideas into practice.
Bo Xilai, of Chongqing model fame, is likely to be a big winner in the leadership swap next year. Hopefully he won’t see it as a rivalry, or else we might see the Guangzhou model scuttled before it even has a chance to prove itself.