Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Chinese Communist Party: Annus Horribilis

2011 was to be a great year for the Communist Party of China (CPC). 

It was to be a year of celebration marking the 90th anniversary of the founding of the party in the back streets of Shanghai in 1921.

China's newspapers were festooned with striking red and gold logos depicting the icon of the CPC. It was a year meant for the CPC to proclaim it's greatness and showcase how effectively the Chinese political and economic system, under the sure and steady hand of the party, had transformed China from being under the whip hand of foreigners and warlords, mired in corruption and poverty, to the Dragon Rampant.

But just as another 'Dynasty' suffered it's Annus Horribilis the CPC found out things can go pear shaped very unexpectedly and very, very fast.

Amid the pomp and circumstance of the Anniversary the first crash, of what was to be one of many, occurred. 

The Crash...

On 23 July 2011, two high-speed trains (VFT) travelling on the Yongtaiwen railway line collided on a viaduct in  Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province. Apart from the 40 people who were killed, and the 192 who were injured, the biggest casualty was the CPC.

The country's pride and joy, the embodiment of all that was supposedly great in the new China lay in a mangled heap under a train bridge. And so too, over the ensuing weeks, the CPC came to join it.

Claims of corruption and of burying carriages. Of poor and inconsiderate response from the Central Government and the nations leaders, including the heretofore, venerable Wen and Hu. The whole event turned into a farce and made the CPC the butt of national and international criticism and derision.


Not six months later, and before the dust of Wenzhou had settled, on December 13 a band of villagers forced out local party leaders and the police and took control of the town of Wukan. 

 Whilst it soon became evidently clear that the villagers were protesting local land grab and corruption issues and not the central Government or the CPC generally, great pressure was brought to bear on both.

The international press saw it as a 'Democracy movement' and played the angle for all it was worth. 'China demands democracy' the headlines screamed. Democracy with Chinese 'Characteristics' under the CPC was a failure, it was touted.

The government and, ergo, the CPC response? They did what they have become adept at: totally mismanaging developing issues. From a PR perspective a small local issue blew out to a major international indictment of the CPC.

The Economic Model...

The CPC's economic management was the next to come under the spotlight. 

On February 27, a key government think tank and the World Bank issued its China 2030 report. 

The report surmised that China's economic rising, as evidenced by it's incredible rapid growth, could only be sustained by giving more attention to the the private sector and less to the state economy. 

The economic model of tight control of the CPC over the economy needed to be rethought, in other words, the CPC did not have the answers going forward.

The Underbelly Exposed...

The next event in the house of cards came with the Bo Xilai Affair on April 10, when the high profile and charismatic regional party leader, Bo Xilai, was dismissed as party boss of Chongqing and expelled from the Politburo.

Whilst the CPC acted quickly and decisively the whole affair exposed the underbelly of China's ruling party, an underbelly of corruption, crime and of obvious complicity or, at the very least, a 'Three Monkeys' attitude at the very highest levels.

The Blind Leading the Blind...

On April 27, blind and internationally renown dissident and civil rights advocate, Chen Guangcheng, evaded security guards guarding his house in his home village and made it to Beijing, where he was given refuge in the U.S. embassy.

He also posted an emotional plea on YouTube seeking an investigation by the central government into his treatment and calling for the safety of his family.

Again it became an international headline and a cause celebre

And, once again, the CPC did what it does best; it totally mismanaged the whole affair letting it turn into another PR nightmare and backing itself into a corner it will find hard to escape from with any face.

That it has got this far shows just how out of touch with reality the CPC is. A blind person, a campaigner against forced abortions and a family man held by thugs ex judicially with the eyes of the whole world upon him. Incredible to say the least. Does it go to stupidity on behalf of the CPC or meglomanic self righteousness? A regime so full of itself that it is oblivious to the bigger picture.

Foreign Relations Askant...

Where do you start in this nightmare created for and by the CPC.

China's Foreign Policy in the last year has been nothing short of of a bad dream. 

From Syria to the South China Seas. From India to North Korea. 

Blustering, belligerent uncoordinated, unfocused, are just some of the words that spring to mind. 

It is a veritable dogs breakfast. The CPC has not a clue what it wants to be. Good Cop, Bad Cop? Facilitator or provocateur? If the reader does not have an answer rest assured, nor does the CPC.

The Ethnic issues...

As a backdrop to this litany is a regime floundering in it's domestic ethnic issues.

The ongoing Tibet self immolations see a regime bereft of any answers other than to decry the Dalai Lama and publish ad nauseam in it's political press organs how great have been the gains made by the Tibetans under the fatherly wisdom and guidance of the Party.

The violence in Xinjiang, on and by the Uyghurs, again are indicative of a regime without answers or one hell bent regardless of the international response in nullifying a people and a culture.

The Wrap...

The anniversary of Wuzhou has yet to arrive. The Annus Horribilus may be far from over for the CPC. It is flood season in China, a period marked by natural disasters and industrial accidents, such as Coal mine flooding, resulting in many deaths. It also is the protest season and who knows what surprises that holds in store.

In their legacy year Hu will want to be remembered as the leader who brought to fruition the economic dreams of Deng. He will succeed in that. Wen will want to be remembered as the man who foresaw that the  future of the CPC is dependant on reform. He will be also be successful, in thought if not deed.

Can, or more to the point will the CPC take anything from the Annus Horribilis to save itself? Unlikely.