Share This Page

New Communist Party chief talks about improving people's 'well-being'

| Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, 8:36 p.m.

BEIJING — No references to Marxism-Leninism or Mao Zedong. A speech lasting all of 16 minutes.

Xi Jinping's debut performance on Thursday as China's new leader won him plaudits for being concise, clear and refreshingly free of the turgid Communist Party rhetoric of his predecessors.

China's future, Xi said, requires raising the quality of life by reducing the economy's lopsided dependence on exports. He spoke of improving housing, medical care, education and the environment. He also said the government would strive to “make the Chinese nation stand rock-firm in the family of nations,” hinting at more assertive stances on the international stage.

Although the 59-year-old Xi is a well-known figure in China, having served the last five years as vice president, Thursday was the first time he stepped out as the party's general secretary, a position more powerful than the presidency he will take over from Hu Jintao in March.

Given Xi's new role, his speech drew intense scrutiny from Sinologists who will parse each word for clues to how he will steer this behemoth of a nation over the next decade.

Most notable was that the speech made no mention of Marxism-Leninism or Mao, instead emphasizing the need to improve the people's well-being, a new buzzword in Chinese public discourse.

“There are many pressing problems with the party that need to be resolved, particularly corruption, being out of touch with the people, putting too much emphasis on formalities and bureaucracy,” said Xi.

“I was so surprised by Xi's speech,” said He Peirong, an activist from Nanjing. “It actually sounded like he cared more about the people than the party.”

A breezy, populist style, however, will go only so far.

Chinese leaders today rule by consensus and Xi's fellow Standing Committee members, with the exception of Li Keqiang, the next premier, are hardly trailblazing reformers.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.