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Wednesday, 12 September 2012

China's Vice President Xi Jinping Missing?

YANQING, China -- Communist Party member Guan Rong was among 100 government officials to gather in this rural district Tuesday and listen to a touring propaganda team praise the new leadership in Beijing.
"I was very moved" by the inspirational tales themed as "the party in our hearts," said Guan, 25.
"The party seeks to serve the masses ever better," she said.
However, recent scandals and the disappearance from public sight of the man who is supposed to inherit the presidency has rumors swirling that the Communist Party's once-a-decade leadership change may not go off as planned.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Tuesday that he had no information about the status of the leader-in-waiting, Vice President Xi Jinping, who dropped from sight 11 days ago and has canceled a series of meetings with foreign visitors.
Xi, 59, has not appeared on state-run media during his absence and canceled a meeting last week with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Internet explanations for the absence range from a swimming injury to an ailment that paralyzed his face.
One China analyst blamed Xi's absence on senior leader Bo Xilai, who vanished from sight months ago and is being investigated for possible crimes. Bo's wife was recently convicted of murdering a British businessman, and his police chief was charged with defection.
The absence of Xi and He Guoqiang, another top leader, along with the lack of a resolution in Bo's case, "suggests that Xi and He are busy trying to figure out how to deal with Bo," said Andrew Nathan, a political scientist at Columbia University in New York City.
Nathan said the case of Bo, who has powerful allies and enemies in the Communist Party, must be resolved before the 18th Party Congress meets to select China's new leaders.
"China's leadership creates an instability of its own" through an opaque system that allows for the multiple Xi rumors, said David Zweig, a China politics expert at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
The Communist Party still strives to portray leaders as "healthy and robust," combined with a secretiveness that blocks all personal information, he said.
Wang Shuquan, a waiter in a noodle shop in Beijing's central Chaoyang district, speculated that Chinese leaders' health "may be a state secret" and besides, the common people "are not interested in serious political events."
"We are curious about our leaders' family and health condition, just like we follow some pop stars' daily lives, but in China, those things are not open to the public," said Wang, 23.
The Communist Party controls media outlets and pressures more independent voices to conform to its dictates. But it also tries to make propaganda fun, and that has been on display recently as it attempts to keep the country stable before the leadership transition.
GuanRong and husband Li Baoan were among 18 couples that married last month in amass wedding Yanqing party officials organized to celebrate the Congress.
In Yanqing's Shanghuayuan village, corn farmer Zhai Zhimin attended a dance competition for villages in honor of the Congress and saw a free opera.
"The singing was excellent. I am grateful to the Communist Party. Farmers' lives are gradually improving," said Zhai, 44.
The party "has always combined entertainment with political education," said Anne-Marie Brady, an expert on Chinese propaganda at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. From village opera to urban pop concerts, the party understands the Roman rulers' tactic of providing "bread and circuses," she said.
Today, party bosses blend traditional propaganda tactics from Chairman Mao Zedong's era with modern methods such as microblogging to target different audiences, Brady said.
"You can call it propaganda or public diplomacy. It's a very diverse and complex project to mold public opinion," she said.
The current propaganda drive delivers a two-pronged strategy "trying to get more adherence out in society, but a major effort, larger than before, is to keep the party faithful faithful," said Russell Moses, a Beijing-based political analyst.
The lack of a start date for the congress "indicates how wide-ranging and deep the discussions are," Moses said. "The congress will set the table for what sort of development path China takes for the foreseeable future."
Farmer Zhai can vote for village leaders, but she laughs at the idea of being allowed to vote for China's leaders. "We ordinary people don't understand politics at their elite level. I just hope the party chooses the right leader," he said
EXPLORE:  World News           China         Bo Xilai           Gu kailai  

Edited By Cen Fox Post Team

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