Corruption is a threat to the future of China, said Hu Jintao at the opening day of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China yesterday. Unchecked corruption could lead to the collapse of the Communist Party and the fall of the country, he warned. These were the most dire pronouncements against corruption at the most senior level (see related story on BBC News).
This week Communist Party leaders gather to manage a once-in-a-decade transfer of power. Incoming president Xi Jinping will lead the nation for the next ten years. By 2020 the GDP and per capita income of China should be double today’s level. The inclusion of a per capita income goal is a first. This demonstrates the leaderships recognition that increasing income disparities also threaten the Communist Party’s grip on power.
Also added to the Party goals for the coming years is an ecological goal. Prior leadership statements focused on financial goals alone. The recognition that China needs to care for its environment is another nod to growing community concerns over the state of air and water.
In the same week American elected new leadership, some select individuals in China today select a next-generation leader. To those gathered in the drafty Hall of the People, their hope is they are nominating a strong leader who can unite the country and keep the Communist Party in power. Yet with all these challenges, Xi Jinping may become the Gorbachev of China presiding over the break-up of the world’s most populous nation.