Communist party general secretary Xi Jinping has urged the CPC to more tolerant of criticism and and receptive to the views of non-communists, in a speech made on Wednesday.
Xi, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks on Wednesday, at a gathering convened to extend Lunar New Year’s greetings to people from non-communist parties, the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, and those without party affiliations.
“The CPC should be able to put up with sharp criticism, correct mistakes if it has committed them and avoid them if it has not,” he said.
“Non-CPC personages should meanwhile have the courage to tell the truth, speak words jarring on the ear, and truthfully reflect public aspirations,” he added.
Criticism from non-communist personages could help the CPC to identify, analyze and solve problems, he pointed out.
Xi asked CPC committees at all levels to readily accept and welcome supervision from non-communist parties and personages so as to improve their work style and quality.
Since he assumed the mantle of power, Xi has pushed, at least rhetorically, for change and transparency in the way the CPC operates, cultivating an image of himself as fighter of graft and corruption:
“I am sure he is sincere in his desire to position the Party as well as possible to be sustainable and not be affected by any nasty shocks,” said Kerry Brown, head of the University of Sydney’s China Studies Centre and the author of a book on Mr Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao.
“[But] beyond what he has said and beyond officials not now having huge public banquets, why look at this and say it is any different from the lovely rhetoric the Party has produced in the past?”
“We have seen no real evidence that the harassment of dissidents [has eased] or any kind of thaw on how people are treated. The internet is still policed in the same way as it was in the middle of last year,” added Prof. Brown. “That is not to say this couldn’t lead somewhere interesting.”
Grand words about stamping out corruption and welcoming criticism are all well and good, but the CPC has an unfortunate tendency to forget about them once they leave the leader of the time’s mouth. Even Mao Zedong welcomed criticism for a time, though he changed his mind pretty quickly when it became how apparent just how critical citizens were of the Great Helmsman’s China.