There were no formalities and extravaganzas when Xi Jinping revisited Zhengding Town in Hebei Province on July 11, Hebei Daily (via Enorth, Tianjin) reported. No police motorcades, only two small or medium-sized buses, quietly like the rain (雨悄没声). And Xi even recognized the party branch secretary in the village from his first visit, in 2008.
Later, the party and state leader “spontaneously” visited a family:
“The General Secretary has come to our home”, 18-year-old Jie Jinkai wrote on QQ. The General Secretary had randomly chosen Jin’s family to visit there. “Village cadres knocked on the door, and the General Secretary just came in. I was on the internet, my younger sister was watching television, and Grandma, Mum and Dad were busy with other things – I couldn’t believe my eyes.”
The kids airing their heels, and Granny working her ass off: this was extremely realistically choreographed moderate-prosperity stuff, and the message was clear: The party’s new work style is in full swing, with modesty, cloeseness to the masses, small meals, and small people.
Will President Xi Jinping turn out to be a reformer in the vein of Taiwan’s Chiang Ching-kuo, the South China Morning Post (SCMP, Hong Kong) asked on July 18. Or will he walk a more conservative path, becoming a leader in the mould of Communist Party helmsman Mao Zedong?
Conventional wisdom has it that a new leader needs to consolidate power before making decisive political moves (if he has any on his mind). But the SCMP quoted members of liberal circles in China who believe the opposite: that Xi could only move before his successor (who would only succeed him in about nine or ten years, if you go by the experience of Jiang Zemin or Hu Jintao) becomes known. That’s to say, Xi’s window of opportunity would be during his first five-year term.
But rather, the SCMP quoted another liberal, Xi had moved to the “left”, i. e. Maoist tradition.
On July 19, People’s Daily (online) reported on Xi’s activities as chairman of the Central Military Commission. The CMC is both an organ of the party and the state, and formally, they are therefore two different bodies. However, membership of both of them is identical, and only during the transition between Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping, when Xi had become the CCP’s general secretary, and Hu remained head of state (and therefore the “state CMC”), their functions could count as slightly different from each other.
With Xi’s approval, People’s Daily wrote, the Central Military Commission has recently published the “Army implementation of the Party’s regulations on building the system of incorrupt government”. (经中央军委主席习近平批准，中央军委日前印发《军队实行党风廉政建设责任制的规定》。)
The “Regulations” thoroughly implement the spirit of the 18th National Congress of the CCP, and under the guidance of the Deng Xiaoping Theory, the important thoughts of the “Three Representatives” [Jiang Zemin] and of scientific development [Hu Jintao] resolutely implement Chairman Xi’s important series of instructions, closely centered around the party’s goal, in the new situation, of a strong military, in accordance with the Central Committee’s and the CMC’s relevant rules concerning
the Party’s regulations on building incorrupt government. [The “Regulations”] combine the troops’ reality, clearly stipulated the concrete responsibilities of all levels within the party committees, of the commissions for discipline inspection of the CCP, and of leading cadres, as well as measures for inspection, supervision, responsibility and investigation.
《规 定》深入贯彻落实党的十八大精神，以邓小平理论、“三个代表”重要思想、科学发展观为指导，坚决贯彻习主席一系列重要指示，紧紧围绕党在新形势下 的强军目标，依据党中央、中央军委关于党风廉政建设的有关规定，结合军队实际，明确规定了各级党委、纪委和领导干部在党风廉政建设中的具体责任，以及检查 监督和责任追究的制度措施。
The CMC requires all levels to thoroughly study the spirit of the 18th National Congress of the CCP, to conscientiously implement the Central Committee’s, the CMC’s and Chairman Xi’s important instructions on incorrupt government and anti-corruption work, conscientiously implement the Politburo’s eight rules of the CPC Central Committee on improving work style and maintaining close contact with the people, and the spirit of the CMC’s ten regulations for strengthening the work style, centered around the goal of a strong military, to do good work by strictly implementing the Party’s regulations on building incorrupt government. Measures of different forms must be taken for propaganda and education to create a good atmosphere for the implementation of the “Regulations”. The responsibility of the party work style of incorrupt government must be carried out earnestly, and concerted efforts must truly take shape.
中 央军委要求，各级要深入学习贯彻党的十八大精神，认真贯彻党中央、中央军委和习主席关于加强党风廉政建设和反腐败工作的重要指示，认真落实中央政治 局关于改进工作作风、密切联系群众八项规定和中央军委加强自身作风建设十项规定精神，紧紧围绕强军目标，把严格执行党风廉政建设责任制作为一项重要政治任 务切实抓紧抓好。要采取多种形式搞好宣传教育，营造学习贯彻《规定》的良好氛围。要切实履行抓党风廉政建设的责任，真正形成齐抓共管的合力。
Still within the third paragraph, but in bold characters, i. e. emphasized, the People’s Daily article says that
Right from the sources, corruption must be fought, in accordance with the “Regulations”, concrete measures and methods must be improved, systems to control and supervise with complete power must be built, and the power be impounded in a systematic cage. The edcuational activities for the development of the party’s mass line [or ampaign on mass line education and practice] must be deepened, we must concentrate on solving the four working-style problems of formalism, bureaucratism, hedonism and extravagance. Searching our way step by step, 抓铁有痕的劲头, clutching the building of the work style, we must achieve. We must adhere to the principle that where there’s where there is a [criminal? corruption?] case, there needs to be an investigation, where there’s corruption, there needs to be punishment, we must adhere to the principle of striking both at tigers and flies, and conscientiously rectify and deal with our [respective] units’ problems at party work style building, and corruption problems. By strict and impartial discipline, we guarantee the Party’s regulations on building the system of incorrupt government.
要 从源头上有效防治腐败，依据《规定》制定完善具体措施办法，健全权力运行制约和监督体系，把权力关进制度的笼子里。要深入开展党的群众路线教育实践活动， 集中解决形式主义、官僚主义、享乐主义和奢靡之风这“四风”问题，以踏石留印、抓铁有痕的劲头，把作风建设一抓到底、抓出成效。要坚持有案必查、有腐必 惩，坚持“老虎”“苍蝇”一起打，认真纠正并严肃处理本单位在党风廉政建设和反腐败工作中存在的问题，以严明的纪律保证党风廉政建设责任制的贯彻落实。
Not only the liberals quoted by the South China Morning Post on July 18 are pessimistic. Willy Wo-Lap Lam, once himself an SCMP editor, interprets Xi’s language as reminiscent of the Great Helmsman’s masterly blend of the vernacular and the metaphysical. And rather than establishing institutions such as universal-style checks and balances, […] Xi is resorting to Cultural Revolution-era ideological and propaganda campaigns to change of mindset of cadres, observes Lam.
This doesn’t necessarily amount to an allegation that Xi would be a Maoist himself. Rather, independent commissions against corruption might target the alleged wealth of China’s “first families”, not least Xi Jinping’s own family.
Institution-building could pose personal risks. But then, maybe the Xi’s aren’t that rich after all. Or maybe the new work style will truly take shape.
Until then, authority needs to be inherited.
Ban on new Government Buidlings, Herald Sun / AAP, July 23, 2013
Charges against Bo Xilai, BBC, July 25, 2013