The Chinese Communist Party is riding a tiger. It’s big, powerful, and deeply entrenched. It’s also hanging on to a booming nation where dog-eat-dog capitalism rules, rivers are poisoned, labor unrest and poverty are very real, and China’s boom itself creates challenges to the regime.
The face the Party shows the world is monolithic. But inside the Party walls, there’s a debate over China’s future, with implications for the whole world.
When China turned away from the old-fashioned communist economics of Chairman Mao, it turned with a vengeance — to what even The Wall Street Journal now calls a kind of naked, unfettered capitalism. That move brought hundreds of millions out of dollar-a-day poverty. It also wiped out much of a cradle-to-grave safety net, tore up China’s environment and produced a vast gap between China’s rich and poor. Now, behind that monolithic façade, a debate is underway within the Communist Party about how to respond, and talk of a “New Left” and “New Right” that can sound like China’s version of Republicans and Democrats.
This hour, live from Shanghai, we look at power and the Party in China.
Can you imagine China's inside debate over where and how to move next? Can you imagine how China’s decision will effect you?
Joining us in our Shanghai studio is Fang Xinghai, Director General of the Office for Financial Services in the Shanghai Metropolitan Government and former Deputy CEO of the Shanghai Stock Exchange. In this hour, he will not speak as an official but give us his personal views.
Joining us from Beijing is Wang Hui. He is a key figure in a group of intellectuals sometimes described as China's "New Left." He was executive editor of China’s leading intellectual journal, Dushu, and is a professor of Chinese language and literature at Tsinghua University in Beijing. (Wang Hui was profiled in The New York Times Magazine in October 2006.)
And with us from Brussels is Mark Leonard, executive director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, a European foreign-policy think tank based in London with offices in seven countries. He is the author of the new book "What Does China Think?"
This program aired on April 16, 2008.