Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Reform on the front page

One of China’s most daring papers and the country’s boring, English-language propaganda sheet agree: the People’s Republic will finally begin to open its government.

Or, as Nanfang Dushi Bao (Southern Metropolis Daily) says in its headline, “Expand People’s Democracy, Build Ecological Civilization.” Or as China Daily meanwhile reports, “Political reform ‘will be pursued.’”

Neither explains what any of this means, which is understandable, as we don’t have much to go on but Hu Jintao’s report at the opening of the 17th Party Congress, which was heavy on carefully chosen phrases and a bit sparse on details.

And both papers could have different reasons for the same conclusion.

Nanfang Dushi Bao may be continuing a proud tradition of taking leaders at their words when those words are welcome and then trumpeting those words as loudly as possible in the hope that maybe, just maybe those words—and not other official pronouncements—will come true (O'Brien and Li have called this "rightful resistance" in other contexts). China Daily might just be trying to make foreigners like me happy.

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