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Xi’s double talk on reforms

When China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, visited the country’s south to promote himself before the public as an audacious reformer following in the footsteps of Deng Xiaoping, he had another message to deliver to Communist Party officials behind closed doors.

world Updated: Feb 15, 2013 23:00 IST

When China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, visited the country’s south to promote himself before the public as an audacious reformer following in the footsteps of Deng Xiaoping, he had another message to deliver to Communist Party officials behind closed doors.

Despite decades of heady economic growth, Xi told party insiders during a visit to Guangdong province in December, China must still heed the “deeply profound” lessons of the former Soviet Union, where political rot, ideological heresy and military disloyalty brought down the governing party.

In a province famed for its frenetic capitalism, he demanded a return to traditional Leninist discipline.

“Why did the Soviet Union disintegrate? Why did the Soviet Communist Party collapse? An important reason was that their ideals and convictions wavered,” Xi said, according to a summary of his comments that has circulated among officials but has not been published by the state-run media.

“Finally, all it took was one quiet word from Gorbachev to declare the dissolution of the Soviet Communist Party, and a great party was gone,” the summary quoted Xi as saying.

“In the end nobody was a real man, nobody came out to resist.”

“Everyone is talking about reform, but everyone has a fear of reform,” said Ma Yong, a historian. For party leaders, he added: “The question is: Can society be kept under control while you go forward?” New York Times