China has new leaders to guide the country though this decade, but these communists are proposing radical changes. Changes that include eliminating boring speeches and red carpets as The Telegraph reports:
Party leaders will no longer be greeted wherever they go with cheering crowds, banners, red carpets and elaborate flower displays, said a statement on Chinese state media after a meeting of the new 25-man Politburo.
The updated rules also ban dull, long speeches and fawning write-ups in the state newspapers, as the party tries to reshape its image.
Who would ever have thought that ridding the world of boring speeches would have been so easy? If there is one thing uniform in the communist world in the last century, it was long, boring speeches. Fidel Castro still holds the record for the longest speech at the UN. The sleep-invoking blather lasted four hours and twenty-nine minutes in 1960. That was just a warm-up for his all-time record of seven hours and ten minutes in 1986.
It doesn’t matter how good the content or charismatic the speaker. After a couple of hours, it’s time to shut it down. At least this guarantees the Chinese won’t be a threat to Castro’s record.
Since China’s rapid development and tons of cash to burn, top Chinese leaders have appeared to be in a competition to outdo the other in decadence. Long ago, they gave up being real communists. They are just another bunch of autocrats. While other autocrats like Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe do not hesitate to live in glamor and opulence, the Chinese are showing they are a bit wiser. They care about their image.
Yao Bo, a former leader writer with the China Daily and now an entrepreneur with over 650,000 followers on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter, said he felt the new leaders “are paying significantly more attention to outside voices.”
He said: “The last generation [of leaders] lived in a small bubble and did not listen to public opinion. I do not know if there will be a substantive political change, but at least the new leaders are striking a different tone.”
He added that local government officials now had a benchmark to govern their behaviour and be judged by.
This is significant. As the Chinese economy slows, and that is already starting, tensions will increase in society. The last thing the leadership needs is for its opulence to rile the masses. Red carpet events or not, China remains a one-party state with limited political freedoms. The real problem for the leadership in the long run is not flower displays or official motorcades creating road closures, it is dealing with an increasing desire by ordinary Chinese to have more control over their political future. China’s new leaders aren’t about to make substantive changes along that line.