Interpreting China’s Third Plenum

July 2015

Xi Jinping’s new reformist approach of 2013 is a close reflection of Deng Xiaoping’s prescription of 1978. The Chinese political leadership is tightening its political grip and loosening economic control. China has a tradition of leadership being an economic rightist and a political leftist at the same time. The thesis of Xi Jinping is based upon the conception that one should not use post-reform history to negate the pre-reform years. It also says that one should not ‘exaggerate’ Mao Zedong’s mistakes but should acknowledge his contributions. China’s president Xi Jinping has assumed the mantle of Deng Xiaoping, who was responsible both for huge economic changes and the Tiananmen Square massacre. The third plenum communiqué epitomises Mao’s thought, based upon socialism, a market economy, the one party system, and dominance of state-owned enterprises. Xi’s openly pro-Maoist tone, his reinforcement of Mao-era slogans and practices such as the ‘rectification’ anti-graft campaign and a ‘mass line’ ideology campaign, as well as the denunciation of Western democratic ideals and the serious attack on government critics, have created fear and anxiety among many liberals.