• 2006-03-12

    + 保鲜

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    http://www.blogbus.com/newswolf-logs/2042958.html

    轰轰烈烈的保鲜运动都已经搞了一年多了,纽约时报才姗姗来迟报道了一篇。感觉Jim Yardley这篇写的不咋的,关于党员们怎么觉得这是走形式,怎么样的好笑,quote的sources太少,前前后后都引用那个研究生的话,单薄了点。

     China Attacks Its Woes With an Old Party Ritual

    Du Bin for The New York Times

    A display in the Haidian district of Beijing is dedicated to promoting the achievements of Communist Party members as "extraordinary examples" to be studied and emulated.

    BEIJING, March 8 — Like a giant company concerned with organizational disarray and a sinking public image, the Chinese Communist Party is trying to remake itself into an efficient, modern machine. But to do so, it has chosen one of its oldest political tools — a Maoist-style ideological campaign, complete with required study groups.

    For 14 months and counting, the party's 70 million rank-and-file members have been ordered to read speeches by Mao and Deng Xiaoping, as well as the numbing treatise of 17,000-plus words that is the party constitution. Mandatory meetings include sessions where cadres must offer self-criticisms and also criticize everyone else.

    "It is an effort to cope with the declining reputation of the party and the distrust of the people toward party officials," said Wenran Jiang, director of the China Institute at the University of Alberta.

    But many are distinctly uninspired. Jokes have been circulating mocking the study campaign and many party members privately grumble that it is a pointless waste of time. Web sites offer fake essays that cadres can download to meet homework requirements.

    On the surface, the campaign, known as "bao xian," or "preserving the progressiveness," would seem an unlikely modern-day remedy. But in China it is partly a byproduct of a closed political system that ensures Communist Party rule but is without any national elections to force the party to whip itself into shape.

    President Hu Jintao, who is also general secretary of the party, has insisted that every party member complete the program.

    Some analysts say the campaign's primary purpose, besides addressing corruption, is to rebuild grass-roots party organizations that have been falling apart. "The party is not in great shape," said Cheng Li, a specialist in Chinese politics at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. "Loyalty is deteriorating. And the grass-roots organizations are very weak."

    As for the bao xian campaign, Professor Li said, "For Hu Jintao this is better than nothing."

    Requests to attend bao xian meetings were turned down by three different provinces. But conversations with several party members found apathy and annoyance. A Beijing graduate student said he was required to attend four meetings a week from September through December. He said that the self-criticism sessions were awkward, and that most people refrained from making harsh attacks against others. Most people opposed the "rigid form" of the meetings, he said, but added that the sessions provided useful opportunities "for people who are so busy to get together and talk."

    At one meeting, the graduate student said everyone watched a movie about the collapse of the Soviet Union "to show us the 'grave consequences' of losing Communism." The student, fearing reprisals, would only allow his English name, Ben, to be used.

    At a recent news conference about bao xian, Ouyang Song, a vice minister overseeing the campaign, acknowledged that party organizations had atrophied in villages and small towns in recent years, noting that the exodus of migrant workers had diminished the pool of young candidates for party work.

    But Mr. Ouyang said the movement had already resulted in 54,000 new "grass roots" party organizations, while 80,000 cadres had been promoted to leadership positions.

    Asked by a Chinese reporter about complaints over the campaign, Mr. Ouyang said the public had seen the campaign's benefits through the response of party members. As an example, he described a 75-year-old party member who, on completing the study sessions, volunteered to scrub public toilets.

    Not everyone has been so enthusiastic since the campaign began in January of last year. The program has flowed down the party's hierarchy, led by central government ministries and major state-owned enterprises. The third, and final, phase is now under way at village party branches and is to end in June.

    Businessmen have complained of having to reschedule appointments to make time for bao xian meetings. Mr. Jiang, the University of Alberta scholar, said he had led a delegation of Canadian oil and gas executives to an energy conference last year in Beijing. But Chinese energy officials, citing scheduling conflicts with the party study sessions, unexpectedly canceled meetings in which the two sides had planned to talk business.

    "The executives were asking me if this political movement will affect China's way of doing business," Mr. Jiang said. "The Chinese immediately reassured us that it wouldn't."

    Campaigns of this sort are a legacy of the Chinese Communist Party. When he was president, Jiang Zemin initiated study campaigns, including one for his signature "political thought," the Three Represents. More famously, Mao introduced as many as 200 campaigns, from the angry purges that predated the Cultural Revolution era to mass mobilization efforts to exterminate rodents.

    The old-style aspects of the bao xian campaign, like the criticism sessions, have raised concerns by some party members that individuals could be persecuted. Some participants say the campaign has allowed ambitious members to show off in front of their superiors with angry, bombastic displays.

    But others say the meetings have a pro forma quality and focus on decidedly nonideological issues. Ben, the graduate student, said members of his party committee had complained about the food at the school cafeteria. An older party member in Henan Province, Mao Yinduan, said one of the topics discussed during bao xian meetings held by his party branch was lunchtime boozing.

    "He used to like drinking," Mr. Mao said during an interview last year, nodding toward an embarrassed colleague. "But other party members mentioned this in a meeting. Now he has stopped drinking." Then Mr. Mao added: "I used to like drinking, too. People raised that with me and I've stopped."

    Behind the meetings looms the issue of corruption. In February the party's Central Discipline Inspection Commission announced that it disciplined 115,000 party members for corruption in 2005.

    Wang Yicheng, a political scientist with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said corruption and other social problems had shaken public confidence — and the confidence of some party cadres — about whether the party was capable of managing an increasingly chaotic country. He said the sessions were a method of reinforcing the goal of the party.

    "The goal is to raise the quality of party members and strengthen the party organizations to better serve the people," Mr. Wang said. "If these problems inside the party cannot be solved, the ruling position of the party could also be challenged."

    Bao xian has received the praise one might expect from the state media and was listed as one of the most searched phrases on the Chinese Internet last year. But much of that traffic appears to be driven by cadres downloading essays from the Internet to meet homework obligations.

    In a posting last year, a prominent Chinese blogger, Keso, said Web sites and bloggers were using the ideological campaign as a money-making opportunity by offering essays customized to a person's party rank. The head of a street committee, for example, can find a fake self-criticism essay tailored to that job and then tinker with it to make it seem original.

    In a posting last year, Keso wrote: "The Web sites cheat party members, the party members cheat their leaders and the leaders cheat their leaders. So in the end we all cheat the party. This is the comedy of our time." Such cynicism underscores why many experts say efforts like bao xian will have little meaningful impact. In fact, some political analysts speculate that Mr. Hu is using the movement partly as a gesture to ingratiate himself to the older generation of former leaders who remain influential behind the scenes.

    Others contend that the only effective way to improve government efficiency is for the party to embrace political reform to introduce checks and balances in the system rather than depend on periodic mobilization campaigns.

    Ben, the graduate student, said one topic that rarely came up at the meetings was politics and the future of the Communist Party. "It was a difficult topic," he said, "because people have different ideas. The teacher brought it up once. He said he thought the party was facing a grave challenge.

    "I agree with him."

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