This next week is going to be a big deal for politics in China, the start of the 19th Party Congress. But to give a touch of perspective, we would say the impact of the congress on the lives of ordinary people, and on the media with which ordinary people interface, is probably less pronounced than in any previous similar event.
That seems counter-intuitive, but it springs from a sense that interest in the doings at that level has plummeted. The “meibanfa” psychology is more firmly in control than ever, and is of course encouraged. Also, the broad masses now have many choices for how to kill time beyond watching newscasts showing leaders earnestly working to stay awake at mass meetings. Again, intentional.
This congress is of course crucial to the future of China and how it runs. The division of power between various groups, the management of the economy and of foreign policy – we will be getting strong messages that will be worth paying serious china-watching attention to. But how much will ordinary Chinese people be paying attention? Not much, we would say.
Building a sense of inevitability is a key part of the strategy, both domestically and internationally. It is truly a privilege to be able to watch this process and try to figure our where it goes. Meanwhile, keep your eye on Guo Wengui. Whether or not he has what he has said he has, and whether he releases it – we still don’t know. But next week is the right time if he plans to do anything, and the plans for scrubbing instantly from all corners of the Chinese online world anything that he puts out will be for sure by now fixed and loaded. The stakes are as high as they are in Washington. Have a good weekend!