There is a fascinating new concept out there in Chinese
politics right now – the "New Left". They take their cue to some
extent from the New Left in the West, partly from the leftist positions of old
is a victim of globalization. The government is selling China out by
letting foreign banks buy stakes in the state-owned banks. China should take a tough line on Japan and on Taiwan. China should boost its military
strength so it will not be bullied by the foreign devils. The state enterprises
should be strengthened, not shrunk. Public challenges to the party in the media
should be vigorously dealt with. The entrepreneurs are being mollycoddled and
the needs of the ordinary people are being neglected.
This is really the first time since the late 1980s that
Chinese politics has seen a clear ideological split, and it clarifies Hu Jintao’s
role by implication. If the “New Left” is in opposition to his policies, then
he must be a liberal reformer.
Hu is concerned and he is taking measures to deflect the New
Left. Appeasement, selective measures to counter criticism etc. But the main
thrust of his policies – reform – appears to be unwavering.
All this is highly unlikely to be the precursor of a
blow-out such as the one that ended the debate between reformers and a version
of the New Left in 1989. China
has changed. One difference is that hardly anyone cares about politics anymore.
“All the new bourgeoisie in Beijing are
interested in talking about is sex and trips to Bali,”
one friend told me.