China: the numbers game Without changing the system, President Xi Jinping cannot guarantee the economic growth he needs A Faustian pact exists between the leadership of China and its people. It goes like this: we see to it that there is food in your bellies and that your lives improve from year to year. In return, you leave the governing to us. There is little contradiction in the eyes of the Chinese Communist party between the current crackdown on journalists, lawyers and human rights activists, and a heavily advertised central committee meeting next Saturday in which the ground rules for economic reforms could be discussed. In the former, "western forces hostile to China and within the country are still constantly infiltrating the ideological sphere", according to Document No 9, issued by the central committee in April. In the latter, ideas as western as government transparency, attracting private investment into utilities and incentives to reward the commercial development of land could be discussed. Going under another number â€“ Plan 383 â€“ it's a product of the same machine. For any survivor of the Long March, much of what happens now â€“ in his name â€“ must be anathema. No one can deny that President Xi Jinping is in control. The presence in jail of Bo Xilai and countless other disgraced party officials, some linked to past leaders and rival factions, attests to that. But neither can Mr Xi's credentials as a bold reformer yet be discounted as hype. He himself has set expectations running high of what to expect next weekend when the third plenum of the 18th central committee meets. He told Barack Obama that the coming session would be the most important for China since the one Deng Xiaoping presided over in 1978, which heralded the opening up of the Chinese economy. It will contain, he has promised, not only a "master plan" but a "profound revolution". The sort of things to look for are: broader access to, and fairer allocation of, capital; banks with more private-sector participation, and the ability to set their own interest rates; state-owned enterprises that are more commercial and accountable; and liberalised energy prices. The bigger question which lies behind each of these measures is how far Mr Xi is prepared as party leader to curtail the party's own grip on power, through state-owned banks, local government and companies controlled by the government, to stimulate this reform. For both sides of China's grand bargain are under attack. The party's ability to deliver growth is being challenged as never before. And the people, half of whom live in cities, are not as ready as they were to keep their heads down. They have questions to ask of top party cadres who send their children to be educated abroad. The hourly joust on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, between user and censor is just one sign of the ferment beneath the surface. Without changing the system, Mr Xi cannot guarantee the economic growth he needs to meet the growing needs of this vast industrial society. And yet each of these reforms could erode the stability that underpins one-party rule. Delay is no longer an option. China's output expanded transformatively from 2002 to 2012, but it can no longer rely on giant public works. Even though it is projected to rise by 6.5% a year, the economy can no longer grow its way out of danger. Rising labour costs at home and weaker overseas consumer demand for the workshop of the world both point in the same direction. And yet going down that path could have political consequences. The rest of the world will have to wait a long time before the CPC willingly abandons its monopoly on power. But nothing stops experiments in intra-party democracy â€“ in local elections, in making local government more transparent and accountable, or in giving more influence to the eight other democratic parties, which are minute, but still allowed to function. It's a balancing act. Mr Xi is no Mikhail Gorbachev. Indeed, the former Soviet leader is regarded by the Chinese as an object lesson in what not to do. But the opportunity for Mr Xi to make his mark is there to be seized. How he does so will determine the future of the world's fastest-rising power. China: the numbers game | Editorial | Comment is free | The Guardian *********************************************************************** The concept that delights the Chinese is so long as the Govt sees to it that there is food in their bellies, money in their pockets and the illusion that their lives improve from year to year, they must be impervious to all the ills of the govt and in return, with kowtowing reverence, leave the governing to Communist neo Sultans and princelings and their cronies. Document No 9, issued by the central committee in April states that "western forces hostile to China and within the country are still constantly infiltrating the ideological sphere". How so? If the CPC's neo Communist ideology is that wnderbar, as is claimed, then where is the chance of western forces hostile to China and within the country are still constantly infiltrating the ideological sphere"? In short, the CCP's ideology is teetering, shaky and on very unsound foundations bolstered by Orwellian 'Double Think'! The bigger question which lies behind each of these measures is how far Mr Xi is prepared as party leader to curtail the party's own grip on power, through state-owned banks, local government and companies controlled by the government, to stimulate this reform. Can he? I wonder! Power is an elixir and in the CCP who have to watch your back. Bo Xilai would testify to the same as would many others. Xi cannot guarantee the economic growth he needs to meet the growing needs of this vast industrial society. And yet each of these reforms could erode the stability that underpins one-party rule. A dilemma. Would be rise to the occasion?