Xiâ€™s public, private faces - New leader demands return to Leninist discipline Hong Kong, Feb. 15: When Chinaâ€™s new leader, Xi Jinping, visited the countryâ€™s south to promote himself before the public as an audacious reformer following in the footsteps of Deng Xiaoping, he had another message to deliver to Communist Party officials behind closed doors. Despite decades of heady economic growth, Xi told party insiders during a visit to Guangdong province in December, China must still heed the â€œdeeply profoundâ€ lessons of the former Soviet Union, where political rot, ideological heresy and military disloyalty brought down the governing party. In a province famed for its frenetic capitalism, he demanded a return to traditional Leninist discipline. â€œWhy did the Soviet Union disintegrate? Why did the Soviet Communist Party collapse? An important reason was that their ideals and convictions wavered,â€ Xi said, according to a summary of his comments that has circulated among officials but has not been published by the state-run news media. â€œFinally, all it took was one quiet word from Gorbachev to declare the dissolution of the Soviet Communist Party, and a great party was gone,â€ the summary quoted Xi as saying. â€œIn the end nobody was a real man, nobody came out to resist.â€ In Xiâ€™s first three months as Chinaâ€™s top leader, he has gyrated between defending the partyâ€™s absolute hold on power and vowing a fundamental assault on entrenched interests of the party elite that fuel corruption. How to balance those goals presents a quandary to Xi, whose agenda could easily be undermined by rival leaders determined to protect their own bailiwicks and on guard against anything that weakens the partyâ€™s authority, insiders and analysts say. â€œEveryone is talking about reform, but in fact everyone has a fear of reform,â€ said Ma Yong, a historian at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. For party leaders, he added: â€œThe question is: Can society be kept under control while you go forward? Thatâ€™s the test.â€ Gao Yu, a former journalist and independent commentator, was the first to reveal Xiâ€™s comments, doing so on a blog. Three insiders, who were shown copies by officials or editors at state newspapers, confirmed their authenticity, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the risk of punishment for discussing party affairs. The tension between embracing change and defending top-down party power has been an abiding theme in China since Deng set the country on its economic transformation in the late 1970s. But Xi has come to power at a time when such strains are especially acute, and the pressure of public expectations for greater official accountability is growing, amplified by millions of participants in online forums. Xi has promised determined efforts to deal with Chinaâ€™s persistent problems, including official corruption and the chasm between rich and poor. He has also sought a sunnier image, doing away with some of the intimidating security that swaddled his predecessor, Hu Jintao, and demanding that official banquets be replaced by plainer fare called â€œfour dishes and a soupâ€. Yet Xiâ€™s remarks on the lessons of the Soviet Union, as well as warnings in the state news media, betray a fear that Chinaâ€™s strains could overwhelm the party, especially if vows of change founder because of political sclerosis and opposition from privileged interest groups like state-owned conglomerates. Already this year, public outcries over censorship at a popular newspaper and choking pollution in Beijing have given the new party leadership a taste of those pressures. Some progressive voices are urging Chinaâ€™s leaders to pay more than lip service to respecting rights and limits on party power promised by the Constitution. Meanwhile, some old-school Leftists hail Xi as a muscular nationalist who will go further than his predecessors in asserting Chinaâ€™s territorial claims. The choices facing Chinaâ€™s new leadership include how much to relax the stateâ€™s continuing grip on the commanding heights of the economy and how far to take promises to fight corruption â€” a step that could alienate powerful officials and their families. â€œHow can the ruling party ensure its standing during a period of flux?â€ asked Ding Dong, a current affairs commentator in Beijing. â€œThatâ€™s truly a real challenge, and itâ€™s creating a sense of tension and latent crisis inside the party.â€ NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE Xi’s public, private faces ******************************************* A pragmatic chap. He is on the right lines - four dishes and a soup! The quantity is not material though! He is absolutely spot on that China must still heed the â€œdeeply profoundâ€ lessons of the former Soviet Union, where political rot, ideological heresy and military disloyalty brought down the governing party. In a province famed for its frenetic capitalism, he demanded a return to traditional Leninist discipline. He is wise to remember that an important reason for the collapse of the Soviet Union was that their ideals and convictions wavered. He is aware that unbridled greed and open society as in Democracies can cause great turmoil in a country that is just about given a wee leeway from its Maoist shackles but he knows it is essential to continue the partyâ€™s absolute hold on power and vowing a fundamental assault on entrenched interests of the party elite that fuel corruption. But it is the princelings and the State Communist hacks and apparatchiks who are the real corrupt people of China. Can he upset this crony capitalism and upset their nest eggs? There lies the reality of his effort.