Guangdong Leads Calls to Break up “Vested Interests” and Revive Reform

In September 2011, a protest in a Guangdong village threatened to embarrass the province and its party secretary, Wang Yang, who is a candidate for membership on the powerful Politburo Standing Committee when the 18th Party Congress meets later this year. Not only did Wang Yang intervene decisively to defuse tensions, but he also used a plenary session of the provincial party committee to launch an attack on “vested interests” and to call for reviving reform. Guangdong’s outspokenness was quickly echoed in the pages of People’s Daily, scholarly reports, and liberal opinion. The long-term implications are not yet clear, but the revival of reform rhetoric suggests a contentious year of politics as the country heads into the 18th Party Congress.

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