Change becomes a hot word in China after leadership transition

A Chinese woman is reflected off the glass cabinet where the Communist Party logo is seen on a billboard for the 18th Communist Party Congress displayed in an alleyway in Beijing, Nov. 16. Xi Jinping assumes the leadership of China at a time when the Communist Party is confronting slower economic growth, a public clamor to end corruption and demands for change. Photo: AP

Four years after Barack Obama’s “Change we can believe in”, it is China’s turn to talk about change.

Both in and out of China, speculation about what the new leadership of China should or could do for the country and its people are mounting. Foreign media’s interest is generally focused on the possibility of political reform in China while the Chinese media remains purposefully obscure and cautious on all change-related topics. However, on China’s most popular cyber social platform Weibo, the Chinese people are sounding off on what change they would like to see in the next ten years.

One of the best and most popular posts about “Change in China” is posted by a Weibo user “Liu Shengjun reform”. He had ten items in his list which he named his ten big wishes for the next ten years:

  1. Never have to buy formula from overseas;
  2. Be able to buy safe food from big supermarkets;
  3. White-collars won’t become house-slaves;
  4. Pollution stops worsening;
  5. Rich-poor divide stops widening;
  6. Entrepreneurs won’t be busy emigrating;
  7. The number of “bare” officials decreasing;
  8. Stock market reverse its role from money gatherer to value-maker;
  9. People won’t have to “Compete Daddy” but rely on equal opportunities instead;
  10. Making progress in restraining public rights

Reactions to his post vary. Though many applauded his well-chosen list of top social problems in China, even more people expressed their doubt about these problems being dealt with any time soon. One Weibo user even ridiculed it as “mission impossible”.

Other Weibo fans added to the list things such as: lower the price of medical care; making schools easily accessible for all children; creating more jobs, etc.

All these sound like an echo of Xi Jinping’s speech on November 15 where he mentioned the Chinese people’s wishes for their lives. Xi promised that these are what they, meaning him and the new leadership, will “fight for”.

Such talk, as keen observers pointed out on Weibo, missing from Hu Jintao’s first speech after he was elected party leader ten years ago, is already a positive change.

As for the actual changes, ones that affect the lives of every Chinese, whether or not they could be believed in remains to be seen. Hopefully soon, the Chinese can also say as the Americans did four years ago: Yes, we can.

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