A New Direction (2002)

As China begins the process of approving new leaders, we examine the new-look Communist party and ask where its future lies.

China’s modern Communist Party bears little resemblance to the one which rose to power under Chairman Mao. Its new heroes are the very figures he used to fight. Factory owner Zhang Yue is one of the richest men in China. He was a teacher when the government began encouraging workers to start their own businesses. Now, 10 years on, his business empire has an annual turnover of $200 million. Recently, the Communist Party has even been encouraging entrepreneurs like Zhang Yue to become party members: “We see the private entrepreneur as one of the builders of the country’s socialism.” Embracing capitalism with open arms, the Party still insists it is red to the core. But others beg to differ. Dai Qing grew up in a revolutionary family. She believes the heroes of the Long March would be shocked by what the Party has become: “There is no Communist Party at all. Right now, we only have a corrupt party.” The gap between rich and poor is widening. Corruption is rife and popular discontent is growing. Will the Communist Party’s new “re-vamped” image be enough to save it from extinction?

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