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Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made news with some reformist statements last week, which were quickly followed by the purging of leftist Communist Party official Bo Xilai. Now, some analysts say that Wen may also be making a statement about one of the most divisive incidents in the Party's recent history.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's speech last Wednesday was a capstone to both a major national meeting, and to a career. He had become known for using the event to push for at least the idea of reform—usually emphasizing gradual change. But did this year's speech, his last, actually serve as a chance to act?
While Wen spoke in the generalized terms that are characteristic of Communist regime leaders, according to the Financial Times newspaper and some other observers, the underlying message was highly suggestive of something almost unthinkable mere weeks ago. Namely, that Wen might attempt to establish a Party re-think of the response to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
While he never mentioned those protests, Wen did make a strong statement about a similarly divisive episode in Chinese history, the Cultural Revolution. Cautioning that the mistakes of that nationwide movement could still be repeated, Wen made an implicit attack on the leftist faction of the Communist Party. This was followed the next day by the sacking of leftist protégé Bo Xilai, Party secretary of Chongqing City.