Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post published an editorial on August 21 pointing to serious challenges facing China's leaders, in realms ranging from diplomacy, to internal politics, the economy, and larger social issues.
While these areas have long been an important focus for Chinese authorities, the Post claimed that recent developments have made the challenges even greater. These developments include the intensified conflict with Asian neighbors over territory like the Diaoyu islands and the South China Sea, an ongoing economic slowdown, and the apparent political struggle over the ousted politician Bo Xilai.
It's a refrain that's rarely been repeated in media outside of the Chinese Mainland reporting on the upcoming power transition, during China's 18th Communist Party Congress this fall.
Chinese Communist Party-affiliated media, in reporting on the Party Congress, have largely adopted editorial angles such as “18th Party Congress representatives elected transparently and publicly," or by highlighting the way the new leadership will represent a robust reform agenda. Yet, despite calls by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao for increased reform efforts, the specifics of any such plans have not been forthcoming.
Political commentator and editor-in-chief of the "Beijing Spring" magazine, Hu Ping, views any systematic political reform as being very unlikely—and the current emphasis on "reform" in Chinese media as being mostly an attempt to disguise, and prolong, the Communist Party's iron grip on political power.
Hu Ping: "Now the Party as a group, from top to bottom, are corrupted to such an extent, not to mention the past debts the Party owes to the people, including the June 4th incident. After that came the Falun Gong persecution, then the suppression of human rights activists, and so on. So, if they open the system, a large number of CCP officials will be liquidated, considering their economic corruption, not to mention their political misdeeds."
As an example of underwhelming reform efforts, dissident political commentators like Hu have pointed to the Party's treatment of ousted Communist Party up-and-comer Bo Xilai. While Bo was prevented from rising any further in the Party hierarchy, the case remains shrouded in secrecy. It's unclear whether Bo, or others in his hardliner faction who have enforced rights-violating policies will ever face public exposure or legal consequences, for the lives lost and abuses suffered under their rule.