Here’s looking at you, Beijing

Wen himself used this "moment of truth" as a chance to further show his reformist tendency. He personally requested the standing committee to put the case on their immediate agenda, a request that has allegedly been accepted. As such, it is rare that a report by a foreign media outlet of that sort has not simply been dismissed as a personal attack, but meticulously analysed by China's leaders. Moreover, as insider voices suggest, it is possible that Wen will use his own case to advance the idea of a mandatory public disclosure of family wealth by senior officials. Such a proposal will be a hard sell, but if seriously considered, might lead to important changes in the way Chinese politics works.

At the end of the day, however, it is all about legitimacy. Wen and perhaps the other senior leaders know that in a country with a growing gap between the rich and the poor, which at the same time is a society that tries to devise socialist order and "harmony", the marriage of wealth and power can cause disillusionment. On the first day of the Congress, the still incumbent general secretary, Hu Jintao, did not miss the opportunity to once again tackle corruption and label it a threat to the stability of the party. As Hu and Wen leave office, the eradication of corruption will remain the main task for the incoming leaders.

The writer is a researcher on Chinese politics, Sino-European affairs and nationalism at the Renmin University of China in Beijing

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