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Guess who’s in town? Xi Jinping re-creating Deng Xiaoping’s “Southern Tour”

Posted: 12/7/2012 10:39 am

Photo from the SCMP

For those of us living in Shenzhen, we understand how Deng Xiaoping is revered in these parts.  It was back in 1992, in the shadow of a particular “counter-revolutionary” riot in a square-which-must-not-be-named, when then paramount-leader Deng Xiaoping flew to Shenzhen to ignite the capitalist fire and set China on the path to deepening economic reforms.  Since then, Shenzhen has stood as a testament to Deng’s vision and a model of China’s economic prowess.

There has been some question about China’s way forward during Hu Jintao’s years, with some (like disgraced Chongqing head Bo Xilai) yearning for a return to leftist politics, Red Books, and Mao Zedong-style sloganeering.  Xi Jinping, the newly-minted General Secretary of the Communist Party and soon-to-be President of the PRC, appears to be taking a different tack: by showing his commitment to deeper reforms.

Xi is making his first domestic trip as General Secretary to Shenzhen today, in what the South China Morning Post (behind a paywall) says harkens back to Deng’s famous visit in 1992:

Zhang Lifan, a political analyst formerly with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Xi was trying to demonstrate he was a legitimate successor to the spirit of reform advocated by Deng and his father.

“Hu Jintao chose Xibaipo as the destination of his first trip, the red headquarters of the Communist Party and the People’s Liberation Army in the late 1940s before the communists came to power,” Zhang said.

“New leaders always want to emphasise and connect themselves with some glorious image from the past. But I don’t think Shenzhen and Guangdong have done a good job in terms of reform in recent years.”

In the three weeks since he assumed the party’s helm, Xi has been trying to present a reformist image, including banning empty talk by officials and excessive pomp for tours. He has also cut back on the use of party jargon when giving public speeches.

Prepare for strict security in parts of Shenzhen today, and in Guangzhou and Zhuhai over the weekend.

Xi is visiting the Yunong fishing village in Luohu before heading up to Shekou, where he’ll visit some factories and swing by the new Qianhai development zone.

Then he’s off to Guangzhou and Zhuhai, two other key economic zones in China.

If you’re doing business in the PRD – or China generally – Xi Jinping’s own “Southern Tour” is probably good news.  It likely indicates Xi’s strong commitment to business, economic development, and reform.

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