“Education through labor” (劳教) has been the fate of many people in China since the 1950s: confinement to a labor camp to be reformed through hard work. The system is still very much in operation in China today, with more than 60,00 people apparently still confined in labor camps. Anyone can be sent to a labor camp for any kind of offense. Social society attempts to have the system reformed have in the last decade all been rebuffed.
Until yesterday. Xi Jinping, about to take the reins of government in China, yesterday made a somewhat passionate statement unequivocally calling for an end to “education through labor.” Today, China’s newspapers are full of portentous words such as “new era”, “complying with the interests of the people”, “fair justice for all”, “resolutely opposing unfair law enforcement and corruption”, “improving people’s safety and happiness”, and “the rule of law”.
The rhetoric is almost breath-taking. For now these are only words, yet you have to hand it to Xi Jinping, what words! Intending to capture the true essence of Xi’s momentous statements, the front page of the Sanxiang City Express (三湘都市报) from Hunan province today proclaims the end of the labor camp in China with the headline “Education through labor: 1957-2013″, along with a simple design of a wall broken through, a great barrier breached.
The message today is loud and clear – “No halt in opening up, no stopping reform”:
China’s newspapers today are in a festive mood because China is forging ahead with reform, and there’s no better way to ram the message home than with an inspection tour to Guangdong province in the south by Xi Jinping, China’s newly anointed leader, in imitation of the celebrated 1992 pro-reform Southern Tour of then-leader Deng Xiaoping. On a hill in Shenzhen close to a statue of Deng, Xi spoke passionately of the need to continue reform and opening up in China, and himself brandished a shovel to plant a few banyan seeds in a move symbolic of the new breakthroughs he intends to cultivate from the reform heritage left by Deng. Read more
Xi Jinping has the biggest and most ubiquitous picture on the front pages of China’s newspapers today, signifying that he is now in charge, unlike yesterday when Hu Jintao’s picture was still all over the front pages. With the new seven-member Politburo Standing Committee meeting the media yesterday, there’s only one headline worth having in China today: Xi Jinping becomes CPC Central Committee General-secretary and Central Military Committee chairperson. A few newspapers even deigned to describe Xi Jinping’s elevation as a near-messianic event. The City Evening News (城市晚报) from Jilin province, for example, put large pictures of Xi and the other six members of the new Standing Committee on its front page next to a headline reading “New start, new expectations, new era” (新起点 新期盼 新时代). Yet while many newspapers hailed a new era, various others opted to place a picture of Hu Jintao shaking hands with Xi Jinping on their front pages, signifying the peaceful and stable passing of the mantle.
Amazingly, a very small number of newspapers even neglected to report the story on their front pages at all. Read more
This is the Danwei Week, a summary of the most important China stories from the last seven days. Read more
The front page of today’s People’s Daily features the headline, “Use practical acts to maintain reform, development and stability.” The article says the majority of party members, cadres and the masses strongly support the CPC Central Committee’s decision to discipline Bo Xilai and launch and investigation against him.