Party conference season, Beijing-style

Forgetting rugby for a moment, all eyes are on China this week as the 17th Communist Party Congress kicks off. The Guardian carries a story highlighting the lack of transparency and the curious mix of capitalism and socialism that is Chinas ideology. The Indie highlights a yet-more-negative comment from spokesman Li Dongsheng, that China Will never copy the model of the Western political system." Will Hutton, writing in the Observer, describes the Party Congress as the biggest political event this autumn and holds out hope that it will choose a future leader who could be its Gorbachev and send the country on a path to reform.

Reform is certainly still needed. The crackdown on reporting and protest ahead of the Party Congress has reportedly been tougher than ever, and anyone who speaks out about human rights in China whether it is in the streets, online or even in the courts does so at massive risk.

Earlier this month we highlighted

Of course, Chinas increasing global influence means that its foreign policy is of as much interest as its domestic policy these days. Signing up to the global condemnation of the Burmese governments crackdown against protesters was a positive step, but whether China will go further is uncertain. Weve been calling for the UN to slap an embargo on all arms sales to Burma, a call that Gordon Brown is incorporating into his here.

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