China: Time for Change?

  • Share
  • Read Later
BEIJING: What a difference eight years can make: The new central committee elected by China's Communist Party Thursday is filled with young faces, typically sympathetic to the 1989 Tiananmen Square student demonstrators who were fired upon by the army, reports TIME Beijing Bureau Chief Jaime Florcruz. But, he says, it will take at least another five years for these technocrats old enough to have witnessed the Cultural Revolution but too young to have fought in the 1949 Civil War to usher in a truly new era, once the last of the hard-line octogenarians are out of power.

In the meantime, they will use economics to make change, but not necessarily progress. The new party leadership's support for scaling back state-owned businesses is increasing unemployment with no safety net for displaced workers. Florcruz reports that while many of the downsized are retrained for new jobs, others end up washing cars or, in the bleak factory-driven Northern economy, "standing on street corners and wandering the parks."