From The Associated Press
As Hu Jintao steps down as head of China’s Communist Party after 10 years in power, he’s hearing something unusual for a Chinese leader: sharp criticism.
In media commentaries, think-tank position papers and the less censored blogosphere, Hu’s reign is being portrayed as a missed opportunity to tackle longstanding problems grown more deep-seated, from a yawning rich-poor gulf and worsening environmental degradation to stiffly authoritarian politics. One commentary has referred to the period as a “lost decade.”
“We didn’t realize Hu would turn out to be so conservative,” said Wu Jiaxiang, a former party researcher-turned-businessman and avid blogger, summing up the disappointment of many in China’s chattering classes. He dates his own disappointment with Hu to the closing of liberal-minded websites in 2005.
Some of the criticisms are designed to influence Xi Jinping, who will begin taking over from the technocratic, ultra-reserved 69-year-old Hu at a party congress that opens Thursday.
Mainstream state media, which answer to the party and dominate what most Chinese see, read and hear, have been praising the Hu era, calling it a “Glorious Decade.”