Hu's colloquialism delivers unambiguous message

Updated: 2012-11-09 19:45

BEIJING - A colloquial expression used by President Hu Jintao that previously bewildered translators became more explicit when he used it in a solemn political report delivered at a twice-a-decade key meeting of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on Thursday.

The expression "bu zhe teng", which literally means "not to turn from side to side" or "not to do something over and over again," stirred debate among translators three years ago when Hu used it at an assembly marking the 30th anniversary of the country's reform and opening-up drive.

However, it required little interpretation when Hu used it Thursday in the context of demonstrating the Party's unswerving conviction to uphold socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Hu's report also dispelled predictions made by some China observers who were interested in the presumed removal of a late leader's philosophy from the Party's doctrine.

With an increasingly important economic and political role, the world's second largest economy and most populous country has always been a global agenda.

Observers have been busy guessing what might come out of the ongoing 18th CPC National Congress, when the CPC would chart a road map of China for the next five years or longer and elect a new leadership.

Some happenings this year, such as the scandal of Bo Xilai, a former member of the Party's leading organ, the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, contributed to the uncertainty theory.

Hu's report, however, was an unambiguous message that ruled out the possibility of a policy waver, as Hu vowed reform under the banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Observers' guesses, in a sense, showed their lack of understanding regarding China. They also reflected expectations for something "big" to happen at a moment when the country is standing at crossroads and the world is witnessing economic and political turmoils elsewhere.

It's true that the ruling party is confronted with challenges, including corruption and widening wealth gaps, as the president acknowledged in his report.

The problems may lead to discontent and even protests, but as Professor Xie Chuntao with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee noted, the very acknowledgement of the challenges in the political report demonstrates the Party's confidence to solve these problems.

"The Party is well aware of the possible perils and is courageous enough to acknowledge and stand up to problems. That is a demonstration of self-confidence," Xie said.

The contemporary political term "wei wen," or "maintaining stability," may be helpful in understanding why "bu zhe teng" is important in Chinese political culture.

Stability is not literally a synonym of certainty, but instability is regarded as a threat to certainty. While the Chinese authorities have taken stability as a priority in governance, the general public also believes that instability brings nothing good.

Therefore, stability acts as a common ground where the authorities and the public can find a consensus. Balance will be maintained as long as the Party can solve problems and endeavor to work for the well-being of the people.

Economic pressure is another factor that some observers have cited, especially in the business sphere. Worries about China's economy have existed since the global financial crisis broke out years ago, but China has survived and maintained momentum for global economic recovery.

The CPC has taken economic development as its core mission since the landmark third plenum of its 11th Central Committee more than 30 years ago, when it decided to launch the reform and opening-up drive.

The words of US financier Stephen Schwarzman may serve as a straightforward interpretation of the CPC's core mission.

He said during a forum held in Beijing last month that he believes the current slowdown of the Chinese economy will not continue for long, as the government would not allow that, according to the Century Weekly, a financial and economic magazine.

Hu was applauded on Thursday when he called on the Party to have "every confidence in our path, in our theories and in our system."

He was echoed by Vice-President Xi Jinping, who said, when joining panel discussions of Shanghai delegates, that the congress has declared in a simple and explicit manner which banner the CPC will hold, which path it will take, which ideological state it will maintain and which goals it is trying to achieve.