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BEIJING -- The bookshelves of Chinese state leaders are sometimes a source of curiosity for ordinary readers to understand their personal interests or possible policy orientations.
"The Old Regime and the Revolution," an 1856 treatise written by French political thinker Alexis de Tocqueville, is the latest work to be scrutinized by netizens after rumors spread that the book is among those read by China's central leaders.
The previous favorite was Marcus Aurelius's "Meditation," which became a bestseller after Premier Wen Jiabao quoted it twice during his second term.
"My old boss in Zhongnanhai (the seat of the central government) recommended Tocqueville's book, adding that a modernizing heavyweight like China cannot expect roses all the way; it should brace for a rough ride," wrote economist Hua Sheng on Tencent, a popular microblogging site.
Calls for the kind of continuous reform advocated by Tocqueville have elicited a warm response online.
"Tocqueville tries to prove that if social reforms are not in lockstep with economic reforms, a 'middle income trap' could cause a real crisis," wrote economist Xu Xiaonian on Sina Weibo, another popular microblogging site.
Reform is one of the biggest tasks being tackled by the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), scheduled to begin on Nov. 8, as many are concerned that reform is losing steam after 30 years of progress.
The widening income gap has proved to be a particularly thorny issue, with netizens calling for investigations into conspicuously affluent officials and bringing cases of extreme poverty into the spotlight.