China media: Party congress opens

A Chinese paramilitary policeman guards at the Tiananmen Square in Beijing, 07 Nov 2012
Image caption The party congress now under way in Beijing will last for a week

The opening of the 18th Chinese Communist Party National Congress - the start of the leadership transition process - dominates China's newspapers, but reaction from netizens remains muted.

The People's Daily editorial calls for "snatching new socialist victory with Chinese characteristics".

"The exciting achievements made by the CPC [Communist Party of China] over the past decade have demonstrated the superiority and vitality of socialism with Chinese characteristics and laid a solid foundation for building a moderately prosperous society in all respects," the editorial says.

"The ups and downs China has experienced since 1840, the party and the people's struggle and creation over the past 90 years, along with reform and opening up over the past 30 years, have profoundly shown that socialism with Chinese characteristics is a great banner to lead all development and progress in modern China and the only way of rejuvenating the Chinese nation."

China Daily's editorial says: "How the CPC revises its constitution to guide the country in the years ahead, as well as the Party's official responses to the growing concerns about corruption and fairness, will be of utmost importance for achieving the national ideals of an all-round moderately well-off society and social harmony."

And the Global Times' bilingual editorial says: "The CPC is China's ruling party. It has changed the fate of China, and will continue to lead it in the future. Our hopes and wishes rest with the congress."

China Daily and Shanghai Daily report tackling corruption is high on the agenda for this party congress.

Cai Mingzhao, spokesman for the party congress and the newly appointed editor-in-chief of People's Daily, told journalists ahead of the opening session that the party had learned "profound" lessons from "serious corruption cases" involving former highflier Bo Xilai and railway minister Liu Zhijun, the reports say.

Mr Cai said the party will "eliminate all ideological and institutional hurdles in order to forge ahead with political reform", the Global Times reports.

As the congress is to discuss amendments to the party constitution, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post and Ming Pao Daily News say Mr Cai also hinted that President Hu Jintao's "scientific development" theory would become a "guiding principle" in the constitution, alongside Marxism and the theories of Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin.

'Vested interests'

In contrast to the newspapers - and to Wednesday's lively online discussion on the US election - talk about the party congress on weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, seems to be more patchy.

Sina Weibo, the largest weibo operator in China, has not run a special discussion page on the party congress like it did for US election.

A search for the term "18th Party Congress" on Sina Weibo only generates posts from state media like Xinhua and People's Daily but no comments from individual bloggers, implying it has become a censored term.

Many of those who managed to bypass censorship by using alternative terms were unimpressed with the congress.

"The party congress will complete a smooth handover of power and interests, and those with vested interests will continue to expand their existing interests too," says one blogger.

Another blogger jokingly says that he is once again represented by someone he does not know at all.

Media earlier reported that Chinese authorities would step up internet censorship during the party congress, although senior government officials subsequently denied this.

One blogger commented on QQ Weibo, another leading operator, that censors had been very effective, making some of the proxy software he usually used unstable now.

Another blogger expressed unhappiness over difficulties in using Google for scientific research work because of the strict censorship in place.

Some bloggers also complained about their comments being deleted and urged authorities to stop censoring the internet.

Meanwhile, some bloggers criticised the increased security measures in place for the party congress.

Remarking on a picture showing tight security on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, one blogger said that the security detail there should instead be used to defend the disputed Diaoyu islands, also known as Senkaku in Japan.

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