After much speculation, it is now official: The Communist Party of China (CPC) will convene its 18th Party Congress in Beijing during the "latter half of this year," a party official announced this week without giving specific dates.
Entrepreneurship and business are rarely accorded a serious place in discussions around drivers of economic development. A cursory look at the numbers makes this seem very surprising. China has pulled approximately 600 million people out of absolute poverty since Deng Xiaoping unleashed market reforms in the late 1970s. Never in human history have so many people been pulled out of grinding poverty is such a short span of time.
The Communist Party of China turned 89 on July 1 with self-congratulations. Speaking at a gathering celebrating the founding of the CPC, Chinese president and Communist party chief Hu Jintao said, "Practice in the past 89 years proved that the CPC has met the expectations of the people." The party, which now boasts of over 78 million members, remains the sole ruling party in the People's Republic, governing the lives of 1.3 billion people.
Soon after the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989, China became a world pariah. Bill Clinton, while campaigning for the U.S. presidency, condemned the country's leadership as the "butchers of Beijing," and the European Union imposed a ban on military sales to China that remains in place today.
China in 1978 was stranded at a political crossroad. It was just emerging from the chaos of the Cultural Revolution and the death of Chairman Mao. Deng Xiaoping had emerged as the new leader, but Mao's dogma remained deep-rooted and seemingly immutable. In and outside the Communist Party, a debate raged: Where to, China?
One man, alone and unarmed, boldly shuffles to confront a column of tanks, climbs atop one, then berates its occupants. For many, this image defined the tumultuous 1989 clash between Chinese armed forces and anti-government protesters.
Chairman Mao might have turned in his grave had he seen the convoy of Ferraris parade by Tiananmen Square, swing under his huge image overhanging the entry to the Forbidden City and roar right past his mausoleum.