By David Bandurski — When Chinese President Hu Jintao delivered a speech Thursday morning in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People to honor the thirtieth anniversary of economic reforms in the country, his words pointed to a leftward shift in Chinese politics — a possible reaction in part against the recent Charter 08, a manifesto signed by prominent Chinese intellectuals calling for broad political reform.

According to our preliminary analysis of Hu’s speech, more left-trending keywords like “socialism”, “Marx” and the “Four Basic Principles” were prominent in Thursday’s speech — noticeably more so than in Hu’s 17th Congress address last year.

Here are a few keywords whose overall use Thursday surpassed that of Hu’s 17th National Congress speech, which was in fact 10,000 words longer than Thursday’s 18,000 words.

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[SWCC = “Socialism with Chinese characteristics”]

More moderate terms, such as “democratic politics” and “intraparty democracy” were less prominent.

Perhaps more importantly, a number of erstwhile Jiang Zemin terms made an unexpected return.

Toward the beginning of his speech, Hu Jintao resurrected the Jiang-era notion of “westernization and separatism”, the idea that hostile Western forces aim to co-opt Chinese and weaken China by exploiting territorial tensions (Taiwan, Tibet, etc.).

In another section of his speech, dealing with institutional reforms as a guarantee for further development, Hu Jintao resurrected the xenophobic Jiang-era phrase “[We must] never copy,” referring to the political and economic models of the West.

Terms we were on the lookout for ahead of last year’s 17th National Congress but which never materialized, including “constitutionalism”, “civil society” and “citizen’s rights”, were absent from Thursday’s speech as well.

FURTHER READING:
Wuyouzhixiang PK Wen Jiabao,” ESWN, December 21, 2008

[Posted by David Bandurski, December 20, 2008, 1:09am HK]