And the results are in! “Socialism with Chinese characteristics” (中国特色社会主义) logged the most number of uses, appearing 52 times in Hu Jintao’s political report to the 17th National Congress. A distance second, “scientific development” (科学发展) racked up 38 appearances. Used a total of 34 times, “opening and reform” (改革开放) finished third, just edging out “harmony” (和谐) at 33.


[ABOVE: Screenshot of news coverage of 17th congress at, October 17, 2007.]

Other words to watch include:

“Deng Xiaoping Theory” (邓小平理论) – 10 appearances
“Three Represents” (三个代表) – 9 appearances

“Socialism with Chinese characteristics” and “opening and reform” are familiar faces. The following graph plots occurrence of these phrases in this and previous party congress reports:


The sharp rise in “Socialism with Chinese characteristics” and “opening and reform” reflects the party’s basic direction for the next five years. It is, first and foremost, a reaffirmation of the path of reform and opening in response to the left’s opposition and call for a turn back. Secondly, it is the striking of a middle path between the socialism of the Mao era on the one hand and clamors from the right for “democratic socialism” (民主社会主义) on the other.
With these two major preconditions in place, Hu Jintao formally ushers out his own banners, “scientific outlook on development” and “harmonious society.” Both of these phrases are about making moderate corrections to the GDP-focused economic reforms of the Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin eras in order to address economic disparities.
Other key buzz phrases offer hints about Hu Jintao’s general path.
“Political reform” (政治体制改革), which appeared seven times in the 16th congress report, appears just five times this year. The term does not appear in the title of a report section head, which has not happened since before the 13th congress. This strongly suggests Hu Jintao plans to avoid the question of political reform altogether and is taking pains to cool public expectations. We’ll talk more about this later on.
As we mentioned yesterday, the position of the “Four Basic Principles” in Hu’s report is of special note. The phrase appeared seven times in Jiang Zemin’s 14th congress report, but dropped to just three times for the 16th congress report. In the five years since the 16th congress use of the phrase has continued to decline. That Hu uses the term four times in this year’s report is a surprising turn.

David Bandurski

CMP Director

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