China’s new leader Xi Jinping may focus on making China’s economy freer and creating a more accessible public image.
His visit to Shenzhen, the city that served as the incubator for market reforms over three decades ago, was interpreted as an intentional reaffirmation of his commitment to private enterprise, a commitment directly opposed to the position of his party as evidenced by crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.
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He told a small crowd that China must continue unswervingly on the road to enriching the nation and enriching its citizens and that more reforms were needed.
Xi offered no details on what further reforms would consist of or how he planned to liberalize the economy in the face of industry giants controlled by the state that dominate key sectors.
But the visit was taken as a positive sign by those who say China needs to dismantle state sector monopolies, empower private business, and invest more in social welfare.
Xi also seemed to intentionally distinguish himself from his predecessor, who failed to establish a rapport with the Chinese people and who often appeared awkward in public.
Xi traveled in a minibus without tinted windows, with a minimal police escort, and little disruption of traffic.
It was the first time that police did not close any roads during a visit by a senior government official.
Experts on Chinese policy caution that the government has made similar demonstrations before without taking an substantive action on real reform