At China Elections and Governance, Yawei Liu, head of the China program at the Carter Center, has an interesting read on CCP legitimacy and Wen Jiabao’s (self-serving) suggestion that even top leaders are helpless in the face of increasingly entrenched interests.
The mere fact that the Wen argument is self-serving, however, doesn’t invalidate the point:
Lastly, while there are unmistakable signs that the CCP legitimacy is weakening and that the people are becoming more intolerant of secrecy in personnel arrangements and manipulation of the press, the top is still driving the political process and can make and enforce decisions on personnel and other issues. Any talk of an imminent meltdown of the CCP control is wishful and unfounded. Nonetheless, politics as usual has been riddled with bullets. One of the shooters is Wen Jiabao himself. His admission of helplessness and lack of achievements in the political reform sector and his attribution of these failures to being constrained by the special interest groups, unreasonable governance system, and Cultural Revolution mentality has sounded the death knell for those who champion the Beijing Consensus. His declaration that China’s economic reform cannot be sustained without political reform may force the Party to pay more attention to the timetable and action plan of political reform.