|VOICE OF AMERICA|
SLUG: 2-319112 China/Jiang (L-O)
TITLE=CHINA/JIANG REACT (L ONLY)
HEADLINES: Power Shift In China Raises Hope of Better Living Standards, But Chinese Do Not Expect Political Reform
INTRO: Chinese President Hu Jintao's accession to full power and the final retirement of former President Jiang Zemin is being hailed as the start of a new era in Chinese politics. But as VOA's Luis Ramirez reports from Beijing, few Chinese expect any fundamental changes in the Communist Party's control of the political system.
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Commuters who gathered at a busy intersection in East Beijing Monday read about the changes in their government in newspapers posted along the sidewalk.
With former President Jiang Zemin's resignation as chairman of the central military commission, they read that Hu Jintao, who already held the posts of president of the republic and chairman of the Communist Party, has smoothly assumed full control of the leadership.
A 24-year-old man who identifies himself only as an office clerk at a large corporation appears surprised when asked what he thinks the changes will mean to him.
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He says he does not believe he is in a position to make judgments on the performance of elder leaders like Jiang Zemin or Hu Jintao. However, he thinks China will develop better now that Hu Jintao has consolidated his leadership.
While giving Mr. Jiang credit for rapid economic development in China, many people are concerned about new problems that prosperity has brought, including rising unemployment, lack of social security and enhanced environmental degradation.
David Zweig is a professor of sociology at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He says that with Mr. Jiang out of the way, President Hu and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao now have the flexibility to make good on promises to tackle those problems.
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"China is rising. It needs a younger, vibrant leadership. It needs new ideas, and.I think that Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao could to a certain extent, take more experiments, sort of be more innovative, be more flexible in policy."
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Many of those surveyed on Monday said they believe it was time for 78-year-old Mr. Jiang to step aside and let a new generation of leaders fully take over.
But nobody interviewed seemed to expect the new generation to relax the party's stranglehold on political power.
President Hu himself, in a speech last week, ruled out instituting a Western-style system of government or allowing direct elections. He said that could lead his nation to,in his words, "a blind alley." (Signed)
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