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A Chinese window opening?

On the cover of Southern Windows 11 August issue, a highbrow Chinese biweekly with a circulation of 500 000, there is an illustration of law textbooks and a teacher with a wooden pointer giving instruction to a businessman and a government official. The caption reads, “Rule of Law Starts with Limitation of Power.” This may sound dull to us but it is remarkable in
China.

The paper was addressing the need to curtail the Party’s all-pervasive reach and to allow the Chinese people some ‘wiggle room’. Southern Window has been publishing stories with headlines such as, “When Administrative Power Obstructs the Law” and “Putting Boxing Gloves on Police Powers.”

Could this be the firing of the opening salvo in a debate that is now opening. Will Party hardliners, with renewed confidence after the highly successful Games, continue to tighten their grip on power? Or will the spirit of civic activism that arose from relief efforts after the May earthquake in Sichuan be revived? Could reform-minded Party officials — like those who approved the publication of Southern Window‘s special issue — gain ground in their drive to ease control over areas such as the courts and the media? (see TIME for the full story)

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