In response to Xi Jinping’s 习近平 call on officials to ‘roll up sleeves and just do it’, People’s Tribune, a People’s Daily subsidiary magazine devoted to major policy issues, conducted two surveys on morale within the state, one among scholars and officials, the other among the public. The second survey finds a majority agreeing that the officialdom is not as energetic and bold in seizing initiatives as expected, contributing to loss of momentum of the reform agenda, while over half of people believe officials are working under tremendous pressure, and thus cannot do more.

To relieve officials of undue pressure and provide more incentives to deliver better performance, People’s Tribune argues the Party must

  • identify those who actively agree with the Chinese political system and bring them into the system
  • provide higher salary and better welfare benefits to maintain the ‘stability of the civil service staff’
  • put in place a mechanism to give immunity to ‘tactical mistakes’ in the reform process, to send an encouraging signal to officials aspiring to lead reform causes

Note: the suggestions above were widely discussed after the Third Plenum; their reoccurrence implies the Party has made little progress in injecting reform enthusiasm into its apparatus.