China's incoming president Xi Jinping has warned the country's military that they should draw lessons from the collapse of the communist regime in the former Soviet Union—a warning that analysts call a sign of a growing sense of crisis among the new leadership.
In a speech ahead of the closing session of annual parliamentary sessions in Beijing, he warned delegates from the People's Liberation Army (PLA) that the military should avoid the mistakes made by Soviet military commanders and remain loyal to the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
His speech came as the newly appointed head of the parliamentary advisory body, Yu Zhengsheng, said China will never pursue Western-style political reforms, sparking frustration among some commentators online.
"I wish there were more officials who told the truth," wrote user @tongxuejiang on the popular Sina Weibo microblogging service. "All this talk of China's special circumstances and Chinese characteristics is nothing but official 'gobbledegook.'"
Shanghai-based author Li Huaping said China's ruling class was obviously worried about maintaining its grip on power.
"They have learned from the collapse of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe how to avoid collapse, which means increasing control over the military and over ideology, as well as over officials," he said.
"But they haven't bothered to reflect that the root causes of [that] collapse lay in the anti-human system perpetrated by communism."
Anhui-based political activist Li Wenge said China's "special circumstances" would be best addressed by a more accountable form of government, however.
"Look at China's air and water quality, food safety [problems]; they are the worst seen so far in human history," Li said.
He hit out at Xi's recent attacks on the concept of "universal values" of democracy and the rule of law.
"Humanity is the same everywhere," he said. "The West has already made a success of the separation of powers and a democratic system, and this is the heartfelt wish of the [Chinese] people, too."
But he said China's special interest groups who hold the most power are unlikely to precipitate such change on their own.
Call for reform
Meanwhile, commentator Shi Ying wrote on the Democracy China website in support of recent calls for a democratic system with respect for human rights and the rule of law, as well as for the release of jailed Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo and other prisoners of conscience.
"There is no sign whatsoever that the Chinese government is going to implement any political reform," he wrote.
Xi had told the PLA on Monday that they would "be victorious" only if they accept control by the Party.
Li said recent talk of "reforms to the system" were an attempt to mollify growing public anger over official corruption and environment pollution, rather than a serious program of change.
Shanghai-based author Li Huaping agreed.
"There is a sense among the ruling classes right now that they are in crisis," Li Huaping said. "It is very worrying that the country is being ruled by empty speech and lies."
"There is no sense of security at all."
He said the Party is highly likely to face challenges similar to those in Libya or Syria if it continues as before.
"People can only take so much more of this," he said.
The finalization of China's leadership under president-in-waiting Xi Jinping and incoming premier Li Keqiang began at the National People's Congress (NPC) on Tuesday with the tabling of a candidate list by the presidium, the Global Times newspaper reported.
Reported by Xin Lin for RFA's Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.