Daily Archives: November 13, 2013

The champagne (or, under the circumstances, the apple juice) was chilled. The relevant foreign ministers beckoned. It looked as if all was ready to allow the signing of an interim or limited agreement that would freeze elements of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for a partial relaxation of much of the rest of the world’s economic sanctions. But then things unraveled. Is it time for a new approach, where all parties ditch interim negotiations and jump straight to final-status negotiatiobns? 

Was the outcome of the Third Plenum “unprecedented”, as one member of the standing committee expressed beforehand? Or at least “comprehensively deepening reforms”, as characterised officially? After four days of silence when the only indication that something important was happening was the increased security, the final communique offers both encouragement and uncertainty.

The communique was comprehensive in the tradition of previous statements. Present were both the obligatory homage to the past leadership is there (“the magnificent banner of Socialism with Chinese characteristics”, “Deng Xiaoping Theory”, “the important Three Represents thought”) and the affirmation of the dominant role of the Party. It also managed to mention all the issues without offending any constituency: “establishment of an innovative economy, governing the country according to the law and accelerate the perfection of cultural management.”