Majority of Chinese back political reforms

Discussion in 'China' started by ajtr, Nov 2, 2010.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Majority of Chinese back political reforms, says report

    An overwhelming majority of Chinese support political reforms to match China's economic success, amid signs of official resistance to end the monopoly of the Communist party in the country's politics.

    Nearly eight out of 10 Chinese, who took part in a national poll said they believe China should stay on the path of political reform while according top priority to stability to avert a collapse similar to that of the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1991.

    Significantly, the survey focused on political reform was conducted by the Global Poll Centre under the state-run Global Times, which is one of the organs of the People's Daily, the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party.

    Since the founding of the People's Republic in 1949, China's Communist Party has monopolised political power. The polls assumed significance as the People's Daily in its editorial few days ago came out strongly against political reforms, saying the idea that China's political reform is seriously lagging its remarkable economic development and achievements is contrary to objective facts.

    Political change can't have "pompous and empty slogans," it said. It was interpreted by some as open opposition to Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's recent calls for political reforms to back up the economic restructuring, dumping the erstwhile state-run-socialist economic system. Wen said economic gains faced the danger of loosing out if they were not backed by political reforms. He, however, has not outlined what he meant by political reform, whether it meant permitting multi-party democracy.

    The campaign for political reform also gathered momentum after the recent award of Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, the jailed Chinese dissident campaigning for democracy in China. Several senior Communist Party activists and academics called for lifting of censorship to expand the scope of free media in the country.

    The poll conducted in Beijing [ Images ], Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Changsha, Xi'an and Shenyang from October 28 to 31, which is prominently featured in the Global Times, said a total of 78.4 per cent of the 1,327 respondents supported further political reform and just five per cent expressed an opposite opinion.

    Another 16.7 per cent of respondents said they had no strong opinion on the subject. In terms of the goal of political reform, both items -creating a democratic political system with Chinese characteristics and exploring development - were supported by more than 50 per cent of the people. Only 15.5 per cent felt a Western democratic political system should be implemented.

    Zhang Weiwei, a professor at the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations, said he was pleased with the public's mental maturity when it comes to policies. "Incremental promotion, experiments and accumulation are three effective weapons China used in the past during economic reform, which can also be applied to the political reform," Zhang said.

    Nearly 70 per cent of those polled were against the "Total Westernization" and 68.9 per cent argued that stability should be a priority. The lessons of the former Soviet Union, which collapsed in 1991, were mentioned by 36.5 per cent of respondents during the poll. Also, more than a quarter warned against delaying reform out of fear it could harm stability.

    Zhang Shuhua, a political researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, noted that a foundation in law and culture would help pave the way for better political reform and the opposite could delay solutions for the country's social problems. "Total westernisation is by no means a choice for us. Even western societies recognise that China's political model has enriched the world's political development patterns," Zhang added. "China should have political confidence." Two issues - reducing the wealth gap between the rich and the poor to realise social justice and erasing corruption - were identified as the most urgent practical problems that need a solution by 79.2 per cent and 73.9 per cent respectively.

    Four other problems - ensuring democratic rights, transparency of party affairs, stronger laws and expanding grassroots democracy - were popular with more than 60 per cent of the respondents. Zhang Weiwei believes that these problems could be solved through political reform and legal methods. Some 63.9 per cent felt that China carried out political reforms to some extent in the past three decades and 26.9 per cent felt that only economic reform was clear during the past 30 years.

    K J M Varma in Beijing
  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
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    Paper rejects reform call, chides Wen


    Beijing, Oct. 28: China’s main Communist Party newspaper bluntly rejected calls for speedier political reform yesterday, publishing a front-page commentary that said any changes in China’s political system should not emulate western democracies, but “consolidate the party’s leadership so that the party commands the overall situation”.

    The opinion article in People’s Daily, signed with what appeared to be a pseudonym, appeared at least obliquely aimed at Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. He has argued in speeches and media interviews that China’s economic progress threatens to stall without systemic reforms, such as an independent judiciary, greater oversight of government by the media and improvements in China’s sharply limited form of elections.

    It also may have been directed at countering recent demands for democratic reforms by Chinese liberal intellectuals and Communist Party elders, spurred in part by Wen’s remarks and timed to this month’s award of the Nobel Peace Prize to an imprisoned Chinese democracy advocate, Liu Xiaobo.

    Wen’s comments have fuelled a debate among analysts over whether he is advocating western-style changes in China’s governing system or merely calling for more openness inside the ruling Communist Party.

    Yesterday’s commentary, which closely followed the ruling party’s annual planning session, ran to 1,800 words and delved into topics only occasionally discussed in the state media.

    The article emphatically repeated past declarations that changes modelled on American or European political systems were inappropriate for China. It also appeared to directly reject Wen’s warning that economic progress and political reforms were inseparably linked.

    “The idea that China’s political reform is seriously lagging behind its remarkable economic development is not only contrary to the law of objectivity but also to the objective facts,” it stated.

    It later added: “In promoting political reform, we shouldn’t copy the western political system model; shouldn’t engage in something like multiparty coalition government or separation of powers among the executive, legislative and judicial branches. We should stick to our own way.”

    A Chinese political historian who asked not to be named in discussing the issue said: “Obviously, this is a criticism of Wen.” He later qualified his remark, saying the editorial amounted to “a sideways swipe”, noting that Wen was not explicitly named.

    Still, the notion of a link is bolstered by a leaked October 19 directive from Communist Party censors that ordered Internet sites and news organisations to delete all references to a recent interview of Wen by CNN. In that September 23 interview, Wen said that “the people’s wishes for and needs for democracy and freedom are irresistible”.

    Wen has made similar statements in previous years, and the party’s more conservative majority has appeared to bristle. In 2007, after Wen publicly embraced “universal values” like human rights, the state-controlled press reacted with what seemed nationalistic vigour, and the term has since become taboo.

    Some analysts said yesterday that the party’s brusque reaction this time points to a growing debate over the future direction of China’s political system.

    “It does appear to be a direct swipe at Wen’s statements,” David Shambaugh, who heads the China Policy Programme at George Washington University in Washington, said in an email. “It is more evidence of a division of views within higher levels of the party on the scope and pace of ‘democratic’ reform.”

    Still unclear, he said, is what democratic reform means to members of the party hierarchy. Publicly, at least, virtually all debate on democracy in party journals and speeches has been limited to ways of making the party bureaucracy more responsive to ordinary citizens rather than giving those citizens a direct voice.

    A Beijing scholar of the leadership, Russell Leigh Moses, called the editorial “a reminder to cadres that the party will set the tone and terms of the debate on political reform”.

    Within the system, some are sceptical that hints of a split amount to much.

    New York Times

    China is still not ready for drastic political reforms.

    While there would be many who would prefer the public interactivity to have more say in the matter of governance, yet to radically change the system could start a rolling stone that would be hard to control, leading to chaos. China cannot afford to have chaos at this turning point of Chinese nationhood.

    They are addressing the issues slowly and the CCP would not like to lose control of the events.

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