Is Wen Jiabao really for Chinese 'democracy'

Discussion in 'Chinese Defence Forum' started by ajtr, Oct 15, 2010.

Share This Page

  1. ajtr
    Offline

    ajtr BANNED

    Joined:
    May 25, 2010
    Messages:
    9,385
    Ratings:
    +0 / 7,661 / -0
    Is Wen Jiabao really for Chinese 'democracy'?


    We all know that Beijing is dedicated to managing the flow of sensitive information in China. Whole websites are dedicated to discerning the government's propaganda strategies and to uncovering the specific stories that Beijing is trying to control.

    But it isn't often that China's own leaders are censored these days--which is exactly what happened to Premier Wen Jiabao last week.

    On Oct. 3, Premier Wen granted an extensive interview to CNN's Fareed Zakaria. During the dialogue (well-worth the half-hour), Wen raised eyebrows by arguing that the Chinese people's "wishes for and needs for democracy and freedom are irresistible." Wen promised that, in pursuing these wishes, "I will not fall in spite of a strong wind and harsh rain, and I will not yield till the last day of my life."

    Wen's comments were covered widely in the Western press. But in China, such coverage was stifled in the days following his remarks. On Oct. 7, the Wall Street Journal reported that there had been "an official news blackout" of the interview.

    Since then, abbreviated versions of it have been popping up in sanctioned Chinese media. The coverage captures the gist of Wen's comments, especially focusing on his four uncontroversial tenets of political reform: "To let everyone lead a happy life with dignity. To let everyone feel safe and secure. To let the society be one with equity and justice. And to let everyone have confidence in the future."

    Contrary to popular perceptions, China's leaders are not outright opposed to political change. Small-scale local elections were initiated in the early 1980s and still happen today, anti-corruption campaigns are unending, and in recent years, party elders have talked publicly and at great length about the importance of intra-party democracy. In other words, more transparent, responsive policymaking and career mobility within the existing Communist party structure are already on the table. In the past year alone, the government has been working to convey a greater responsiveness in handling long-standing grievances like forced housing relocations and is moving toward mandatory public disclosure of the salaries and assets of government officials.

    Wen's comments don't look so controversial in this light. So why would the Party's propaganda mechanism instinctively suppress them?

    One argument I've heard recently is that Chinese government officials are deft at conveying different messages to domestic and foreign audiences. In other words, maybe Wen was telling us just what we wanted to hear. "If Wen wanted his comments covered," a good friend in the U.S. government argued yesterday, "I think it's safe to say they would have been." This seems plausible. All politicians try to tailor their words to fit their respective audiences. But that does not explain why Wen has already spoken publicly, in China, about continued political reforms several times this year.

    Another popular theory is that there is an elite power struggle going on in Beijing, and that Premier Wen is personally working to drive political reform in the face of mighty opposition as he approaches the end of his term in 2012. By this line of thinking, Wen's opponents would have stifled his comments so that the Chinese public wouldn't expect any rapid changes. "Fire's real beauty," as Ray Bradbury wrote in Fahrenheit 451, "is that it destroys responsibility and consequences."

    Perhaps. But it seems more plausible that the immediate stifling and subsequent careful management of Wen's comments simply reflect the transitory political environment in China right now. Keep in mind that Beijing is moving toward an unprecedented leadership transition in 2012. Seven of the top nine members of the Chinese Communist Party will be replaced along with hundreds of lower level Party and government officials.

    We assume that the top leadership beyond 2012 has been generally agreed on (with some exceptions). But there's no question that most officials have strong incentives to avoid controversy in the lead-up to this transition. Any black mark could undermine their chances to get top spots in the next administration, and any perceived weakness could be exploited by rival factions for their own gain. Meanwhile, it will be getting gradually more difficult for the current leadership to mobilize support as different groups in the Party, government, and military coalesce behind their preferred candidates for the top spots in 2012.

    In this tenuous environment, it's no wonder that Beijing's innate response to any talk of difficult political reform is to freeze up. Many in the Chinese government, perhaps including Premier Wen himself, likely do support the idea of political reform in spirit. But many others do not. And the Chinese policy environment does not seem conducive to much compromise between these groups right now. I wouldn't expect much boldness on political reform until we're well past this transitory period.

    Nicholas Consonery is a China analyst at Eurasia Group.
  2. ajtr
    Offline

    ajtr BANNED

    Joined:
    May 25, 2010
    Messages:
    9,385
    Ratings:
    +0 / 7,661 / -0
    Building 'Intra-Party Democracy' in China

    Politburo member Li Yuanchao discusses the Mainland's unique approach to political reform in Part I of an exclusive interview


    I follow Chinese political philosophy, theory, and practice, especially as formulated and implemented by China's senior leaders. I am also on alert for signs and signals of real political reform. I recently went to Beijing to discern the significance of the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the conclave held every five years to establish new policies and promote new leaders. The meeting ended in late October, so enough time has passed for the leaders to assume their new roles.

    Through the State Council Information Office of China, I had a private interview with Li Yuanchao, who was promoted to the politburo after his great success during his five-year term as party secretary of high-output Jiangsu Province. A longtime colleague of CPC General Secretary and China President Hu Jintao from their years together in the Communist Youth League, Minister Li is now head of the CPC's powerful Organization Department of the Central Committee, which appoints senior officials in ministries of the central government and in provincial and municipal governments, and senior executives of China's large state-owned enterprises. Li had just published a provocative, controversial article in People's Daily on "Intra-Party Democracy," which elaborated and extended President Hu's call at the party congress for greater democracy.

    What should we make of Li's call for intra-party democracy? A great deal. The political philosophies of China's senior leaders, their slogans and watchwords, drive current policies and future directions. I take this view, contrary to many Western China watchers who dismiss these aphorisms as "empty rhetoric," because I have seen their potency in predicting China's political trajectory.

    A prime example is President Hu Jintao's "Scientific Development Perspective," which optimizes multiple social, political, and environmental objectives while maintaining economic growth as the primary objective. Added to the Constitution of the CPC at last October's National Party Congress—a major milestone for President Hu—the "Scientific Development Perspective" is the guiding principle for building a "Harmonious Society." It is thereby a benchmark against which high officials are judged.

    SERIOUS SLOGANS, NOT "EMPTY RHETORIC"
    When one speaks to high officials, particularly in the provinces, it is abundantly clear that they take these slogans seriously. These local leaders know their careers will depend on how well they implement these policies (not just talk about them). For example, the "Scientific Development Perspective" sets sustainable development as a critical objective and thus marks the evaluation of senior administrators based on measures of efficiency, such as increasing provincial gross domestic product per unit of energy utilization. (I remember a lackluster meeting with a leader of a western province, which suddenly turned exuberant when I inquired how he was applying President Hu's "Scientific Development Perspective.")

    Similarly, President Hu's approach to a Harmonious Society stresses economic metrics such as balancing disparities between regions, and includes social support, such as improved and widespread medical care, and political reform, particularly the gradual expansion of people's participation in the process of governance. Economic growth is no longer an end in itself but is now rather the mechanism for "Putting People First," another of President Hu's core slogans that wields policy-directing power.

    That political reform is high on the agenda of China's leaders may surprise foreigners, but it follows naturally from "Putting People First" because democracy and individual rights are its natural requirements. This is best expressed currently by another bellwether phrase gaining prominence: "Intra-Party Democracy."

    To understand intra-party democracy is to recognize how China's leaders plan to build democracy throughout Chinese society.Minister Li explained how China's leadership regards intra-party democracy as the cornerstone of political reform because it achieves multiple objectives: it empowers individual party members, increases transparency, subjects higher bodies to the supervision of lower bodies, introduces voting to prevent "arbitrary decision-making," solicits public opinion of candidates, and expands a system of direct elections at local levels. All this would have been unspeakable, unthinkable, until recent years.

    I am convinced that on political reform there is now a major shift in how China's leaders think. The process is nuanced and gradual, of course, but leaders are committed to bring about demonstrable change. There is now a real road map, with steps so specific that it would be awkward for China's leaders not to carry them out. Basically, the plan is this: first, to build democracy in the party, and then to expand it into the general populace. By strengthening intra-party democracy, Li says directly, "we pave the way for the people's democracy."

    A LEADER'S THOUGHT PROCESS
    Li Yuanchao's background and career path are instructive. Born in Jiangsu Province, he attended college and spent his early career in Shanghai. He majored in mathematics and later earned (on the job) a master's degree in economics and a doctoral degree in law. Prior to running Jiangsu, one of China's most powerful and progressive provinces, he worked in both the State Council Information Office, which is responsible for all international communications, and the Ministry of Culture.

    When he was in Jiangsu, he was sent by the Organization Dept. to study at Harvard University in an international training program designed for political leaders. His leadership of Jiangsu was marked by implementing President Hu's "Scientific Development Perspective," where then Party Secretary Li sought social equity by rebalancing incomes and higher quality of life by improving the environment. Both of these goals, he stresses, have to be integrated into the task of achieving the high growth China needs.

    It was evening; Li Yuanchao and I met alone. Only translators were with us in Li's new office building. We focused on political reform and I believe it instructive to hear more of his words than my analysis. Westerners should know how China's senior leaders think, and my objective is to facilitate the exposition and understanding of their way of thinking. To this end, my professional team reviewed Li's quotes, both in English and Chinese, making minor wording changes to sharpen translations and improve clarity.

    This much I can state with confidence: What follows is what China's leaders want to communicate to the world about political reform in their country. They are committing themselves publicly and internationally to these plans and processes, and this alone carries significance.

    In President Hu Jintao's report to the 17th Party Congress he mentioned democracy 61 times. What is the background of this accelerated interest in political reform?

    Although the Chinese people are not as wealthy as Westerners, and China lags behind developed countries in many areas such as technology, social system construction, and environmental protection, the Chinese people as a whole are full of confidence in their own national advancement, the country's development, and its promising future. Looking globally, we can say the enterprising spirit of individual Chinese citizens is outstanding. The Chinese people have an extremely high pioneering spirit and a strong sense of national pride, and we are ambitious to build our socialism with Chinese characteristics. The greatest accomplishment of reform and opening up has been the freeing of people's minds, and the liberalization of our thinking, which have been the driving force behind our country's development in the last 30 years. All this helps develop an environment that leads naturally to political reform and the development of democracy.

    It is more accurate to say that China's reform and opening up began with political ideas rather than with economic policy.The very first step was to eliminate the obstacles of 'leftist' ideas which had constrained people's minds. We call this the 'liberalization of thinking.' This was the starting point of China's reform, and it was initiated and led by the Communist Party and experimented and implemented within the party. China's reform began as political reform in the party (at the third Plenary Session of the 11th Party Congress in 1978), not as economic reform in society as many foreigners may assume, The visionary Deng Xiaoping changed the party's mission from focusing mainly on class struggle to developing the economy and enhancing productivity, and to building a wealthy and stronger country. This was a political change.

    In the last 30 years, we have had many experiments and explorations. Regarding various reform policies during the process, we had revisions, corrections, and amendments. Though there has been spirited debate in the party as to method and pace, in the last 30 years the only reform that no one has raised any objection to is this fundamental change of the party's mission from class struggle to economic development.

    Do you consider democracy a fundamental value?

    Like the majority of the countries in the world, we do agree that democracy is a fundamental political value. Indeed, look at President Hu Jintao's work report to the 17th Party Congress and how many times he mentioned democracy. China has been studying and learning the experiences of other countries in building democracy. However we also believe China's democratic development should cater to its own conditions. Regardless of the political system, the people must decide what is in their own best interests.

    What kind of political system is in the Chinese people's own best interests? What kind of leaders?

    In constructing democracy, we must take into account a country's history and culture. For example, in France, a man may have an open relationship with a mistress and still be elected President. In China, such a man would be barred from holding even a job as chief of a small town. In America, many former presidents were wealthy. In China it's very rare to see wealthy officials. People would first investigate such officials and check the legitimacy of the source of their wealth.

    Historically, in China, we have usually used two words to describe good officials or statesmen: Qing Guan and Fumu Guan. Guan means officials. Qing means honest and upright. These good officials don't have many assets, and don't use power for their personal gain. In the U.S. such a person—that is, a person with minimum assets—might not engender confidence. The second word, Fumu, means acting as if a parent. It implies that officials protect citizens as if they were their own children. In the U.S., if a government official administrates like a parent, he might be considered patronizing or have no sense of rule by law.

    Therefore, to develop optimum political reform we must take into consideration all of China's characteristics, such as its history and culture, and this includes the road along which we have come since the establishment of New China and the beginning of reform and opening up. This is the road we have walked under the guidance of Marxism.

    China's political system may differ from the American system because of each country's different history and developmental model. Even the U.S. and U.K. [Britain] differ from each other for similar reasons. For example, the U.K. has a monarchy, and in the U.S. capital punishment is decided by each state. Hence the American political system should not be used to judge the Chinese political system; it's not realistic and it's not scientific. China has its own ideas and ideals and has every right to choose its own system. We have our own models and goals for political reform, and we will accordingly choose our own roads to reach those goals. We will do what is in the best interests of our people, which certainly includes the development of democracy and the rule of law. Party Secretary General Hu Jintao clearly stated the universal values such as 'advancing democracy and protecting human rights' at the party congress. They are not just values accepted and appreciated in China, but also practiced in reality.

    Most foreigners recognize China's tremendous economic development. Yet our achievement in political reform is equally significant and equally important. For several hundred years before the founding of [the] new China, the Chinese people suffered grievously—first from foreign oppressors and then from domestic warlords. The wars never stopped. However in the last 30 years China has been in the most stable period throughout its history, and China has had more peace than it had had for hundreds of years.

    In Part II of my exclusive interview with politburo member Li Yuanchao we will discuss the need for improvement in China's political system and the specific steps being taken to build intra-party democracy.

    Dr. Robert Lawrence Kuhn, an international investment banker and senior adviser at Citigroup, is a longtime adviser to the Chinese government. He is the co-editor-in-chief of China's Banking and Financial Markets: The Internal Research Report of the Chinese Government and the author of The Man Who Changed China: The Life and Legacy of Jiang Zemin, China's best-selling book in 2005.
  3. ajtr
    Offline

    ajtr BANNED

    Joined:
    May 25, 2010
    Messages:
    9,385
    Ratings:
    +0 / 7,661 / -0
    Wen Jiabao’s Last Stand on Political Reform: Can he do it? Yes he can?


    Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has thrown down the gauntlet. In a fascinating interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, Wen committed himself to fight for political reform, even in the face of what he acknowledges is serious adversity. The interview should lay to rest all the speculation surrounding two speeches Wen delivered over the past six months—one in Beijing and one in Shenzhen—that hinted at a newly energized commitment to political change. After these speeches, no-one seemed quite sure whether Wen was actually saying something new. Given that no-one else in the Politburo is saying anything like this—or has in the past twenty years—I think Wen’s remarks qualify as not just new but pathbreaking. Just look at some of what he had to say to Fareed:

    • I believe freedom of speech is indsispensable for any country, a country in the course of development and a country that has become strong…I often say that we should not only let people have the freedom of speech, we, more importantly, must create conditions to let them criticize the work of the government.
    • I believe and all the Chinese people have such a conviction that China will make continuous progress and the people’s wishes for and needs for democracy and freedom are irresistible.
    • My view is that a political party, after it becomes a ruling party, should be somewhat different from the one when it was struggling for power. All political parties, organizations and all the people should abide by the constitution.
    • In spite of the various discussions and views in the society and in spite of some resistance, I will act in accordance with these ideals unswervingly and advance, within the realm of my capabilities, political restructuring.
    • I will not fall in spite of a strong wind and harsh rain and I will not yield till the last day of my life.
    Of course, Wen’s remarks raise two additional questions. First why is Wen doing this? It seems likely that he is making these statements now because he is nearing the end of his term as Premier. He must retire in 2012, so this is really his last chance to move the political ball forward and to try to ensure a personal political legacy that reflects his true beliefs if not necessarily all his actions over the past thirty or more years.
    Second, what will he actually do? There is a whole range of options here—he could take a stand on moving direct elections up the political hierarchy—something that has been stalled for two decades. He could also push to reverse the Tiananmen decision, following in the footsteps of his mentor Hu Yaobang, who rehabilitated many of the officials who were wronged during the Cultural Revolution. He could take up the cause of individuals whose rights have been abrogated—Liu Xiaobo, whom I discussed in my previous post, could certainly use a friend in the Politburo about now. Finally, Wen could simply continue to speak out on behalf of those throughout the country who support more political change and greater political participation. At the very least, this would lay the groundwork for the next generation of Chinese leaders.
    In the end, Wen’s ability to accomplish anything during his final two years in office will depend on whether others in China’s ruling Politburo will stand behind him and give real force to his words, or whether they will leave Wen to twist in the wind. There’s probably not much reason for Wen to be optimistic on this front.
  4. bigmoneymaker
    Offline

    bigmoneymaker FULL MEMBER

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2009
    Messages:
    455
    Ratings:
    +0 / 182 / -0
    yes many people are doubting it and some even become paranoid。。。。。get your colored eyeglasses on until the day you get shock just like today you unbelievedly see miracles created by this great country。
  5. gpit
    Offline

    gpit SENIOR MEMBER

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2007
    Messages:
    4,413
    Ratings:
    +0 / 3,030 / -0
    Political reform in China must not become westernization of the country.

    China must preserve its distinctness and uniqueness.
  6. Hafizzz
    Offline

    Hafizzz SENIOR MEMBER

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2010
    Messages:
    5,056
    Ratings:
    +0 / 3,457 / -0
    Westernization = giving up yourself and become a slave to the West.
  7. lcloo
    Offline

    lcloo FULL MEMBER

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2010
    Messages:
    905
    Ratings:
    +0 / 774 / -0
    Country:
    Malaysia
    Location:
    Malaysia
    Deng Xiao Ping said " Doesn't matter it is white cat or black cat, as long as it catches mouse". If government delivers, and people are happy, why spoil the harmony with hasty rush?

    China now tends to do thing on steady evolutionary pace, not revolutionary. Too many people and possibly the country gets hurt if things are done on revolutionary pace.

    China should not be another Soviet turning to "democratic" Russia. Russian were cheated by the west, they thought converting to western style democracy overnight would give a rosy future.....
  8. challenger
    Offline

    challenger BANNED

    Joined:
    May 25, 2010
    Messages:
    735
    Ratings:
    +0 / 468 / -0
    This is how CIA works.

    However, inside traitors have been marked.

    Any type of regime change means PRC will lose Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao and all the sea claims. US wants to abolish the legitimacy of China's claims as they are historically Chinese lands. Therefore, the continuation of the current govt of China is the survival of China.

    As Dalai is involved in this trouble making job, the country that is giving shelter to Dalai may have hands in it. Investigation is on its way I guess.