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The View from China
As the Chinese Communist Party purged ambitious Maoist Bo Xilai (see “Week in Review,” 3/17), Premier Wen Jiabao, in his last year, talked about the need for reform at the National People’s Congress. Following are two editorials from government mouthpieces. It’s always important to know what the other side is saying. Personally, I am going to be reading such pieces with more interest all year as I look for clues to future behavior.
Editorial / Global Times
The purity of the Community Party of China (CPC) has reemerged as a political slogan, as top CPC leaders, including Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping, have stressed the issue recently.
A call for purity at a time when the market economy is flourishing is a challenging task. It is unusual by global standards.
Materialism has seeped into every corner of the world. It is extremely hard for a political party to maintain purity in its thoughts and work style. The CPC is probably the only major party worldwide that openly commits itself to such discipline. One sign of this is that banners saying “Serve the People” hang at the entrance of numerous government office buildings.
Political parties in Western countries are created to compete in elections and the winners are rewarded with positions in the government and access to all kinds of benefits. Western society achieves balance through the wrangling over interests among various political parties.
China has a fundamental different political foundation. The CPC’s longtime rule is incompatible with “selfishness.” More than 80 million members of the CPC interact with Chinese society in a variety of ways. It is almost impossible to ask each and every CPC member to strictly abide by the discipline required. However the initiative remains a goal for the CPC as a whole and will serve as a guideline for Chinese politics.
As a political position of the CPC, “Serve the People” sets ceilings for its members in all directions, forming powerful restraints and opening them up to public scrutiny.
Admittedly, Chinese society does not offer perfect conditions for clean governance. The latest initiative by the Party is, in some way, a self-imposed “gamble.” Public trust can easily be lost if the CPC fails to deliver its obligations.
The Chinese public see all the good points of other countries as a reference for their own country, which creates robust drive and huge pressure for advancement.
Chinese society has been upset about its backwardness since the end of the 19th century, leaving little time and chance for political forces in the country to ponder or hesitate before acting.
The CPC has been the only political organization that was able to do so due to its self discipline. The interaction between the CPC and the Chinese society has been successful, contributing to China’s rise.
However, maintaining the CPC’s purity remains an arduous task. The Party has yet to meet the public demands in terms of clean governance. How fast it can purify itself may become crucial for the country’s speed of development.
The purity of the Party is fundamental for the nation’s peace and stability in the long term.
Editorial / China Daily
Premier Wen Jiabao’s faith in confidence and will to act were on full display on Wednesday during his news conference capping the annual session of the National People’s Congress in Beijing.
From forcing down property prices to pushing ahead political reforms, to correcting unfair distribution and creating jobs for US workers, the premier’s prescriptions boil down to a formula of hope for the future.
The personal touch he gave to the news conference, which others may be hard to avoid, was heart-winning and we have to admire his openness, dedication and self-discipline. “Due to incompetent abilities and institutional and other factors, there is still much room for improvement in my work,” he said.
To those worried that the government would be preoccupied by the leadership transfer this year rather than the challenges facing the nation, Wen’s words were reassuring.
His pledge to make up for the imperfections in his work with new accomplishments sounds too modest to those who realize how hard he has toiled. But we appreciate his promise to work like a “yoke-carrying old horse” till the very end of his term of office.
The five tasks Wen and his Cabinet will take on during the remainder of their term – working out a general scheme for income distribution reform, drafting rules on compensation for land requisitions, providing old-age insurance to all, enhancing poverty relief, and guaranteeing the promised 4-percent-of-GDP input in education – will not be easy, but given their necessity for greater fairness and equity, they are legitimate priorities.
Wen’s remarks on the necessity of political reform “to uproot the problems in society and economy” were an impressive follow-up to his previous appeals as well as an inspiring response to society’s calls for meaningful progress down the road of reform.
Many of the country’s current conundrums call for changes, as the premier pointed out, while the economy has developed, new problems have arisen, “including income disparity, lack of credibility and corruption.”
Solving these problems requires political as well as economic reform. But he cautioned that with such a vast population the promoting of a socialist democracy should be done gradually bearing in mind national circumstances.
And many people have come to terms with the need for changes. This is invaluable groundwork for public discourse on a workable scheme for further reforms.
Consensus building will not be easy considering the complex interests involved. But, as Wen warned, there is no way out except by carrying reform forward.
It is about trust, about confidence and about determination.
And with Wen’s words in mind an otherwise difficult year promises to be a hopeful one.
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