Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Postponing the Inevitable

My prediction a few days ago was correct. There had been hopes that after 23 retired senior Chinese officials sent a strongly-worded letter urging political reform, and in particular a more independent media on the mainland, that this would inspire the Communist Party to loosen its grip on power at the plenum that just ended Monday.
But that was only wishful thinking.
A communique issued at the end of the plenum made only one passing reference to political reform, that the party would make "active but steady" efforts to promote "political restructuring" -- without elaborating.
It was a very strong sign that the government was not interested in entertaining any thoughts of diluting its power.
So what to make of Premier Wen Jiabao's statements in late August and later in an interview with Fareed Zakaria on CNN, and making the cover of Time magazine, reiterating that China needed to take the path of political reform to catch up with the economic reforms?
Turns out those were only Wen's personal comments, and he had no consensus of the leadership as a whole in this matter.
So was Wen just trying to get more brownie points from the West? Or was he floating out a trial balloon to see what others would think?
Unfortunately that balloon sank like lead and got no where.
And now with Xi Jinping practically confirmed as China's next leader, someone who doesn't have much of a leadership base, he will be desperate to tow the party line for at least the first few years to establish his power base. And as a member of the 'princeling' group, he will be even more adverse to change, as he and these children of senior officials are benefiting economically and politically from the current arrangement.
One had hoped that by awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo that it would put more pressure to change from within, but the leadership was adamant that outside forces would not influence its decisions.
However, analysts believe time is of the essence and the leadership needs to make changes now in order to maintain stability in the country.
"It is imperative now, more than ever, to push forward political restructuring to protect healthy growth from widespread corruption, mismanagement and malpractice," said Zhang Ming, a professor of political science at Renmin University.
He added that decades of market-driven growth without political reform led to what he called "state capitalism".
Liu Kang at Duke University echoed Zhang's comments. "China right now is at its most volatile moment since the 1989 Tiananmen events, as mounting disparity and social injustice with unprecedented media exposure are threatening the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party's rule," Liu said.
"But no consensus can be reached in Zhongnanhai concerning political and ideological reforms that can address the problems effectively."
It has come to this -- the people within are going to have to force the leadership's hand in reforming the political system.
And that will be a day of reckoning.

1 comment:

  1. a single hand cannot clap, that is what wen jiabao is like. hopefully with the new princelings in the leadership role the day of reckoning will come. poor liu has to wait in prison for a while yet.