Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Calling for Change

In the last few days three Chinese state media outlets have called for political reform following the scandal around former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai's downfall.

The People's Daily, overseen by the Communist Party of China, Xinhua news agency, run directly by the State Council, and China Youth Daily, run by the Communist Youth League that trains future leaders, are all calling for political reform.

China analysts believe these recent developments indicate the country's top leaders have come to a consensus on the issue, the biggest scandal to rock the government since June 1989.

"It is surely a concerted action ordered by the top leadership, which has also revealed that they, or a majority of them have reached some consensus on the need for political reform following Bo Xilai's case," said Professor Hu Xindou, a political commentator at Beijing Institute of Technology.

The People's Daily published four articles, each written by different think-tanks, including the Central Party School. Xinhua and China Youth Daily published similar commentaries.

The opinion pieces did not call for Western-style political reform such as democracy and freedom of the press, but they acknowledged China was at a crossroads and urgently needed comprehensive restructuring of its systems, including political.

One People's Daily commentary had a headline that said only reform would secure China's future. It called for "deepening political reform and ensuring that the people are the masters [of the country]".

Meanwhile Xinhua said China's reform had reached a stage similar to "assaulting fortified positions", while China Youth Daily said reform should be "of the people, by the people and for the people", echoing former US President Abraham Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address.

What exactly does Chinese state media and these think-tanks have in mind when they say political reforms and that they be "for the people"?

If they are only talking in terms of theory, not many changes will be made.

Bo's sacking and the current investigation into him and his wife not only in the alleged links with Briton Neil Heywood's murder, but also their apparent attempts to move large amounts of money abroad and how their families financially benefited from their connections have created non-stop buzz in China.

They were taking advantage of the system because there aren't enough checks and balances in place.

Only when there is a free press and rule of law that is independent of the government can there be accountability of corruption.

But since the Communist Party of China believes it is the only legitimate ruler of the country, things will never change.

However below them the people are grumbling, seeing their hard-earned tax dollars end up in corrupt government officials' pockets.

The complaints will only get louder and louder...

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