Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Analysis: China\'s absent political reforms worry many

(Reuters) - China\'s Communist Party has vowed ambitious changes on all fronts except the one -- its vast power -- that worried scholars, officials and even Premier Wen Jiabao call the biggest threat to long-term growth and stability.

It is a choice that shows the ruling party\'s confidence that it holds the country\'s future surely in its grip; it is also an absence some warn could come back to rattle that grip.

Party leaders emerged from a four-day meeting on Monday to present their plan for transforming the world\'s second biggest economy over the next half-decade, focusing on boosting income and spending power for millions. Even for a policy wish list, the few words on reforming government were hazy.

\"Political reform was never on the table,\" said Wu Jiaxiang, a former aide to Chinese central leaders.

\"Wen Jiabao may favor political reform, but he\'s just the premier in charge of the economy. Political reform is something the Standing Committee would have to all agree on, and they\'re really not interested.\"

The Standing Committee is the Party\'s nine-member ruling inner circle, which includes Wen and President Hu Jintao.

Yet quite a few of China\'s own officials and intellectuals fear something may go awry without firmer steps to rein in Party power. Such warnings do not just come from foreigners.

They see a dangerous complacency that could sap growth through unchecked power, and magnify public ire about official corruption and privilege and home evictions that sometimes erupt in protests, petitions and self-immolations.

\"Without political reform the fruits of economic reform will be lost,\" Yu Jianrong, a social researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said in a recent talk in Beijing.

He urged changes starting at grassroots government and giving courts a measure of independence from local party bosses.

\"China\'s rapid economic growth is like Latin America\'s in the past, when there was a failure there to establish government based on fairness and justice, democracy and rule of law, and the rapid growth ended in social turmoil and unrest,\" Yu said.

Premier Wen, who survived the ousting of his reformist boss Zhao Ziyang after the pro-democracy movement was crushed in 1989, sticks out as the one senior official who has echoed the warnings, even if he has not spelled out what changes he favors.

In a succession of comments, Wen has said the government must rein in abuses or risk sacrificing the gains of growth to \"regression and stagnation.\"

Wen is in the final stretch of his time in office, and he lacks a factional following in the elite that could give his calls a wider currency.

The emerging successors to Wen and President Hu have kept their policy cards close to their chests. Hu\'s likely successor, Xi Jinping, appears to favor more forthright leadership.

News From: http://www.7StarNews.com

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