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Top Chinese Lawmaker Rejects Calls for Political Reform

  • Peter Simpson

After a year of cracking down on dissenters, China's ruling Communist Party has told its members it will never copy Western democracies.

The second-highest ranking official in China's ruling Communist Party, Wu Bangguo, has dismissed appeals to shake up the country's political system.

He says that Beijing will continue on what he describes as the "socialist path of political development with Chinese characteristics".

Wu says the country's communist system is uniquely suited to China - and declares the party will never simply copy the system of Western countries.

Wu made the comments Tuesday to the National People's Congress, China's relatively powerless legislative body. They were not made widely available until Wednesday.

Such rebuffs are considered normal by China's leaders and if anything Wu's speech was less robust than his previous rejections of political reform.

Experts on Chinese politics suggest this is because dissenting voices have been effectively silenced during a crackdown over the past year, and the Communist Party feels less threatened.

A year ago, Wu and other leaders were rattled by the growing number of voices calling for radical reform.

Among them was Liu Xiaobo, the main drafter of Charter 08, a paper arguing for sweeping political changes that garnered widespread support.

He was jailed for more than 11 years in December.

Several other activists have also been jailed in the past year.

Wu did, however, address the concerns of millions of Chinese angry over the corrupt legal system and injustices in the social security law, which has helped create a potentially unstable wealth gap.

Wu says NPC delegates will put the final touches on draft social security legislation, and make adjustments to the legal system to, as he says "dispel the people's worries and better maintain social harmony and stability."