News / Asia

On Eve of China Congress, Calls for Reform Unanswered

China's Communist Party Chief Xi Jinping speaks to Vice Premier Li Keqiang, presidium of the first session of the 12th National People's Congress, Beijing, March 4, 2013.
China's Communist Party Chief Xi Jinping speaks to Vice Premier Li Keqiang, presidium of the first session of the 12th National People's Congress, Beijing, March 4, 2013.
Shannon Van Sant
This week, China opens its annual National People’s Congress to mark the end of the leadership transition.
 
While some of China's leaders have hinted at the need for political reform, in January, many of the country's leading academics openly called for democratic change.
 
A day before the Congress opens, however, there are few signs of substantive reforms. When asked about the potential for change under President Xi Jinping, a spokeswoman for the National People’s Congress instead spoke of the success of China’s model for development, echoing commentary by Fu Ying, the country's vice foreign minister.
 
"It is inaccurate and unfair to say that China's style of political reform is not political reform whenever it does not follow in the footsteps of other countries," said Fu, explaining that, in her visits to developed countries with problems more complex than China's, officials are largely spared public calls for reform.
 
"In fact, the problems they are facing are more difficult in some cases, and yet no one is asking them to change their political system," she said.
 
Prime Minister Wen Jiabao broached the topic of political reform at last year’s Congress meeting, when he warned that, without meaningful political reform, tragedies such as the Cultural Revolution could recur.
 
In January, 100 of China’s leading scholars, journalists and activists signed a petition calling for the country’s constitution to be implemented, which they say would mean an independent judiciary and lifting controls on the Internet, independent organizations and the news media.
 
Just one month earlier, incoming President Xi Jinping hinted that the party may lose power if it fails to enact political changes. His December trip to Shenzhen, one of the first Chinese cities to embrace capitalism, was perceived by many as an indication of his desire for greater economic liberalization.
 
Documentary filmmaker Ai Xiaoming says expectations are high for change under China’s new leadership.
 
"There is a very intense call for change in China," Ai said. "People tend to have great hopes when new leaders assume power, no matter who the leader is, and there is hope the new leaders will break away from the burdens of their predecessors."
 
Signs of change may come during the next 10 days, when advocates of reform could be appointed to some of China’s top leadership posts. However, skeptics say China’s rapid economic development has created entrenched interest groups, tied to China’s state-owned enterprises, which will aim to block meaningful reform.
 
"Chinese cannot have faith for change to come from their political leaders, who live outside the problems many suffer in the country," said Ai. "These leaders drink water especially provided for them; their families do not even live in China anymore, and when these leaders assemble they leave all problems and criticisms at the door."
 
Many point to the success of China’s market-based economic reforms in years past as partly responsible for the growing calls for political change. With unrest about land seizures and environmental problems in many parts of the country, protesters say political change is needed to address the inequalities created by rapid economic development.

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Tim from: UK
March 05, 2013 7:50 AM
I couldn't believe my eyes when the 60 minutes article began. There is no solution. You have a corrupt government that needs to keep people working. So a few smart guys and gals hook up with their bankers and CEOs in Wall Street and begin to lay out a plan to construct something very pretty and very big - kind of like Texans only these egos are BIGGER. The payoffs and jobs keep everyone happy except for the general populace. In ten years (or sooner, estimate 2020) there will be a "connected American revolution” with smartphones and urban, suburban and rurals all working together to overthrow the fat cats in Wall Street and Congress just like in Animal Farm, forgot what happens when people no longer fear you.


by: walkerrussellc from: USA
March 04, 2013 5:02 PM
I couldn't believe my eyes when the 60 minutes article began. There is no solution. You have a corrupt government that needs to keep people working. So a few smart guys and gals hook up with their party-pals in the Communist regime and begin to lay out a plan to construct something very pretty and very big - kind of like Texans only these egos are BIGGER. The payoffs and jobs keep everyone happy except for the general populace. In ten years (or sooner, estimate 2020) there will be a "connected Chinese revolution” with smartphones and urban, suburban and rurals all working together to overthrow the fat cats in the Party that just like in Animal Farm, forgot what happens when people no longer fear you.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid