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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid