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

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

Ninety percent of homes in one small village were damaged or destroyed as government forces failed to stop a rebel advance More

Pakistan’s 'Last Self-Declared Jew' Attacked, Detained

Argument about the rights of non-Muslims in Pakistan allegedly results in mob beating well-known Jewish Pakistani More

Turkey Cracks Down on Political Dissent, Again

People daring to engage in political dissent ahead of upcoming general elections could find themselves in jail 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.
In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobanii
X
Mahmoud Bali
March 06, 2015 8:43 PM
Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobani

Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

In the village of Nikishino, in eastern Ukraine, recent fighting has brought utter devastation. Ninety percent of the houses are damaged or destroyed after government forces tried and failed to stop rebels advancing on the strategically important town of Debaltseve nearby. Patrick Wells reports for VOA from Nikishino.
Video

Video Crime Scenes Re-Created in 3-D Visualization

Police and prosecutors sometimes resort to re-creations of crime scenes in order to better understand the interaction of all participants in complicated cases. A Swiss institute says advanced virtual reality technology can be used for quality re-creations of events at the moment of the crime. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More