News / Asia

China Reform Summit Fails to Deliver for Some

China Reform Summit Fails to Deliver for Somei
X
November 13, 2013 5:31 PM
China's Communist Party has given the Chinese public and the world a glimpse of the type of social and economic reforms that could be coming soon to the world's second largest economy. But following a closed four-day meeting in Beijing, the initial response to the government's plan has been somewhat muted and skeptical, with some noting the blueprint’s lack of specifics. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
China's Communist Party has unveiled a glimpse of highly anticipated social and economic reforms for the world's second largest economy.

But following a closed-door meeting in Beijing, the initial response to the government's plan has been muted, partly because of the blueprint’s lack of specifics. Official summaries of the plan say it calls for a greater role for the free market in the state-controlled economy, as well as other “comprehensively deepening reforms.”

But there are few details about what those changes mean, how they will improve the lives of millions of Chinese and halt the widening gap between rich and poor.

Over the past three decades, China has lifted millions out of poverty as migrant workers moved from the countryside to big cities. But many believe that economic model must now be modified, to make Chinese businesses more globally competitive and its citizens better able to afford basic necessities.

Basic needs

Many Chinese struggle with finding affordable housing, health care and education. Beijing residents say they want to hear more specifics about how the government plan will improve their lives.

Miss Zhang who came to Beijing to work, says housing is a key issue for her and others.

“Many of us who work in Beijing can’t afford to live in a decent home because the rent is rising everyday,” Zhang said. "I wish the plenum would deal with the real problems we now have.”

Another resident surnamed Ji, who works for multinational company in Beijing, said housing prices and pollution were more pressing issues for him.

“These issues are at the heart of our daily lives. Big political ideas and policy pronouncements are not that relevant to the general public,” he said.

Market to play “decisive role”

In its communiqué, the government pledged to give markets a “decisive role” in the economy, which state media explains was a significant improvement from its previous designation of playing a “core role.” However, the focus on such subtle nuances failed to impress some.

On China’s social media websites, many welcomed the announced steps, but there were also those looking for more. Wang Dongya, a magazine editor, said that although he had high expectations for the plenum, it lacked substantial reforms in finance, taxes and supervision.

Lawyer Duan Wanjin said that he was disappointed in the few details revealed about reforming state-owned enterprises.

Another remarked that there was little difference between the current party meeting and the one held over three decades ago in 1978 when Deng Xiaoping began China's "reform and opening up" policy. The biggest difference between that meeting and this one, the user said, was the use of the word "deepening."

But Cai Jiming, an economist at Beijing's Tsinghua University says much like the reforms that Deng launched more than three decades ago, the current round of changes will require time to adjust laws and overcome the opposition of those with vested interests.

“The public would like to see a great leap forward in pushing reforms. Some even think that reforms can happen overnight,” Cai said. “However, reform in China can only come step by step.”

Market priority or state-owned enterprises

Some have already begun to note one big apparent contradiction in the government’s plan - its pledge to give the market more sway while also boosting the public sector.

State-owned enterprises are given subsidies, cheap loans from state-owned banks. Economists argue that private companies could use that capital more efficiently.

Cai said that from his perspective the government wants state-owned enterprises to compete more with private industry and that eventually the market will determine whether they succeed or fail.

Government officials have suggested that reforms could be made to allow private enterprises to invest in state run companies to help them diversify. But no formal announcement on that has been made yet.

Cai said one way to level the playing field a little more would be to require that state-owned companies give more money back to the government.

“Right now, state-owned enterprises hand in as little as 10 percent of their revenues after tax. I think they should increase that percentage in the future,” Cai said.

Internal struggle over reforms

However, some analysts say the lack of detail in the report does not necessarily mean that the leadership is not prepared to push forward. In some cases, it may be a sign that the top leadership has yet to win broader support within the party for reforms.

Legal scholar He Jiahong says that in the case of judicial reform the public’s increasing demands for more justice and the Internet is helping to promote reform, but ultimately politicians will set the pace.

“I would like the reform to be realized sooner, but from the perspective of politicians the most important thing is still for society to keep stable, because if you reform too fast then there will be instabilities in society,” he said.

Willy Lam, a political scientist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, says that while President Xi has once again signaled his commitment to reform, allowing the market to have more sway and creating a more level playing field will take much longer than anticipated because of vested interests within the government.

“Many of the sons and daughters of the top officials as well as a number of former senior cadres are involved in these huge state owned conglomerates, so it is unlikely that these holders of vested interests will be willing to surrender their monopolistic power,” Lam said.

Security council, reform commission

Two specific items in the communiqué have drawn special scrutiny: a new state security council and a commission to promote reforms.

The state security council, analysts say, was created to help address what the Chinese leadership sees as growing domestic and external security threats such as social unrest, terrorism and territorial disputes.

Lam said that the organization is likely to ensure there is no challenge to the Communist Party's control on power.

The state security council “will incorporate the military, state security, police and other forces to ensure [against] what the administration perceives as the efforts by hostile foreign forces, usually a reference to the U.S., stirring up trouble in China, promoting a so-called color revolution in China,” Lam said.

He adds that such a development does not bode well for China's civil society.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Wangchuk from: NYC
November 15, 2013 10:02 AM
According to the PRC, there are over 100,000 protests in China every year. Many Chinese are upset over corruption officials, abuse, pollution, & CCP policies. Tibetans & Uighurs chafe under colonial rule. The reaction to this by the CCP is to strengthen the police state & further erode civil rights. The CCP's biggest concern today is maintaining power. If the economy tanks, people will revolt & the CCP be overthrown.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs