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.
William Ide
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

Photogallery US to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Expanded Ebola Effort

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Obama is to announce troop deployment, other details of US plans to fight Ebola outbreak More

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

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: 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.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
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