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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs