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

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop illegal money flow from continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development 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.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid