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Why China’s Reform is at Critical Juncture?

Mar 23, 2012
  • Zhou Ruijin

    Former Deputy Editor-in-Chief, People's Daily

When we renew our memory today of the speech made by our late leader Deng Xiaoping during his inspection tour of South China, we should emphasize one key point, namely, establishment of reform as the mainstream value of all Chinese Communists. Starting from this point, we can readily reach common understanding in the following:

1. The modern market economic system is the best choice for the development of our economy.
2. Democracy and rule of law is the political system option to guarantee the lasting political stability of our country.
3. Respect of personal autonomy and initiative is the source of richest vitality for social governance.
4. Modern science and technology is the chief engine driving forward advanced productive forces.
5. Care of people, freedom of thought, diversification of development, and harmonious merger and blending provide the best humane food feeding economic and social development.
Mind emancipation has created the engine powering our reform and opening-up drive. Due to our failure to keep public powers in good rein, however, capital has fattened up on market mechanisms and special interest groups have emerged. Given this development, the in-depth economic restructuring, social reform and administrative system revamp as we are promoting today will differ from those as we carried out 20 or 30 years ago. What we should try to do away with today is not left-leaning ideological conservatism, but the everlasting encroachment by the special interest groups that have emerged from our halfway market-oriented reform. There have been some people trying to block reforms with the leftist stick. What these people are really driving at, however, is nothing else but protection of the monopoly powers or resources kept by certain departments or themselves, or access to an even greater share of national wealth. 
To cut off relations with these interest groups should be a major goal of our present-day efforts in mind emancipation. Whether or not a leading official can take up the important task of reform will be determined by his stand instead of his thinking. It is not so difficult to be clear-headed and open-minded. It is not so easy, however, to choose side between the interest groups and the people, the central government and the socialist system with Chinese characteristics. The question here is whether we can resolutely cut off, through reform, all irrational relations of interests and line them up anew so as to better benefit and empower the people and win greater support from them.
It is rational, for sure, to call for innovation in social management today. There lie ahead, however, quite some hidden obstacles we can never hope to bypass during our course of in-depth reform. We have to well handle issues such as  the control of public power inflations, prevention of special interest groups from formation and growth, reform of the current form of asset revenue distribution to ensure access by all the citizens to the public resources now under the exclusive control of state-owned enterprises, curb of the budding and growth of crony capitalist elements by putting capital under the control of scientific systems, transformation of our administration-oriented finance to one oriented toward people’s livelihood, utmost attention to social equality and justice in distribution, and prevention of social rout through in-depth reforms. 
We have been extremely successful in our economic restructuring, completing by now the framework of a socialist market economy. Next, we will work out scientific and rational operating rules and constantly improve them. We have now come to a crossroads. It allows us no hesitation. We must make a choice now. We will press ahead, through reform, into a socialist market economy ruled by law instead of being abducted by the rich and the powerful into state capitalism.
There is only one way to break system bottlenecks and surmount obstacles in our reform, namely, trust in the people and reliance on the masses. Only when its entire people come to exert themselves will China smoothly sail through its social transformation. Our government should promote well-intended interaction when dealing with people appealing for their interests. The self-organized non-governmental bodies are organs speaking for the interests of the people at the grassroots level. They must be relied upon by governments at all levels as important partners and assistants either today when social stability is of a major government concern or in the future when a small government is installed to serve a big society. Our government should tolerate these non-governmental bodies, and unite and cooperate with them, while boldly disciplining and standardizing them by law.   
Further emancipation of mind and equal attention to social and inner-Party democracy are indispensible for achieving common understanding on reforms. So far as social democracy is concerned, I would like to call for close attention to the role of the Internet in presenting community situations and individual opinions. It should be well exploited to monitor popular sentiment and feelings and keep track of public opinion. Inner-Party democracy should also be further promoted.
Another key point to promote common understanding on reform is to respect the initiatives of local governments. Our future reform needs to be designed at the top level. It also needs top-level tolerance and encouragement for bold implementation by local governments.
Zhou Ruijin is former People's Daily deputy editor-in-chief
Original source: Nanfang Daily
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