The National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s parliament, on Monday endorsed the country’s 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) for National Economic and Social Development. Highlighting political reform at the conclusion of the National’s People’s Congress in the Great Hall of the people, Premier Wen Jiabao said that the measures would be taken to improve the political framework of the nation.
“I believe reform is an eternal theme of history. Political restructuring and economic restructuring should be advanced in a coordinated way,” Mr. Wen said, speaking to reporters following the conclusion of the 10-day annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s top legislative body.
“Nothing in this world stays immutable, and it is only with reform that we can ensure continuous existence and growth,” he said. “Political restructuring offers a guarantee for our economic restructuring endeavour. Without political restructuring, economic restructuring would not succeed, and the achievements we have made…may be lost.”
Thought it wasn’t specified how or what kind of political reform will be undertaken, after 30 years of implementing and reaping the fruits of economic reform, political reform was on the cards. Having seeing the instability and disruption caused in Russia by a communist nation implementing political reform ahead of economic reform, China had long ago concluded that economic reform followed by political would lead to a harmonious developed society. Therefore, in tandem with its long term objective, Premier Wen officially announced China’s intention for political reform.
For China, the 12th Five-Year Plan period is crucial to building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and critical to deepening the reform and opening up and accelerating the transformation of the economic growth pattern. Included in the plan is also a better framework for improved livelihood and education, health care, social security and housing sector reforms.
Experts in deciphering China’s plans from its ambiguous statements claim that by political reform the premier means creating a better society, improving social standards and social security of the people, however the change would be “gradual”, “orderly”, and “under the leadership of the party”. Premier Wen who also makes once in a year public displays to the foreign media also hinted at making government officials more accountable to the people and opening up channels for direct interaction between the people and government officials.
Identifying corruption and inflation as the two biggest evils affecting the rich fabric of China, Premier Wen also said that a more direct, grassroots approach for officials would be implemented, so that with a ear to the ground, government officials would be able to make better decisions that would change society for the better.
“To eliminate the breeding ground of corruption, we should pursue institutional reforms,” the Premiere said. “If we are to address the people’s grievances and meet their wishes, we must create conditions for the people to criticise and supervise the government.”
He said China would follow a “gradual” and “step-by-step” approach to expand “self-administration” by the people, without specifying a time-frame. China has introduced village-level elections in some countries, as well as indirect elections at the city-level.
“We should believe that when the people are capable of running village affairs well, they will also be capable to move from running affairs of a village, to affairs of the township, and then the county. That will be a gradual process,” he said. Any political reforms, he stressed, would be taken forward “in an orderly way and under the leadership of the party.”