Chinese article on reforms appears critical of Premier Jiabao: NYT

Thursday, October 28, 2010

BEIJING - An opinion article in China’s main Communist Party newspaper - People’s Daily - appears to be obliquely aimed at Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

According to the New York Times, the article criticizes Jiabao for suggesting more reforms in the country’s administrative system.

Jiabao is said to have called for facilitating economic progress with systemic reforms, including the establishment of an independent judiciary, greater oversight of government by the press and improvements in China’s sharply limited form of elections.

The article may also have been directed at countering recent demands for democratic reforms by Chinese liberal intellectuals and Communist Party elders, spurred in part by Wen’s remarks and timed to this month’s award of the Nobel Peace Prize to an imprisoned Chinese democracy advocate, Liu Xiaobo.

Wen’s comments, according to the NYT, have fueled a debate among analysts over whether he is advocating Western-style changes in China’s governing system or merely calling for more openness inside the ruling Communist Party.

Wednesday’s commentary, which closely followed the ruling party’s annual planning session, ran to 1,800 words and delved into topics only occasionally discussed in the state media.

The article emphatically repeated past declarations that changes modeled on American or European political systems were inappropriate for China.

It also appeared to directly reject Wen’s warning that economic progress and political reforms were inseparably linked.

“The idea that China’s political reform is seriously lagging behind its remarkable economic development is not only contrary to the law of objectivity, but also to the objective facts,” it stated.

“In promoting political reform, we shouldn’t copy the Western political system model; shouldn’t engage in something like multiparty coalition government or separation of powers among the executive, legislative and judicial branches. We should stick to our own way,” it added.

A Chinese political historian who asked not to be named in discussing the issue said, “Obviously, this is a criticism of Wen.” He later qualified his remark, saying the editorial amounted to “a sideways swipe,” noting that Wen was not explicitly named. (ANI)

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