China party says no to political reform on eve of key meet

BEIJING Fri Nov 8, 2013 3:44am EST

China's President Xi Jinping (L) looks at Premier Li Keqiang as they attend the opening ceremony of the 11th National Women's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing October 28, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Lee

China's President Xi Jinping (L) looks at Premier Li Keqiang as they attend the opening ceremony of the 11th National Women's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing October 28, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Lee

Related Topics

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's Communist Party gave an emphatic no to any political reform that may threaten its rule in a lengthy document published on Friday, the day before it starts a key meeting to set the economic agenda for the next decade.

While party leaders have promised unprecedented reforms at the four-day closed-door plenum, these will focus on economic issues, and there have been no expectations of Western-style political reforms.

In a turgid full-page article in the official People's Daily, the party's historical research institute was emphatic that China could only prosper under the party's leadership.

For those who "preach the indiscriminate copying of the Western system" the party will "uphold its leadership", it said.

It warned, as President Xi Jinping has already done, that efforts to undermine the party's legitimacy by "negating" tragedies such as the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, which preceded landmark economic reforms begun in the late 1970s, would only sow the seeds of the party's own destruction.

"The ancients had a saying: 'If you're going to destroy somebody's country, you must first wipe out their history'," the institute wrote.

"From an analysis of enemy forces at home and abroad, you can see that their negation of the period before reform and opening up is to negate our party's great historical achievements ... (they are) demonizing our party so as to deny the Chinese Communist Party's position in power."

The party will not stand for this, and continue on its path of "socialism with Chinese characteristics", it added, referring to its program of market-oriented economic reforms.

"Uphold and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics, neither walking down the closed and rigid road nor taking the evil road of changing (our) flags and banners," it said, an expression commonly used by the party when it talks about not copying Western political systems.

The document echoes an October report in an influential party journal that denounced Western calls for political reform, saying such pressure was aimed at getting rid of the Communist Party.

Before Xi took power in a generational leadership change last November, some had expected him to loosen China's rigid political system, which tolerates no dissent, pointing to the legacy of his liberal-minded father, a former vice premier.

But Xi has overseen a new crackdown on dissidents and freedom of expression, while at times espousing old school Maoism as he seeks to court powerful conservative elements in the party.

Even without opposition from the party's old guard, Xi is likely to tread carefully around any kind of political reform. He is steeped in the party's long-held belief that loosening control too quickly could lead to the disintegration of the country, much like the former Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev.

Mao - who many historians blame not just for the chaos of the Cultural Revolution but also the millions who died of hunger in the preceding Great Leap Forward - cannot have his legacy ruined just because of his mistakes, the research body said.

"To do that not only would go against historical facts and the will of the people, but will certainly lead to extremely serious political consequences," it wrote.

China has never fully accounted for the events of the Cultural Revolution or Great Leap Forward, and public discussion is limited.

Just 33 percent of Chinese want political reform, a poll by the Global Times, an influential tabloid owned by the People's Daily, showed.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (4)
buddyholly2 wrote:
“there have been no expectations of Western-style political reforms.”

SMART – they don’t really need to move towards something like the totally broken and inneffective American Congressional systme.

Nov 08, 2013 4:30am EST  --  Report as abuse
tmc wrote:
They see what happened to the USSR. They are a wise people and learn from others mistakes.

Nov 08, 2013 7:18am EST  --  Report as abuse
ppp9988 wrote:
China is broken and if you live there for a while you will even as a foreigner notice that. Their population is not fit for the world, nor is their culture. Just the western greed has made them to what they are today. China’s days are counted. With uncontrollable corruption, an economy that only depends on manufacturing and exporting, a debt load that is not even exactly the be figured out and their ever growing real estate bubble – these are the factors that will China give the kick into the Abyss.
Unfortunately western investment companies , outsourcers etc are plain too stupid to see what will happen. The first mistake is to believe any government stats that is issued by China. It is plain happy news. Never ever anything will be published that in some way would show any negative developments. It comes as simple as this:
If the western countries order less due to the economic situation – such as Spain, Italy, Portugal and yes the USA too, than there will be less demand and the factories have less to produce. That means less exports. The domestic market there is not powerful enough to keep the economy going. Chinese consumers are the worst in the world.
They save their income and do not spend anything except basic food and houses. Speculation with real estate shows clearly the results there. Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen have overblown housing prices.
A crash of that economy is pretty much guaranteed and will probably effect the world. The risk that China at one point will sell their
trillions of US Dollars is a pretty scary thought and probably will take the western economy out faster than we would have thought.

Nov 08, 2013 8:56am EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Pictures