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Advocate Political Reform in the Right Political Direction

[Editor’s Note: Shortly after China’s 5th Plenum of the 17th Party Congress, from October 21 to November 1, the Party’s official newspaper, People’s Daily, published five high profile articles by Zheng Qingyuan. According to one Chinese blogger, the name Zheng Qingyuan is probably a pen name for the Politburo writing team, and these articles represent the consensus of the Party’s inner circle [1]. The following report is a translation of excerpts from the third Zheng Qingyuan article, which focuses on China’s political reform. The author denies that China’s political reform seriously lags behind its economic reform. According to the author, the purpose of China’s political reform is to uphold the “Party’s leadership.” China has no interest in the Western system of “multi party politics or a separation of power into three branches of government.”] [2]

In the New China’s more than 60 years of history, we long ago obtained a clear answer regarding the question of China’s political direction. The current direction that we are following was identified after several generations of searching and over one hundred years of historical learning. It is a natural consequence of the historical trend and of the people’s will.

At this critical time for China’s reform and opening up and socialist modernization, the 5th Plenum of the 17th Party Congress re-emphasized the significance of this political direction: “Upholding the political development of socialism with Chinese characteristics; upholding the organic unity of the Party’s leadership, people being their own master, and rule by law; actively and steadily advocating reform of the political institutions; and continuously striving for self-perfection and development of the socialist political systems.” This is an important strategic direction in the overall blueprint of Chinese style socialism. It is also a fundamental political guarantee that allows us to seize this historical opportunity and strive forward with the reform and opening up and with modernizing socialism.

Developing socialist democratic politics has been an eternal goal for our Party. As early as in 1979, the Party clearly delineated a plan to reform and perfect the socialist political system. The Party has emphasized repeatedly that our reform is systemic and that it includes political reform. In more than 30 years since then, as an important part of China’s overall reform, political reform has continued to deepen along with the economic changes, with people’s increasing political involvement, and with the ever changing times. The continuous advancement of political reform has galvanized the creativity, the inspiration, and the activities of the Party and of people of all ethnic backgrounds; it has maintained the vitality of the Party and the nation, developed socialist democracy, strengthened socialist rule by law, and improved our country’s human rights.

During the development of Chinese style socialist politics, with regard to the issues of socialist democracy and rule by law, political reform in our country has never ceased. We have followed the social economic changes, adapted to the ever increasing enthusiasm of people’s political participation, and safeguarded people’s status as their own master; we worked to bolster the vitality of the Party and the nation and leverage people’s passions; with determination we developed a socialist political civilization. According to the law, we conduct democratic elections, democratic decision-making, democratic management, and democratic supervision. We guarantee people’s right to know, to participate, to express, and to supervise; we uphold governance by science, democracy and the law. We improve on their execution by using a scientific and democratic process. We maximize the scale to which we can mobilize and organize people to manage state affairs according to the law. We insist on scientific and democratic legislation and establish and harmonize our socialist, legal institutions with Chinese characteristics. We promote administration by law, deepen the reform of the judiciary system, safeguard social justice, and maintain the socialist legal system’s unity, dignity, and authority.

The Party leadership system has become regulated and institutionalized; we used intra-party democracy to spur the people’s democracy; we aggressively launched government re-organization and arrived at the current administrative structures that are compatible with the socialist market economy; we abolished life-tenure for senior cadres; we established a civil service system; we set up grassroots level self governance, gradually progressing to the election of people’s representatives with an equal proportion from the urban and rural populations; we expanded citizens’ orderly political participation; we strengthened the supervision and checks-and-balances on official power; we established and improved the system to punish and prevent corruption; … Political reform is constantly moving forward.

Comrade Deng Xiaoping clearly stated that to judge whether a country’s political system is correct, we must look at three areas: first, whether the country’s political situation is stable; second, whether its policies improve people’s solidarity and their lives; and third, whether its productivity can sustain long term growth. Our country’s historical changes have shown that our political institutions are appropriate for China’s real situation and that our system has tremendous vitality.

Our ever deepening political reform has further revealed the political advantages of socialism. We can have the most extensive democracy and highly concentrated power at the same time. We can guarantee people’s basic right to be their own master, and consolidate society’s resources to the maximum degree to improve governmental efficiency. The Flood of 1998, the Wenchuan Earthquake, the Beijing Olympics, Shanghai Expo, our ability to resist the international financial crisis—these are some of the tests we have weathered and passed. In the critical moments and during major events, the advantage of our socialist system has enabled us to face all kinds of challenges, such as natural disasters, economic impacts, and political turbulence. We have been successful in organizing all kinds of significant international activities.

Even some Western scholars do not dispute this point. The Chinese style socialist political development and accomplishments have provided important lessons for the political development and political civilization of humanity. The notion that political reform seriously lags behind economic reform is not factual.

Over more than 30 years of reform and exploration, we have gathered valuable experience in the area of political reform. The most basic lesson of all is just one: we must uphold the correct political direction. The correct political direction is a powerful assurance for achieving the objectives of political reform, and it is a solid guarantee of the Party and the nation’s long-term prosperity and permanent security.

When we uphold the correct political direction, we must resolutely follow the Party’s leadership. Further advancement of political reform is intended to increase the vitality of the Party and the nation and maximize people’s enthusiasm. Political reform cannot mean weakening or abandoning the Party’s leadership.

To uphold the correct political direction, we must stick to the socialist system. Reform is the socialist system’s means of self-correction and development. Its ultimate goal is to thoroughly maximize the advantages of socialism.

To uphold the correct political direction, we must stick to the path of socialist political development with Chinese characteristics. When we reform our political institutions, we must walk our own path. We must not copy the Western political models, their multi party politics, and the separation of power into three branches of government.

To uphold the correct political direction, we must move slowly and steadily. Our development must be on a solid footing; we must not lose sight of reality and leap beyond our current phase. We must not become extravagant and spout empty slogans.

We must solidly grasp the historical opportunity, uphold the correct political direction, and actively and cautiously embark on political reform. We must continue to develop highly energetic, socialist, democratic politics. We are highly confident and fully capable of building a rich and powerful democratic civilization and harmonious, socialist, modern nation using Chinese style socialism.

[1] BBS at People’s Daily, October 30, 2010
[2] Xinhua, October 26, 2010