Provinces warn party of unrest
By WILLY WO-LAP LAM
LEADERS in several central and western provinces have warned Beijing that they might lose control of law and order without more aid and preferential policies.
The tough message was relayed by the regional cadres at high-level meetings at the north China resort of Beidaihe late last month.
The officials were asking the Communist Party leadership to take concrete action to redress the imbalance between impoverished western provinces and the rich eastern coast.
They pointed out that without central aid and special tax and investment policies their economies would deteriorate, leading to more widespread outbreaks of crime and anti-government activities.
Sources in Beijing yesterday quoted the regional 'warlords' as saying that they were also losing control over economic crimes such as smuggling and corruption.
'Quite a few coastal provinces and cities have become rich because cadres there have tolerated dubious economic deals and even smuggling,' one cadre said in Beidaihe.
'Unless Beijing gives us more preferential policies, we may have difficulty stopping our cadres from emulating the coastal areas.' The cadres from the provinces, which include Sichuan, Shaanxi, Xinjiang, Gansu and Guizhou, wanted Beijing to give them policies on a par with those in the east.
They also demanded the right to set up special economic zones.
The sources said the lobbying was effective because the leadership was concerned about worsening law and order in these areas.
Beijing was particularly nervous about an old-style peasant insurrection, which might come about through discontent over the excessively low procurement prices offered by the Government in the past two years.
Moreover, a few cadres privately threatened to expose the alleged economic crimes of a number of politically well-connected cadres in the coastal regions.
It is understood that Beijing has agreed to meet the demands of the hinterland and the west, except for the right to set up special economic zones. The exact policies and level of aid and central investment in these areas have yet to be hammered out at the fifth plenum of the party central committee.
Meanwhile, individual cadres from the coast complained about the system of the regular rotation of officials that was decided upon at Beidaihe.
'It may not be fair for officials from rich areas to be transferred to poor areas,' one provincial party boss said privately.
'In backward areas, these officials will have a harder time demonstrating their talents and ability.' Officials who opposed regular rotation included those from Guangdong, which has so far been successful in preventing Beijing from appointing a non-native son to the top provincial leadership.