Economist urges political revamp

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 November, 2007, 12:00am

The mainland should embrace overall reform, including the restructuring of the political system, instead of just focusing on economics, a liberal official said.

Gao Shangquan, 78, president of the China Society of Economic Reform, said the focus of the next stage of reform should be shifting to an overall approach in accordance with the requirements of 'scientific development and social harmony ', two governing philosophies initiated by President Hu Jintao .

Professor Gao, a former minister in charge of the State Council's office for restructuring the economic system, outlined five areas for future reform: deepening economic reform to embrace a full market economy; comprehensive rural reform, including the development of a social security net covering the rural population; increased openness in embracing economic globalisation; social reform to boost the standard of government in social administration and public services; and further political reform to develop what he called socialist democracy.

'[We should] deepen the restructuring of the political system, in accordance with the requirements of developing socialist democratic politics,' Professor Gao told Shanghai's Oriental Morning Post in a series of articles marking the 30th anniversary of the market-oriented economic reforms initiated by late leader Deng Xiaoping .

Professor Gao said political reform should give people more channels through which to express themselves, protect people's rights to supervise the government, and ensure that government powers were correctly exercised.

Professor Gao played a prominent role in the mainland's market-oriented economic reforms during 1980s and 1990s, when he was in charge of the cabinet's office for economic restructuring and once came under intensive criticism from conservative propagandists.

In the same article, Chi Fulin , executive president of China (Hainan) Reform and Development Research Institute, said it had become more imperative for the mainland to go ahead with political reform.

'Compared with reform in the past 30 years, the demands for the next stage of political reform have become more urgent and imperative,' Professor Chi said.

He added that reform in coming years would prove to be more difficult than before because the country now faced more deep-rooted and complicated social contradictions and problems.