We won't fall like USSR, Beijing vows
Beijing marked the 20th anniversary of the Soviet Union's collapse by pledging that China would adhere to its stability-based growth model despite mounting challenges to the legitimacy of one-party rule.
The Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily ran a lengthy article on Monday - one day after the 20th anniversary of the resignation of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev - attributing China's economic success to the party's ability to carry out reform and opening up while striking a delicate balance between change and stability. Xinhua also ran at least three similar articles.
A lack of such a balance was the key lesson in the demise of the Soviet Union, the People's Daily article said.
It also sought to discredit popular revolts that swept the Arab world this year, and liberal democracies in the West, which it said were facing financial turmoil.
Analysts said the 3,400-word article, penned under the apparent pseudonym Guo Jiping, literally meaning 'international affairs commentary', was another attempt by Beijing to dismiss widespread criticism of its authoritarian political system and growing appeals for Western-style democracy.
The article started with an analysis of predictions since the fall of communism in the former Soviet bloc in the early 1990s, including those saying China would collapse after its admission to the World Trade Organisation in 2001 and others warning that the Chinese economic bubble was about to burst.
'Their ultimate purpose concerns China's socialist system, and such petty manoeuvres designed to obstruct China's growth and contain the country's rise have never ceased,' it said. 'China's successful development has proved that [Francis Fukuyama's] theory of 'the end of history' was just an illusion created by the West.'
The article said the ability to bring about and embrace real changes had set apart the governments in Beijing and in Moscow. 'A key reason behind the disintegration of the Soviet Union was [Moscow's] failure to carry out any substantial reform,' it said.
It also lashed out at violent unrest that swept through the Arab world, saying that violence wasted a historic opportunity of peaceful transformation. The article bluntly pointed the finger at the Western powers, blaming their meddling for the prolonged political upheavals in North Africa and the Middle East. 'Development issues cannot be solved through violent revolutions,' it said.
Analysts say that Beijing, apparently unnerved by the 'Arab spring' uprisings, has tightened control of the media and clamped down on internet dissent and rights activists.
Professor Zhu Lijia, of the Chinese Academy of Governance, said China and the former Soviet Union had many common social and political woes, notably rampant corruption, unjust court systems and a widening wealth gap.
Zhu said it was urgent Beijing heed public calls for greater democracy. 'A substantial step in long-stalled political reform is essential in preventing an outbreak of acute political, social and economic woes.'