Guangdong governor urges more reform

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 March, 2012, 12:00am

Guangdong Governor Zhu Xiaodan says resistance to reform comes from within government and has pledged to counter it with more transparency and civil rights.

Zhu told a press conference on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People's Congress in Beijing yesterday that government needed to make a reform breakthrough by limiting the power of the administrative approval system.

'The ultimate goal is to have a better co-ordinated mechanism to balance decision-making, executive authority and monitoring powers within the government,' Zhu said.

'This includes speeding up administrative transparency. The government needs to actively explore how to realise the protection of the public's right to know, expression, participation and monitoring.

'We must drive forward reform in a concrete manner in order to eliminate small-circle political power, official abuse of public resources and administrative fraudulence.'

In a panel discussion with the NPC's Guangdong delegation on Tuesday, provincial party secretary Wang Yang called for smaller government and the promotion of non-government organisations as part of Guangdong's drive for reform.

Wang said pushing for reform 'is a must for Guangdong' and the biggest obstacle was the current state of development of the mainland's laws and regulations. He said he would need more support from the State Council to break through the legal obstacles.

'I want to see if we can get backing from relevant departments by granting power to [Guangdong] to pioneer reform ... if there is a legal obstacle, let's all petition against it,' Wang said.

Zhu pledged yesterday to speed up training for non-government organisations in a bid to refine social management and warned there could be more Wukans if Guangdong failed to implement reform.

Villagers in Wukan, eastern Guangdong, elected a seven-member village committee last weekend after driving out the previous administration with months of protests against government land grabs.

'Personally, the problem of Wukan arises from an ill-formed grass-roots social-management mechanism ... Wukan taught us a good lesson which we need to learn seriously,' Zhu said. He said grass-roots reform needed to be guided by the Communist Party's leadership.

He pledged to promote fair grass-roots elections, revise the rules for village committee meetings, disclose village affairs and finances and strengthen public monitoring of grass-roots leadership.

'The Wukan incident could have been avoided if the locals could have effectively monitored their village officials,' Zhu said.

Zhu also stressed the importance of legal and legitimate elections. He said many previous local elections were 'completely out of the legal framework' and messy. 'We must improve on that,' he said.

Hong Kong-based China affairs expert Johnny Lau Yui-siu said Wang was trying to emphasise Guangdong's drive for reform ahead of his expected promotion to the Communist Party's supreme decision-making body this autumn.

'Reform is an approved theme and commonly shared sentiment among the central government. Anything along that line will only help Guangdong to further strengthen its prestigious role of pioneering reform,' Lau said.

'Wang's pledge to petition is totally legal. It's not like he is going to protest ... bear in mind that the reform they are talking about is within the acceptable scope of the communist government - it's not the kind of reform that the public would normally expect.'