Dedicated scourge of crony capitalism

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 26 March, 2012, 12:00am

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Born into an age of upheaval and reform, Wu Jinglian remains a strong voice of economic change, having survived war, revolution, the turbulent Cultural Revolution, and Deng Xiaoping's sweeping reforms.


Wu became widely known and lauded by the public as the 'conscience of mainland economists' for saying that the country's stock market was no more regulated than a casino, and for pressing regulators to ensure proper disclosure.


He made the remarks at a debate among scholars and investors in 2000. But his reputation suffered consequently.


'A lot of investors blamed me for saying that the mainland's stock market was no better regulated than a casino. They blamed me for crashing the market,' Wu said.


He continued to warn about the rise of crony capitalism, in which the economy was increasingly riddled with vested interests between businessmen and powerful officials.


He also drew attention to the rise of conservatism and a push to roll back reforms, including the nation's increasing openness.


And he continued to speak of the need to reform state-owned firms and allow non-state-owned forces to play a greater role. Wu has been a research fellow at the Development Research Centre of the State Council since 1984. He is also deputy director of the Office for the Panel on Economic Reforms Project of the State Council.


His outspokenness made him no friends during the Cultural Revolution, when he was branded a 'capitalist roader' and was sent to a labour reform camp. But he survived to become an active and independent thinker, helping to drive key economic reforms from the mainland's initial move to open up to the world.