Eight in 10 Chinese want political reform
Eight out of 10 people in China’s major cities support political reform, according to a survey reported on Wednesday, on the eve of a once-in-a-decade leadership transition.
Seven in 10 people believe the government should face greater public scrutiny and strengthen its checks against corruption, said the poll, published in the state-run Global Times newspaper.
Corruption topped the survey’s list of threats to social stability.
“Most Chinese people believe China should initiate political reform,” the newspaper said.
The survey figures come as President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao wind down 10 years of leadership that saw roaring economic growth but also growing popular discontent over problems including corruption and income disparity.
The leaders’ expected successors, Vice President Xi Jinping and Vice Premier Li Keqiang, are due to be anointed at a five-yearly Communist party congress beginning in Beijing tomorrow.
They will face mounting pressure to address such issues and spur economic growth, which has slowed to 7.4 per cent, its lowest quarterly rate since 2009.
Analysts say the administration has failed to enact the economic and political reforms needed to ensure steady growth in the coming years.
China’s all-powerful ruling party censors public criticism and its top leaders make key policy decisions and appointments through negotiations behind closed doors.
Two thirds of respondents rated China’s development over the past decade as “satisfactory or somewhat satisfactory” while seven in 10 said they felt reform should occur gradually.
After corruption, they ranked the widening rich-poor gap and an inadequate social safety net as the most pressing problems.
About 70 per cent said the government should expand access to healthcare, pensions and social security within the next five years.
Eighty-five per cent said they felt “China is likely to face more challenges in the future”.
The survey, of more than 1,200 adults living in seven major cities including Beijing and Shanghai, was consistent with results of prior polls, the Global Times said, citing a Chinese Academy of Social Sciences scholar.
Surveys on such subjects appear periodically in state-run media.