• Tue
  • Jul 29, 2014
  • Updated: 7:47am
Xi Jinping
NewsChina
POLITICS

Xi Jinping's drive for reform depends on strong party, says former senior policymaker Shi Zhihong

Former policy adviser Shi Zhihong insists curbs on the government's authority would be recipe for chaos as president drives China forward

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 March, 2014, 5:19am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 March, 2014, 2:13pm

President Xi Jinping is committed to reforms, including further opening up the economy to the free market, but will do nothing to subvert the power of the Communist Party, says a former senior policymaker.

Shi Zhihong, who until recently was deputy director of the Central Policy Research Office, said any moves to curb the party's authority might create instability and disorder.

"It is impossible to push hard for deepening reforms and to realise the modernisation of governance if the country is in chaos," Shi told the South China Morning Post in his first wide-ranging interview with a newspaper outside the mainland. Shi was responsible for drafting key policy documents, such as the communiqué issued at the end of the party plenum in November that mapped out reforms for the next decade.

He said there were elements in the party on the left who rejected modernisation and reformers on the right who questioned one-party rule. Both approaches could prove disastrous for the country's steady path of reform.

And as reform goes deeper it might damage the interests of some groups who question the authority of the party, he said.

The country could evolve only through "socialism with Chinese characteristics" and could not allow any "subversive errors" when it comes to the fundamental issues of governance, he added. One of the cornerstones of Xi's foreign policy was that it would not challenge the existing international order, despite its imperfections, said Shi, who is now deputy head of the legal committee for the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's political advisory body.

"We criticise Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe because he wants to subvert the post-war international order," he said.

"The international system has problems, but we have to perfect it, not subvert it. The socialist system that the party has built also has problems, but we have to make it better through reforms."

Relations between China and Japan have become increasingly strained since Abe's December visit to the Yasukuni shrine, which honours war criminals from the second world war.

Beijing has accused Abe's government of increasing militarism and of turning its back on the pacifist constitution that Japan adopted after the second world war.

Shi said government leaders realised poor work by some officials was hampering China's development. He quoted Xi as saying at a meeting last year that officials were struggling as they found "the old approaches stopped working, but at the same time they don't know how to implement the new approaches; the hardline approaches they don't dare to use, but at the same time the weak approaches no longer work".

The leadership's new philosophy of governance included upholding the country as a nation under the law; promoting citizen involvement in social issues such as food safety and air pollution; allowing democracy at the lower levels of government; and educating citizens to have strong morals and values.

Shi also said the assertion in the party plenum document that the free market would play a decisive role in the economy reflected only part of the new thinking.

"The government should play more of a role than that of just a watchdog in a powerhouse like China," he said. "In future reforms, we need to build a strong market, but at the same time we need a strong government and a strong society."

Shi said it was wrong to look at the development of China as either going down a route of massive state control or towards an unfettered free market.

The party's approach was more pragmatic, he said.

Shi raised the example of an ideological debate in 2012 between disgraced former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai and former Guangdong party boss Wang Yang , who is now vice-premier. They openly debated in the media about what was dubbed the "cake theory" of the economy.

Bo's Chongqing model focused on dividing the cake more equally among the public, while the Guangdong model centred on first making the cake bigger.

"The correct approach of the central government should be dividing the cake more equally, but on the premise of making a bigger cake," Shi said.

A full interview with Shi Zhihong in Chinese is available at nanzao.com, the SCMP's Chinese language website

Share

Related topics

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

6

This article is now closed to comments

fayefaye528@yahoo.com
Xi Jinping is certainly one of the best leaders in the Chinese history.
.
Formerly ******
Mr. pslhk:
Yes, equal rights apply regardless of abilities; however, this doesn't mean there must be equal outcomes as among individuals. This is an important distinction.
Ask yourself this, if democracy were so doomed to failure, then why is the US the strongest nation in the history of the world?
As for countries in which the people save a lot of money, I suggest that you study the paradox of thrift. Yes, it's possible for a nation to save itself into decline.
You might also look into China's banking system and its government-owned commercial enterprises. Why is wealth disparity worse in China than in the US? Seems that many of China's government officials have a habit of acquiring much wealth by virtue of being part of the government than by virtue of having earned it in the marketplace.
先生pslhk:
是的,平等的權利,無論應用能力的,但是,這並不意味著必須有平等結果作為個人之間。這是一個重要的區別。
問問自己這一點,如果民主是那麼注定要失敗的,那麼為什麼是美國最強大的國家在世界上的歷史?
至於其中的人們節省了很多錢的國家,我建議你學習節儉的悖論。是的,有可能為一個國家本身保存到衰落。
你也可以尋找到中國的銀行系統和政府擁有的商業企業。為什麼貧富懸殊惡化在中國比在美國嗎?似乎很多中國的政府官員獲得多少財富因作為政府的一部分並非憑藉已贏得了它在市場中的習慣。
fayefaye528@yahoo.com
America did not start from the scratch. The technology were acquired from England and other European countries. America's power and wealth did not come from democracy but from stealing the resources and land from the Native Americans and from ripping off the African slaves.
America's spiraling downward is caused by the poison of democracy. It is like a snowball effect that adding up problems along the way. Every governing party spends a lot of money to appease the voters in order to get more votes, that is why the treasury has become empty and America is struggling.
Look at Thailand and Ukraine, they run the western democracy and are in chaos, because democracy comes with another huge flaw that provides convenience for foreign powers to plant puppet parties to mess up their politics to the advantage of these foreign powers.
By the way, Xi is an excellent and outstanding leader. I really like him a lot. Absolutely, the western democracy comes with tons of poison and thus, it does not fit China.
Formerly ******
Mr ***** with the white doggie avatar:
Ah, where to begin to address your many falsehoods? First, the technology was developed in England, France, and US between 1760 and 1860. What did these countries all have in common? They were democracies.
Today's issues are nothing compared to the Great Depression.
Neither Thailand nor Ukraine is a true democracy. In Thailand, it's against the law to criticize the king. Along with weak property rights and a short history of resolving conflicts by well established legal precedent, Thailand also criminalizes many acts that simply are politics as usual in Western democracies.
The Ukraine has problems with corruption and cronyism. It has no history of strong property rights and does't have a strong system of resolving conflicts by law. These are legacies of the communist dicatorship of Ukraine. Very similar to China's history.
By the way, what of the many, many everyday violent demonstrations in China that are repressed with strong-arm government tactics? Is this your ideal of the perfect, orderly society? If yes, keep it in China.
*****先生與白色小狗頭像:
啊,從哪裡開始解決你的種種不實?首先,該技術是1760年和1860年之間發展在英國,法國和美國。什麼這些國家都有共同點?他們是民主國家。
今天的問題是沒有什麼比大蕭條。
無論是泰國烏克蘭也不是一個真正的民主。在泰國,這是違法的批評國王。隨著弱產權和完善的法律先例解決衝突的歷史很短,泰國也很多刑事犯罪行為,僅僅是政治像往常一樣在西方民主國家。
pslhk
From the idea of T McCraw, HBS head
who holds that the crux of management problems
of all organizations, families, corporations and countries
is centralization, decentralization, and interaction,
we readily observe that
decentralization = reserves deficit e.g., the US, a “liberal democracy”
centralization = reserves surplus e.g., China, Singapore, collective polities
-
In “liberal democracies” which advocate equal political right of individuals
regardless of capability, merit, and purpose
where technologies and globalisation have caused structural unemployment
and mismatched resources and polarized income distribution
perpetual economic deficit is only one possible outcome
of decentralized decision-making and majority rule:
-
The economic deficits of “liberal democracies” are financed
thru the military clout of the hegemonic west
and “goodwill” based on sham “moral correctness” of “democracy”
that the world’s ignorant masses still enjoy being deceived by
Formerly ******
What a joke. The US has a more socialistic system than China. For gosh sakes, China doesn't even have a Medicare-type or any retirement system, such as the US Social Security. China's government is just an authoritarian, one-party system with an economic system that combines mercantilism with cronyism and enforces this with violence against those who dare to fight it.
真是笑話。美國有一個更社會主義制度比中國。對於天哪緣故,中國甚至沒有一個醫療保險型或退休制度,如美國的社會保障。中國政府僅僅是一個專制,一黨制與重商主義相結合與任人唯親和對那些誰也不敢豁出去了暴力強制這樣的一個經濟體系。
 
 
 
 
 

Login

SCMP.com Account

or