Even government realises report is a sham, says writer A mainland dissident and a labour activist yesterday described the white paper 'as a big lie' that sounded 'extremely ridiculous and shameful'. Dissident writer Liu Xiaobo said the paper was another official report eulogising communist rule. 'It is old wine in a new bottle, but at least the hypocritical government realises that it needs democracy to decorate its corrupt bureaucracy,' Mr Liu said. He said the realisation might be a good start for the development of Chinese democracy because the government knew it was a sham. He also believed most government officials did not trust the report. 'Nowadays, the Chinese regime doesn't need absolute loyalty to the party, just verbal fealty,' Mr Liu said. He said the lack of basic human rights, such as the freedom of speech, the press and religion, on the mainland during the past decade suggested to the officials and the people that the report was a lie. 'If there is democracy, how come all political news is integrated and published by the state's Xinhua News Agency? How come more than 70 per cent of the National People's Congress delegates are appointed? How come local media have kept quiet over Guandong's Taishi incident, and why was Falun Gong quelled?' he asked. Labour activist Han Dongfang derided the report's boast that China had more than 2 million labour unions and organs to help workers to fight for benefits. 'If China had so many labour unions, why have there been numerous worker protests in the past few years? What are the unions doing? It sounds like the government is slapping itself in the face. It's ridiculous,' Mr Han said. Gao Xinjun, a professor with the China Centre for Comparative Politics and Economics, said China's grass-roots democracy had made significant achievements over the past two decades, but political limitations meant it was moving at a slow pace. 'The precondition for grass-roots democracy is that it's under the rule of the Communist Party. Everything has to be discussed and handled within the party's framework. It's impossible to replace some township government just to realise democratic principles,' he said. The white paper said the national constitution and Village Committee Organisation law had allowed villagers to directly elect and recall members of village committees. But recent attempts by villagers in Guangdong's Taishi to unseat an unpopular community leader have evolved into violent riots, and the beating and detention of journalists and academics. Pro-democracy activist Lu Banglie , who was beaten by thugs while trying to enter Taishi earlier this month, said the white paper's account of China's grass-roots democracy development was simply a lie. 'The Taishi incident is just a slap on the face of grass-roots democracy because what the villagers tried to do was to recall the chief in accordance with the law,' said Mr Lu.