China needs to develop a more pluralistic political system for the free market to operate more smoothly, a Peking University professor said yesterday. Political economist Fu Jun, deputy dean of the university's school of government, suggested that further development of a middle class could help to build a more pluralistic society. 'It's China's own choice to put itself in a situation where it is market driven by deciding to join the WTO [World Trade Organisation], and that also has a lot of effects for China to continue to move in that direction [democratic development],' Professor Fu said. 'But for a market to operate smoothly, the hierarchical institution has to be pluralistic, and there is no other way.' He also warned that a lack of improvement in the government's ability to assuage social grievances could hinder China's 'miraculous' economic growth. 'A market often goes hand in hand with a sophisticated hierarchical institution. But in the past two decades in China, if we look at the government's capacity in the hierarchical institutional arrangements, we haven't seen a lot of changes in the government's capacity,' he said. 'We have certainly trained a large troupe of lawyers. But the court system continues to operate within a big political struggle.' Noting recent incidents of rural unrest, Professor Fu said this was the result of the growing wealth gap and the difficulties peasants faced in expressing their grievances. He said the government was looking to make it easier for peasants to have a voice by introducing policies such as local elections.