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Western-style political reforms ruled out by China's top legislator
Irish Times[Saturday, March 12, 2011 19:11]
CLIFFORD COONAN

CHINA WILL never adopt multiparty democracy or any other western-style political reforms that could challenge the Communist Party’s grip on power, Wu Bangguo, head of the national parliament, said yesterday in Beijing.

Mr Wu was speaking to the communists’ biggest set-piece gathering of the year, the largely ceremonial National People’s Congress, and his remarks represent the latest stark rejection of any major democratisation to match booming economic growth, sharply rising urbanisation and an increasingly diversified society.

“On the basis of China’s conditions, we have made a solemn declaration that we will not employ a system of multiple parties holding office in rotation,” Mr Wu said as he delivered the work report of the standing committee of the NPC to nearly 3,000 delegates gathered in the Great Hall of the People.

His remarks come at a time when the communist leadership has been rattled by the wave of anti-government protests across North Africa and the Middle East.

He also ruled out adoption of a federal system and separating powers between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, and said the division of parliament into upper and lower houses would not be considered.

While his views are not a major departure, and echo similar ones he articulated two years ago blasting western-style democracy, there has been some talk of democratic reforms in China, notably from Premier Wen Jiabao. However, Mr Wu’s tone was firm.

“If we waver . . . the fruits of development that we have already achieved will be lost and the country could even fall into the abyss of civil strife,” he said.

China’s strong economic position means much of the debate about introducing western-style democracy has gone off the boil. Western countries are not keen to push China on issues about democracy because they need China’s goodwill to help prop up their still-flagging economies. In addition, China points to its economic success as justification for its authoritarian one-party government.

The NCP’s focus remained on China’s progress in introducing a legal framework.

“We now have a complete set of types of laws covering all areas of social relations, with basic and major laws of each type already in place, together with comprehensive corresponding administrative regulations and local statutes,” Mr Wu said. “Overall, the system of laws is scientific, harmonious and consistent.”

His speech shows how, at least in theory, China remains firmly communist despite apparently strong capitalist developments in society, and the rhetoric remains firmly Marxist-Leninist in tone.
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