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Sunday, 20 March 2011

Taking small steps in its own path

Made In China By Chow How Ban

Despite calls on the Internet to emulate the political unrest in Middle-Eastern and African nations, most Chinese prefer to stay away from even peaceful strolls – they are happy with the direction China has taken thus far. 

CHINA has every reason to believe that a Middle East or North African-style uprising would not occur in the country.

Time is still on the Communist Party-led government’s side to set everything right and show its people that it will be able to address inflation, their grievances on social injustice, corruption and lack of democracy.

In general, the Chinese are quite happy with the way the government has propelled the nation to economic and social successes.

Nevertheless, the minority pre-democracy activists circulated messages on the Internet, encouraging the public to take to the streets in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and other cities for a peaceful stroll every Sunday.

However, in the past four weeks, few actually turned up.

The preventive measures taken by China, like blackouts of postings calling for revolts on the Net and reminders to university students against gatherings were effective, not to mention the large police presence at the suggested places of protests.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry, pressed by the foreign media on the issue, described the issue as something “created out of thin air”.

Last week, its minister Yang Jiechi said that he had not seen any sign of tension in China. Rather, its people had a joyful Lunar New Year and are focussed on pursuing development.

After the Chinese National People’s Congress (NPC) session in Beijing on Monday, premier Wen Jiabao told reporters it was not right to draw parallels between China and the troubled countries.

“After 30 years of reforms and opening up, China has achieved rapid economic and social development,” he said.

“I believe the Chinese people have seen that the government is taking serious steps to address the challenges and problems brought about by development.”

He said although China had become the world’s second largest economy, its people were aware that China remained a developing country with a huge population, weak economic foundation and uneven development.

He dismissed suggestions that China had developed its very own model that could be emulated by other countries.

“We simply embarked on a path that fits China’s conditions.”

Wen hinted that China would continue to push for political reforms that the Communist Party deemed necessary to vitalise both the party and country.

He cited elections for NPC deputies at county and cities without districts, full administrative power in villages, indirect elections at and above city levels, and multi-candidates elections for members of the party’s central committees, as some examples of China’s efforts to promote democracy.

“Nothing in this world stays immutable and it is only through reform that we ensure continuous existence and growth,” he added.

However, Wu Bangguo, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, China’s top legislative body, told about 3,000 deputies that China would not adopt a multi-party rotation system or other Western political systems.

“Following our own path and promoting socialism with Chinese characteristics is the only correct road to development for China. If we waver, it is possible the country will suffer internal disorder,” he said.

Two weeks after comprehensive foreign media coverage on the protests, several state-owned newspapers finally voiced out their views.

The government’s mouthpiece People’s Daily said that while the world was reeling from the loss of lives in the Middle Eastern nations, crippled by political turmoil, some quarters with ulterior motives were hoping that the Chinese would embark on similar street protests.

“China is not the Middle East. The Chinese are taking small steps to become prosperous. They deeply understand that if they want to lead a better life the precondition is a stable society,” the daily said.

Chen Jingqiu, a member of the China Association for Promoting Democracy and Chinese Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said the government was trying its best to address the people’s grievances on government transparency and social injustice.

“The government will have to meet some benchmark in running the country, and the CPPCC members and NPC deputies will gauge their performance,” he said.

“More importantly, we must sort out our domestic relations. I believe revolutionary protests like those in the Middle East and North Africa will not happen in China.”