Blueprint requires actions

Updated: 2011-09-16 08:01

(China Daily)

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Premier Wen Jiabao's latest remarks on political reform were an inspirational blueprint for the country's future.

In response to a question by Klaus Schwab at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Dalian on the concrete measures that need to be taken in order to build China into the open and magnanimous country he envisaged, Premier Wen presented an impressive roadmap for reforms in the political realm.

Each of the five aspects he touched upon - adhering to the rule of law, promoting fair wealth distribution, maintaining a fair and just judiciary, protecting civil rights and curtailing corruption - have a lasting impact on the country's future. And every one of the proposals he put forward carries the very high hopes of the general public. Yet clearly none will be achievable without changes.

On the rule of law, Wen said the Communist Party's and the government's leadership mechanisms "must be reformed". Talking about justice, Wen said the judiciary should enjoy proper independence; about civil rights, he promised to experiment on expanding the scope of direct elections in the countryside; about corruption, he identified five sub-areas to be highlighted in the future.

While excited about these fresh commitments and the strong political will expressed, our concerns boil down to the same question Mr Schwab raised - exactly what will be done to make them happen.

What Premier Wen has shown us, and the rest of the world, was a blueprint. It will not produce the changes this country requires without the introduction of specific measures. Premier Wen mentioned guaranteeing citizens' right to know, and said it is essential to the crusade against corruption. And he attached importance to making public the governments' expenses, which is now a formal obligation.

Government expenses on overseas trips, vehicles, and receptions have been a notorious source and target of public indignation, as well as a well-known hotbed of corruption. But the calls and orders for transparency in this regard have produced a dismal response. Government departments at the national level have indeed acted. The figures they presented, however, are by and large, murky, and not transparent enough.

The stunning amount spent on accommodating higher-level inspectors in a poor county of Hubei province, which is talk of the street these days, is but a reminder of why calls for transparency are expected to encounter strong resistance at local levels.

(China Daily 09/16/2011 page8)