For its foreign visitors, the Olympics seemed to be an introduction to all that free market forces have done to China since Opening Up and Reform began following Mao's death (which was 32 years ago today, btw, and barely paid any attention).
What does that mean? It led Thomas Friedman to write that American cities now look third world in comparison to some of the ones China has built
Zhang Danhong took it a step further and claimed that through its free market reforms the Communist Party of China has done more than any political force before it by providing the Chinese people with the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Just as Zhang was getting fired by Deutsche Welle for having
spokensaid that in public, with worries of a global economic crisis growing, a high-profile forum was held in Beijing to discuss the direction China ought to take over the coming thirty years.
In attendance were the who's who in the Chinese free-market economics, political and academic circles: Jiang Ping, Mao Yushi, Qin Hui, Zhou Qiren, Fan Gang and, having just several days prior been accused by anti-CCP website Boxun of spying for the US, free market economist Wu Jinglian.
On the weekend a summary of the ideas put forth at this forum was put online and has been getting posted around, bringing the forum discussion online. Flagship Bullog blogger ProState in Flames yesterday renamed the piece ‘Steven Cheung: “China's system, #1 under heaven”‘ and netizens elsewhere have been making similar snarky remarks. Namely, the anonymous piece appears to have been written by someone who was featured at the panel and refutes Cheung's claim, driving home the point that the priority now is for political and social reforms to catch up with economic reforms, starting with the growing rich-poor gap and the fight against corruption:
Having made a trip especially to attend this conference was ethnic Chinese economic expert Steven N.S. Cheung who asserted, based on this kind of growth, that after fumbling around for thirty years, China has already developed into the best system seen not just in Chinese history, but also in humankind's. However, both publicly and in private, all mainland scholars unanimously feel this view to be overly optimistic. Economists at the forum all feel that the current economic situation is quite severe, and that the high-speed economic growth seen over the past few years will not necessarily continue. What's most worrisome, however, are not just cyclical factors, but the deeper-level structural and systematic factors.
The strategy that scholars put forth includes reducing the power government departments have to control resources, strictly curb the limits of the government's role, that the government ought to stick closely to its own role, that it cannot act in commercial functions or use its authority to engage in municipal or land business; that the government reform the fiscal budget system, that it give the public greater access channels for participation in fiscal governance. Professor Jiang Ping further stated that while development is top priority, so too are human rights. Overall, participants all agreed with Wu Jinglian's statement that political reforms must be implemented slowly and surely to perfect the framework of a constitutional system.
In other words, if China wants to ensure stable growth, it must perfect the market system; if it wants to realize social prosperity, it must establish some degree of a basic welfare system. However, fulfilling the public's material needs requires the support of a reasonable social and political system. As Chinese Communist Party Central Committee Secretary Hu Jintao pointed out during a June 25 speech at the Central Party School, political system reforms must follow the constant promotion of economic and social development.