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China: Where Wen Jiabao's political reforms should begin

Responding to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao‘s views on political reform in China given during a recent interview with CNN, college professor and education critic Xu Xiliang, writing on his Caijing blog [zh], takes a familiar tone and suggests two areas for Wen and other Chinese political leaders to begin introducing reforms:

目前中国经历十年的互联网启蒙,国民已经非常觉醒,同时经济实力也有很大的增长,政改的条件已经臻于成熟,同时,中国的经济发展与国内外形势,已经到了不政改就难以为继的地步。目前国内,面前日益严重的腐败与不受约束的权力越来越猖獗的寻租现象,社会矛盾日益突出,压力越来越大,官员腐败、环境污染、食品药品安全受到严重威胁,贫富差距日益扩大,绝贫困人口日益增多,维稳成本也是与日俱增。目前已经到了不改不行的地步。如果不及时抓住机会主动地改,那么,接下来只有被动地接受变化。那时引起的社会动荡不安将会更加剧烈。而国外,却由于中国运行的规则与世界主流相分离,因此,中国在国际上日益孤立,形成包围圈与威逼之势。顺应潮流,进行改革,使中国顺利融入世界怀抱,成为十分急迫的问题。

After ten years of being enlightened through the Internet, the citizens of China have become greatly awakened, at the same time that the country has seen a surge in economic strength; not only are the conditions for political reform ripe, but things are also now at the point where if political reforms don't take place, China's economic growth and situation both at home and abroad will be hard to maintain. Domestically, we currently face increasingly severe corruption and the phenomenon of unrestricted power growing increasingly unchecked, increasingly evident social conflicts, greater stress, official corruption, environmental pollution, serious threats to food and medicine safety, a steadily expanding rich-poor gap, a steadily increasing absolute poverty population and ‘stability maintenance’ costs which grow by the day. We're now at the point where there's no choice but to allow reforms. If the initiative isn't taken to seize the opportunity soon, the only option will be to passively accept the changes which follow. Social unrest which would occur at that time will only be all the more acute. Overseas, due to the disparateness between the rules by which China operates and those of the global mainstream, China grows increasingly isolated internationally, resulting in a sense of being encircled and under constant threat. To go with the flow and implement political reforms which would bring China smoothly into the world's embrace, is now a highly urgent matter.

正是基于这样的国内外形势,基于这样的认识,温家宝几乎利用每次公开讲话的机会,都要赤胆忠心地提到政改问题。其对国家,对民族一片赤诚之心跃然纸上。

这次,他又次提到政改问题,而且一次比一次急迫而热烈。甚至用了“风雨无阻,至死方休”来表达他的政改决心。

And it is based on just such a domestic and global situation, on just such an understanding, that Wen Jiabao seems to consistently use every public appearance as an opportunity to bring up the issue of political reforms. His sincerity regarding the nation and the people is truly striking.

On this occasion, he has once again brought up the issue of political reform, and like each time before, the issue was made more urgent than the last, even going so far as to express his determination to see out political reforms “rain or shine, unto death.”

Despite the resources available to someone like the Premier of a country, Xu continues, to the end of initiating political reforms, the breadth of the problems are at the same time beyond even the State Council‘s ability to enable reforms of such scale. But Xu identifies two areas from which Wen and company could start:

一、把世界一流大学引进中国办学,打破中国目前行政权力垄断大学的局面。世界一流大学,如果在中国能够办几百间分校,这对中国打开政治改革的僵局,将会很有效果。因为教育是培养人的事业,是百年大计,因此,从教育入手会有可持续性,一流大学将会打开一扇扇被蒙蔽了的思想心灵窗户,让国人看到一个五彩缤纷的世界,这对解放国民思想,开阔国民眼界,提高国民素质有极大的帮助。

1. Let the top universities in the world into China, and break up the current administrative monopoly over Chinese university education. Allowing the world's top universities to set up a few hundred campuses throughout the country would be a highly effective way to defeat the impasse on China's political reforms. Education is the means by which people develop, but it's also a process which takes generations, and for that reason any reforms which begin with education will also be sustainable; introducing world-class universities would be like opening a mental window that has long been kept firmly shut and would let the people of this country see the world in all its richness of color, liberate people's thinking, broaden people's vision and greatly serve to improve their character.

二、尽可能开放互联网,不要让中国的互联网变成局域网,与世界隔离开来。要让国人知道,世界因为互联网之后,变得越来平坦了、开放了。这也为中国人站到世界一切优秀文明成果的平台上提供了极有利的条件。互联网平台在学习资源上,价廉物美,不用白不用。印度以前许多方面都远不如中国,但是,因为互联网出现之后,印度人充分利用开放的互联网,学习世界的一切优秀文明成果,他们不但融入了世界主流,而且以从未有的生机活力追赶美国,他们的发展速度目前也许不如中国快,但是,印度的经济增长是建立在贫富均衡,且有利于平民的方向上,因此,他们的经济增长是良性的。

2. Let the Internet be as open as possible, and keep China's Internet from becoming an Intranet, cut off from the world. Let people know just how flat and open the world has become since the invention of the Internet. This would also help qualify the Chinese people to stand at the world table of all the excellent achievements of civilization. In terms of learning resources, as a platform the Internet is both cost-effective and high in quality and can't be done without. It used to be that India trailed far behind China in many ways, but since its advent the Indians have made full use of the open Internet in learning all about civilization's outstanding achievements; not only have they integrated with the global mainstream, but their unprecedented vitality and energy now approaches that of America. While they may not be developing as quickly as China, India's economic growth has, however, been distributed evenly between rich and poor, with a bias toward upward mobility, and it's for this reason that their economic growth has been wholesome.

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