Hu Xi Handover: Peaceful Development Requires Democratic Validation
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
November 7, 2012
Summary: Tomorrow the Chinese Communist Party will convene its 18th National
Congress. The old and new party and government leadership will undergo a
four month long transition. The Hu-Wen team will exit the political
scene. The Xi-Li team will carry the torch. Speaking about the past decade, Wen Jiabao told Xi and Li, "Without
assurances of political reform. the fruits of economic reform will be
lost." The irony is that Wen Jiabao's integrity is currently in
Full Text below:
Tomorrow the Chinese Communist Party will convene its 18th National Congress. The old and new party and government leadership will undergo a four month long transition. The Hu-Wen team will exit the political scene. The Xi-Li team will carry the torch.
The Hu-Wen regime's banner was "peaceful development." Over the past decade, people have begun to refer to Mainland China and the United States as the G2. It has become the world's second largest economy. It is the world's market as well as the world's factory. Economic development has quadrupled. Hundreds of millions of people have been lifted above the poverty line. The 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2010 Shanghai World Expo freshened up Mainland China's image. Mainland China survived the 2008 global financial tsunami with little fuss. It swiftly rebuilt in the wake of the Wenchuan earthquake. It successfully docked the manned Shenzhou Nine with the Tiangong One. The Liaoning aircraft carrier is now operational. These are all evidence of Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao's record of achievements in "peaceful development," internal and external. It was only in August of this year that the conflict over the sovereignty of the Diaoyutai Islands replaced the atmosphere of "peaceful development." The United States and Japan have a clear impression of Mainland China's "development" over the past decade. Most of the world give high marks to Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao's decade of governance.
But Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao have done little in the way of political reform. Economic development and political stability are to some extent mutually contradictory. On the one hand, economic development reduces political conflict. On the other hand, it stores up energy for future political conflict. The 2012 Bo Xilai incident underscores the need for political reform. In 2010 Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Prize. That underscored the political problems bedeviling the Mainland. Internet censorship cannot suppress awareness of tens of thousands of "mass protests" each year. These constitute a raging volcano. Hong Kong has reacted strongly to Article 23 of the Basic Law and to "national education." These and the highly anticipated direct elections of the Chief Executive in 2017 are seen as more than merely local matters. They remind the Chinese Communist Party that it must be vigilant and clear about its authoritarian rule and its democratic responsibilities. The CCP's "peaceful development" is taking place on the mouth of a volcano. Will the government's economic performance reduce political corruption and conflict? Or will it lead to increased political corruption and precipitate even greater conflict? Will the government be able to maintain a "harmonious society?" These have yet to undergo "democratic validation."
During the Hu-Wen decade, the CCP made major breakthroughs in cross-Strait relations. But it also had a major blind spot. The 2005 Lien-Hu Meeting put us on the road to peaceful development in cross-Strait relations. This was a world-changing event. The Hu-Wen regime set its sights on a "cross-Strait peace agreement" to be signed during its term of office. But this was not to be, partly due to hesitation on the part of the Ma administration in Taipei. Partly due to Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao's failure to make timely changes to their cross-Strait rhetoric. In order to achieve a "peace agreement," the two parties must first be on an equal basis. Without a "big roof China" framework, how can that happen? Over the past decade, the Hu-Wen regime's cross-Strait framework has indeed evolved in a progressive and pragmatic manner. It has evolved from "peaceful development" in 2005, to "one China, different interpretations" during the March 2008 Bush-Hu Hotline conversation. It has evolved from the "Hu Six Points" on New Years Eve 2008, to "relevant current provisions" (constitutional) in March 2012. Sadly it stopped just short of a "cross-Strait peace agreement." If one wishes to see farther, one must ascend to a higher level. The higher level is the "big roof China" concept.
Let us sum up the Hu Jintao-Wen Jiabao decade. It achieved "peaceful development." But it also enabled Bo Xilai and his ilk. On the one hand, cronyist corruption ran rampant. On the other hand, the "Chongqing mode" reflected the disparity between the rich and the poor, to the point where Maoist thinking almost made a comeback. Add to this the ticking bomb that is the "Wukan Village mode," and Hong Kong's aspirations toward democracy, which have become increasingly national in character. Clearly the Xi-Li regime will not be able to silence dissent the way it silenced Liu Xiaobo and Chen Guangcheng. It will not be able to prevent Internet users from circumventing the Internet police and the Great Firewall of China. Still less can it detect and prevent hundreds of "mass protests" everywhere. If the Xi-Li regime wants to maintain "peaceful development," and a "harmonious society," then "democratic validation" is unavoidable. As for cross-Strait relations, the core of "peaceful development" is "democratic development." This goes without saying.
Two personality traits of the newly inaugurated General Secretary Xi Jinping are consider highly relevant. One. His father, Xi Zhongxun was purged during the "Liu Zhidan Incident." During the Cultural Revolution, at age 16, Xi Jinping was "sent down" to Yan'an County Liangjiahe Village. Two. Xi Jinping has over 20 years of cross-Strait experience in the Fujian, Zhejiang, and Shanghai regions, which were among the first to liberalize. Will his family experience make him more enlightened about political reform? Will his cross-Strait experience enable him to better understand democracy? That remains to be seen. Hu and Wen established new highs for "peaceful development." Xi and Li should be able to begin "democratic validation."
Speaking about the past decade, Wen Jiabao told Xi and Li, "Without assurances of political reform. the fruits of economic reform will be lost." The irony is that Wen Jiabao's integrity is currently in question.
2012.11.07 01:46 am