World-renowned scholars on Wednesday expressed divided opinions on the way the Communist Party of China (CPC) is handling reforms in China at a dialogue held in Beijing.
The scholars, from various disciples, aired their views at the China’s Reforms: Particularities versus Commonalities session on the first day of The Party and the World Dialogue 2014.
The scholars, who came from all over the world, discussed the reform for almost half a day. Some suggested that the reforms are being correctly handled due to the wide participation of society. Others disagreed, saying that despite the achievements, the Party’s reforms are bound to fail due to a number of issues including the lack of a democratic political system and censorship. Some of the delegates suggested that China is role model for rapid development.
David Shambaugh, a professor of political science and international affairs at the George Washington University in the United States, outlined ten challenges that the CPC is facing in implementing and sustaining the reforms.
“Every country, even the United States, faces a number of challenges,” said Prof. Shambaugh, who is also a Director for China Policy Program, but the method of tackling them matters.
The challenges, according to the professors, include economy, innovation, social inequality, political system, military effectiveness, organization, the environment, cultural industry and foreign relations.
He said the economy shows signs of stagnation due to a lack of investment on research and development plus censorship, therefore this “type of political system may collapse.”
But the U.S. scholar also acknowledged the positive side of China’s reforms.
Kerry Brown, professor of Chinese Politics at the University of Sydney in Australia said the reform structure and process are complicated.
Therefore “consultation is very important,” Kerry said, as society, especially the middle class, is expecting more improved services.
“We are looking at the Party in the same way as our Western parties,” Kerry said.
Pierre Defraigne said each country has to find its own way: “We have had enough of concessions, we don’t want another concession. Every country has to have its own way.”
Martin Jacques, a journalist and scholar, says the decline of the U.S. and Western hegemony in the world and the rise of China could change the way people think and do things
“The U.K. has risen to the center of global culture. Imagine China was in the place of the U.K., would the world be thinking be the same today?” he asked.
Professor Zhengxu Wang of the University of Nottingham in the U.K. proposed that the CPC create a staff exchange program with the West so as to help them understand the Party and its ideology under one party system.
Zamir Mohamed, President of the Bangladesh Folklore Research Center, said “we are watching and learning from China” and its more market-oriented economy.
Zhang Weiwei, director of the Research Center of the Chinese development model at Fudan University said the CPC may turn challenges into opportunities and in the next five years things are expected to be different and better than today in a better aspect.
Prof Zhang said, “Internet censorship has helped China’s own brands to surface, like JD.com, Tencent, Baidu and so on.”
On the gap between the rich and poor, he said the Gini coefficient is an inappropriate measure as it only looks at one side of the coin—the monetary side —and leaves out other aspects like land and house ownership.
In his opening remarks, Wang Jiarui, Minister of International Department of CPC Central Committee, said the CPC is ready to listen from others as the Party reviews and contrasts its mistakes to overcome challenges while letting its neighbours understand China better.
“The dialogue is a channel to hear directly from you (and us) from authentic sources…as we are facing a lot of shortcomings,” Wang said.
The comprehensive reforms plans began in 2014. To understand these reforms and their future direction, one must first understand the CPC machinery.
The three-day dialogue will showcase modern international perspectives on the CPC, the ruling party in China, centred on the theme of “China’s New Reforms: the Role of the Party.”
China has been at the focus of the world’s attention for its miraculous 30 years of economic growth and development, since the country adopted a reform and opening-up policy.
“The Party and the World Dialogue 2014,” sponsored by the China Centre for Contemporary World Studies (CCCWS) and the China Foundation for Peace and Development (CFPD), opened in Beijing on Wednesday morning.
– Abduel Elinaza