Democracy will not suit China: Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping. (file photo)   | Photo Credit: Xie Huanchi

China's President Xi Jinping has said that multiparty democracy and development models of other countries "did not suit China" and would "lead to catastrophic consequences" if adopted by Beijing.

Mr. Xi, who began a decade-long term as President in March of last year, said the Communist Party of China (CPC) would "never stop" taking forward reforms, but at the same time as far as the ruling party was concerned the one-party political system would not change.

"China cannot copy the political system or development model of other countries because it would not fit us and it might even lead to catastrophic consequences," the State-run Xinhua news agency on Wednesday quoted Mr. Xi as saying, during a speech delivered to students a day earlier in Belgium, the final stop of an on-going four-nation European tour.

"Constitutional monarchy, imperial restoration, parliamentarism, a multi-party system and a presidential system, we considered them, tried them, but none worked," Mr. Xi was reported as saying.

The new leadership under Mr. Xi in November last year unveiled a sweeping blueprint for ambitious economic reforms.

The Party has, however, tightened its political grip, from reining in outspoken bloggers to stamping out a growing anti-corruption civil society movement, reflecting its reluctance to allow any political loosening.

Mr. Xi in his speech acknowledged that China's reforms process had "entered a deep-water zone, where problems crying to be resolved are all difficult ones".

"What we need is the courage to move the reform forward," he said. "We must get ready to go into the mountain, being fully aware that there may be tigers to encounter".

He, however, warned that China would not follow the political systems of other countries. Doing so would "lead to catastrophic consequences," he said. "The fruit may look the same, but the taste is quite different," he added.

Mr. Xi took over as Party General Secretary in November 2012, and as President in March last year for a decade-long term.

His initial remarks after taking over led some in China to see him as a proponent of gradual political opening. In one of his first speeches Mr. Xi stressed the need to supervise the Party's political power and to establish "the authority of the Constitution and law" as the highest power - a long-standing demand of many Chinese liberal scholars.

But shortly after, in a visit to southern Guangdong, where China's reforms first began, Mr. Xi pledged economic opening but warned against the dangers of political reforms in a speech to Party members.

He drew a comparison with the collapse of the Soviet Union, which he attributed to "their idals and beliefs being shaken". "To dismiss the history of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Communist Party, to dismiss Lenin and Stalin, and to dismiss everything else is to engage in historic nihilism, and it confuses our thoughts and undermines the party's organisations on all levels," he warned.

"Some people define reform as changes towards the universal values of the West, the Western political system, or it will not constitute 'real' reform. This is a stealthy tampering of the concept and a misunderstanding of our reform."

In the year since taking office, Mr. Xi has increasingly been come to be seen in China as a leader in the mold of Deng Xiaoping: a strong advocate for bold economic reforms, but at the same time a staunch supporter of tightening the Party's political grip.

So far, his administration has emphasised a strong stand against corruption, launching a high-profile campaign against graft and official excess. It has also made clear that it would not countenance challenges to its authority, by quickly stamping out a spreading civil society anti-corruption movement and detaining a number of activists who were campaigning for officials to declare their assets.

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Printable version | Nov 26, 2020 1:27:06 PM |

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