From January 18 to February 21 1992, former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping toured southern cities including Wuchang, Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Shanghai and delivered a series of speeches. Those speeches set the tone for China's further reform and opening-up, ended long-term debates over capitalism and socialism, established the line of reform and promoted its implementation.
In the 20 years since then, China has made remarkable achievements and basically set up a market economy. As the reform also involves the country's governance system, it helps improve relations between power and the public while promoting the vitality of Chinese society.
China is facing a new round of debates over reform at the moment. Society should agree on the direction of reform. Otherwise, even if the reform advances, it cannot be thoroughly and effectively implemented without social conflicts.
The most controversial topic in today's public opinion is political reform. Some believe political reform is equivalent to a reform of the country's administrative system and should aim for more supervision on power, while others think the core of political reform is to change the source of that power and aim to see Western-style elections in China.
Under the clashes of these two factions, China is less likely to take a radical line of reform. China's political reform should be promoted steadily.
By now, China has reached a consensus over social reform, but does not give enough attention to promoting it. Social reform seeks to improve welfare system, promote consumption and provide material guarantees for people's freedom and happiness.
The rise of populism is a reality in China. Promoting reforms must win grass roots support rather than overlook their interests. This is a lesson drawn from past reforms in rural and urban areas and is also vitally important to decision-makers.
Intellectuals have been the main driving force behind Chinese reforms, but they perpetually quibble over various demands. In fact, the complexity of China's politics is firstly reflected by the complexity within its intellectual classes.
Winning the support of most intellectuals is key to reducing obstacles to reforms. Though their support is not a guarantee of success, without it, reforms are doomed to failure.
It is hard for China to make reforms, however, this is no excuse to abandon reform. This requires wisdom. As long as social reforms are advanced carefully and adjusted along the way, they will be successful.