Zhu speeches published

By Huang Shaojie Source:Global Times Published: 2011-9-9 3:43:00

Former premier Zhu Rongji, known for his bold reforms and tough stance against bureaucracy and corruption, published Thursday a collection of his speeches and other documents from his time in office.

Analysts say that Zhu's candid review of the challenges that China faced at the time will offer readers an educated glimpse into the country's journey of reform and modernization against an increasingly complex backdrop.

The Collected Speeches of Zhu Rongji is published by People's Publishing House and includes more than 300 speeches made by Zhu from 1998 to 2003. They cover a broad range of pressing issues for China at the turn of the century, from the reform of State-owned enterprises (SOEs) and higher education to the wealth gap and social injustice.

Many of these documents have never been published, according to the Guangzhou-based Southern Weekly, which published an excerpt from the anthology Thursday.

The publication of these speeches, some of which were made as long as 13 years ago, provides insights into Zhu's view on the political and economic landscape of today, according to Renmin University of China political science professor Zhang Ming.

"He couldn't have done this for royalties. By publishing this book he has something to say about the current situation," Zhang said.

In his first address as premier to the cabinet in 1998, Zhu urged his ministers to see "the people's suffering," calling public discontent a grave problem for the government.

"Many stories (about how people are hurt) are so unthinkable that your blood pressure will shoot up."

China's economic and political reform has virtually peaked since Zhu's era, according to Hu Xingdou, an economics professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology.

"Zhu's time was an era of great reforms," he said. "Major changes happened in the finance and banking sectors as well as in government structure. We wound up where we are today because of reforms under Zhu, for better or for worse."

Zhu made enemies among some public servants and interest groups for downsizing his government and reforming the ownership of State-owned enterprises.

More than 5.9 million workers of SOEs were laid off nationwide in 1998, according to statistics by the China Labor and Social Security Yearbook 2002.

Some 6.5 million more were let go in each of the following two years, the document showed.

Zhu oversaw medical reforms, cutting government spending on hospitals that left patients vulnerable to mounting bills.

"This government faces a minefield," Zhu warned in his 1998 speech. "If we miss our chance to clear these problems then things are going to get rough for China in the next century."

Yu Jianrong, a sociologist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times Thursday that some problems that existed 10 years ago are still with us and it may take more than just a brave premier to solve them.

There appears to be a lack of consensus on how to phase them out, Yu said.

"History will place Zhu positively as a premier liked by his people for being honest with them and brave enough to make things happen," said Zhang.

Zhu's bold reforms had some negative social effects, such as imbalanced wealth distribution, and the current administration has focused on a harmonious and scientific outlook in development in an effort to undo some of these consequences, observers said.

Posted in: China Watch

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