China has high reform hopes for Party’s Third Plenary Session

Source:Global Times Published: 2013-11-9 1:28:01

The much-anticipated Third Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee commences today, which will outline reform policies to determine the competitiveness of China for a decade to come. It will inject vitality into China's pace of development and address various urgent problems head-on.

China is united in agreement that reform is important. The successful reforms of the past 35 years have made China the most experienced country in terms of reform, with the highest momentum for reform. Some analysts have found that, to some extent, reform in China is a process in which the State passes control over major sectors to civil society, which spurs the creativity of the people.

Reforms began with agriculture, followed by commercial sectors, light industry, heavy industry and real estate. However, industries including the railways, shipping, airlines, finance, education, energy and telecommunications are still in the hands of the government and have huge potential to boost China's economy and provide new forms of development for civil society.

Opening up these strategically important economic sectors to the private sector will create fairer competition for all enterprises. The idea of the government withdrawing from the market has garnered strong support. The Third Plenary Session will push China to make historical leaps forward through pragmatic and orderly decisions.

However, various interest groups have come into being in China, though some are in disguise. Different groups in society have different - or even conflicting - interests. The biggest obstacle in the path of reform is not whether reform is needed, but rather, formulating a road map of reform accepted by most groups in society, which has to be both progressive and balanced.

Reforms made 30 years ago were carried forward despite strong opposition. China faces greater obstacles now, and there are not many alternative means the government can use to clear these obstructions.

Society has lost the patience for reforms that it used to have. Plus, not every reform is guaranteed to be successful and the public is now very critical about unsuccessful reform attempts. This state of affairs has narrowed the room in which the government can experiment with policies.

As a result, even though the success rate of reforms seems high, there are higher expectations for reforms and less tolerance for setbacks.

Those who support reforms may well become opposition to specific reform policies, resulting in reduced overall support from society for reforms.

History has proven that determination is the key to reforms, but the real challenge is the reformer's capacity to coordinate between conflicting interests. No government has absolute power, thus it has to outline a road map for reform that is powerful enough and at the same time can be properly managed.

The reforms in the past were applauded for the courage of the authorities of the time, however, the situation has changed dramatically, and reformers are pushed and criticized by the public. This means they can hardly be as ambitious as some sections of the public hope. The most ambitious government in terms of reforms would still be considered conservative when faced with these expectations.

China is faced with a long battle of pushing forward reforms, as well as the task of establishing valid assessment mechanisms. As many interest groups are able to manipulate public opinion in their favor, reformers must stick to the long-term interests of all of society and the nation, instead of satisfying those in power.

The ongoing Third Plenary Session is held amid a time of highly active public opinions, and has interacted with society to gather opinions. The public is anticipating the policymaking capability of the central leadership, and the political maturity of the society will be put to the test. There is only one way ahead for China, which is to progress forward. We wish for a successful Third Plenary Session which will be judged positively from the perspective of history.

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