Wed, Mar 21, 2012 - Page 9 News List

The problems and opportunities that are facing today’s China

Experts on China discuss the issues related to politics, the environment, corruption and the economy that the government in Beijing will be facing in the coming years

The Guardian, LONDON

In the coming decade or for even longer, China’s environment will be in a difficult process of recovery.

Jin Jiaman is executive director of the Global Environmental Institute.

Things have not become more just and equal, they have gotten worse

By Yu Hua (余華)

China’s development seems to have proved the point that in a country under a dictatorship the economy seems to develop faster, but the problems that develop along the way seem to be greater.

For example, the wealth gap has not got smaller as the economy develops, it has grown.

Society has not become any more just and equal, but worse. Corruption is more severe. When a tycoon is detained, someone will come to the detention house, saying: “If you are willing to sell your 3 billion yuan [US$475 million] of assets for 300 million, I can get you out of here.”

This is a corruption industry created in the process of fighting corruption.

People are looking at the case of Wang Lijun (王立軍) [the Chongqing police chief suspected of seeking to defect to the US]. It sends the signal that in their bones Chinese senior officials do not loathe western democracy as they say. Deep in their hearts, they do not trust the government.

The children of high officials get fortunes from their power and migrate to democratic countries, not dictatorships.

As social conflict becomes sharper, maintaining stability becomes more important. The official figures say the cost of public security is more than 600 billion yuan — even more than what is spent on the military, according to Western media.

At least right now in China, there has not been any political power strong enough to challenge the Chinese Communist Party. We can see small-scale protests all over China, but all of them have one thing in common — they only fight local officials, not the central government.

As these small protests become more and more numerous, there will be more problems. The only solution is democracy, to make officials careful about what they say and what they do. If there is not a revolution, the party has to make itself democratic to ensure its own survival.

Yu Hua is a novelist and the author of China in Ten Words.

State-owned companies should provide more social dividends

By Wang Hui (汪暉)

While some claim that China’s economy will collapse soon, I do not think we will see dramatic changes. As a result of the economic crisis, there has been a certain shift from the coastal areas, which rely on the global economy, to central and northwestern China. This shift can help with the imbalance in regional and overall development, but as industries move, crises concerning land, urbanization, the environment and resources are being repeated in inland areas.

I do not believe these crises will decline while China’s development model is unchanged. Conflict will not weaken because the economy is growing, but it will intensify in some places.

There were an estimated 180,000 mass protest incidents last year and more than 60 percent had to do with land disputes, so exploring a flexible land system which can protect farmers’ interests is essential.

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