Lack of reform may invite another Cultural Revolution: Wen

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - 19:58

Beijing: China risks repeat of the upheaval
of the `Cultural Revolution` unless the one party-ruled
Communist nation opts for "urgent" political reforms, Premier
Wen Jiabao warned today in a dramatic farewell address.

Wen raised the spectre of a new Cultural Revolution in
which late Chinese strongman Mao Zedong purged the reformists
in the party, as a parting shot after a 10-year-term as Prime
Minister to tell the country`s closed leadership that lack of
reform may invite such chaos again.

A vocal proponent of political reforms, 69-year-old Wen
made his most strident call for change in the nationally
televised annual press conference, saying that without
political reforms, economic reforms cannot be carried out.

Saying that "reform in China has come to a critical
stage", Wen said, "Without a successful political structural
reform it is impossible for us to fully institute economic
structural reform and the gains we have made in this area may
be lost."

Wen was addressing the media at the conclusion of the
annual session of the National People`s Congress (NPC), which
will be his last as he is set to step down later this year.

While pressing his case for reforms, Wen evoked the
spectre of Mao`s decade long Cultural Revolution that ended in
1976 in which thousands were eliminated in the name of
ideological purges, leaving China economically bankrupt.

Wen reminded the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC)
that the struggle by Mao`s successor, Deng Xiaoping against
Mao wife Jiang Qing, who committed suicide in 1991 and her
supporters known as the gang of four who opposed the reforms.

"After the crackdown on the gang of four our party
adopted the resolution on several historical matters and took
the important decision of conducting reform and opening in
China. However the mistake of Cultural Revolution and impact
feudalism yet to be fully eliminated," he said.

"New problem that have cropped up in China`s society
which will not be fundamentally resolved and such historical
tragedy as the Cultural Revolution may happen again," he
warned in his three-hour-long press conference.

Not elaborating much on what he meant by political
reform, Wen said he was aware that to bring political reforms
was not easy in China.

"It will not be able to succeed without consciousness,
support, enthusiasm and creativity of our people. To conduct
such reform in our big country with 1.3 billion people is not
easy," he said.

"The reform can only go forward. The reform must not be
standstill, still less go backward because that offers no way
out," he said.

"I believe any member of the party and government
official with sense of responsibility must fully recognise
that this is an urgent task," he said.

Significantly, Wen said he would carry on his struggle
for reforms even after his retirement this year, setting off
speculation that reformists headed by him may press hard for
more opening up at the proposed 18th Congress of the CPC
expected to be held in November to elect new leadership.

"I would like to tell you with a single breath I fully
dedicate to advance China`s reform and opening up cause," Wen
said.

Wen along with President Hu Jintao and other top leaders
that presided over economic reforms in China were set to
retire this year. A new leadership headed by Vice President Xi
Jinping was expected to take over from next year.

This is not the first time Wen has spoken about
reforms. He took everybody, including many leaders of his
party and government, by surprise to make it the main theme of
his last press conference.

He referred to the case of a village by name Wukan in
Guangdong province where villagers revolted against the local
leadership over land issues and the government was forced to
conduct free elections to elect a new leadership.

The Chinese Communist Party, which has ruled the country
since its founding in 1949, in its resolution at the last
year`s Parliament session has ruled out multi-party system in
any form.

"China will never adopt a multi-party revolving-door
system or other Western-style political models," Wu Banguo,
the Chairman of the NPC said last year.

Wu is ranked second above Wen in party hierarchy and
is placed next president Hu Jintao.

Without talking about multi-party polls, Wen while
referring to Wukan village polls said if the elections at the
village levels were successful they could be extended to
townships and counties.

When asked about criticism regarding his own policies, he
said the government should create conditions to allow people
to criticise.

The Government must seriously reflect on public criticism
and take and as food for thought while taking decision on
major issues, he said.

Though he will continue be in the office till the
next year, Wen virtually said good bye to the media saying
that this is his last meeting with them.

"I have served Premier for nine difficult but momentous
years. I often feel that much works remains to be finished.
Many things have to be properly addressed and there are many
regrets," he said.

"I sincerely hope people will forget me and all the
concrete things I have done for them and they will fall into
oblivion and one day I shall go to my eternal rest," he said.

"Due to incompetent abilities and institutional and
other factors there is still much room for improvement in my
work.

"Although I have never committed any intentional error
in my work because of dereliction of duty as head of the top
executive body of the country I should assume the
responsibility for the problems that have been occurred," he
said.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - 12:28

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