Lack of reform may invite another Cultural Revolution: Wen



Lack of reform may invite another Cultural Revolution: Wen 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