Finding consensus via effective debate

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Global Times, March 7, 2011
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China's annual meetings of the NPC and CPPCC are tackling the daunting task of improving the public's happiness in a test of the ruling party's ability.

The two sessions focus on income tax, housing, education and other social concerns. As such, it can be expected that the country's ongoing campaign to improve livelihoods will see major achievements. However, this is only half of the task ahead.

With far better material resources than a decade ago, people are still less happy overall. Concern about social injustice has both boosted the government's determination to tackle it and formed greater expectation for improvements to livelihood. Whether China's real ability matches people's expectations will be determinant.

Previous experience has indicated that China does not lack the motivation or ability to solve problems, but lacks an accurate information flow and suffers from incomplete communications between different levels of society. Due to insufficient confidence in governments of all levels, civil speculation is sometimes more powerful than government information. There is no consensus on what people want and what the country can provide.

The two sessions should help Chinese society solve this problem. Representatives are increasingly in direct contact with society and their discussions can more accurately reflect the real situation. They can express their differences and ultimately reach a real compromise.

Chinese people are often not used to public debating. Once engaging in a debate, some tend to get emotional, relying on simplified slogans. Many representatives are un-der great pressure from the expectation of the public.

Whether experts and professionals dare to speak the truth often affects the public attitude toward a bill or a proposal.

From a sociological perspective, it is inevitable to have social disquiet. China used to resolve this dissatisfaction quietly, which is becoming more and more difficult due to the advent of microblogs and other media.

The two sessions should not only be encouraging but also realistic. They are taking great strides toward political democracy, but democracy is a long chain, which needs the cooperation of all parts of society.

Society's expectations of happiness should be based on China's national conditions, rather than be led by emotional slogans.

China is transforming its increasing national strength and international status into better social welfare. This has to be achieved, but the process will be arduous.

The two sessions should pass this information on unreservedly to Chinese society. The government should not attempt to reorganize or scrub over this information.

Instead, the government should allow a variety of information to mix and find a balance. Thus, the social expectations can avoid being manipulated by any one snippet of information.

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