Choosing imperfect reform over crisis

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With the 20th anniversary of former leader Deng Xiaoping's famed southern tour and the upcoming 18th Party Congress this autumn, reform has once again become a hot topic. Since 1978, China's reform has faced an increasingly wide range of challenges, just like a boat which enters a river at midstream.

True "reforms", which break down ideological barriers and affect real interests, undoubtedly will be met with strong criticism by those who benefit from the status quo. Most significant reforms that have occurred in China, such as the household contract responsibility system, salary reform, publicizing officials' property holdings, and reforms of public institutions have been met with controversy or even criticism during their adoption and implementation.

However, the difference between the reforms of today and those of earlier years is that modern reforms are deeper, wider and more thorough, despite encountering greater resistance. This is occurring because most of the easier reforms have already been implemented; what remain are the difficult ones which now cannot be avoided.

It is difficult for reforms to be perfect. After 30 years, China's reform process is entering a more complex and difficult period. No matter how well-calculated and wise the proposed changes are, they will always encounter opposition. Those with vested interests will use their advantaged positions to speak out against reforms, and new policies will also face scrutiny from the media and the public eye.

In the course of reform, the scariest part is not the voices of opposition, but for reform to halt immediately whenever different opinions arise. Facing the resistance of vested interests, uncontrollable risks, or the mirage of instability, some reforms lose momentum or cannot be carried out completely.

However, as has been said, "There are risks in reforms, but the entire Party (the Communist Party of China) will be in danger if there is no reform". Simply maintaining the status quo to avoid criticism will lead the Party and the country into a dead. In addition, sidelining reforms in the face of some systematic or technical obstacles could lead the Party into a bigger crisis.

Those who envision reforms with a utopian mindset must realize their expectations are often unreasonable. China's reformers, listening carefully to public opinions while being unswayed by rumors, must not only be wise and prudent but also brave and accountable.

20 years ago, Deng Xiaoping said, "Do not be afraid to face some risks, we have already developed a capacity of taking risks." With the progress of China's reform and opening up, the capacity and willingness of our Party to take risks must be strengthened.

From the beginning of the reform and opening up, the Party has focused on the future of the country and the people. With the courage and spirit of reform, our Party has become stronger and our country has become the second largest economy in the world.

We'd rather have criticism than crisis; as such, we'd rather have imperfect reforms than crises brought by no reform. To grasp the right timing for reforms, keeping in mind the prolonged stability and development of the Party as well as the country continue to be our highest priorities.

As President Hu Jintao said, facing a new era of reform, we should "advance reform in important areas and key links" and "continue to reform the economic, political, cultural and social systems in an innovative way." By doing this, we can minimize risks, pursue greater development, and bring a brighter future for our Party and our country.

This article was first published in People's Daily on Feb. 23, 2012 in Chinese, and translated by Lin Liyao.

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of


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