Rule of law must follow China's path

By Martin Sieff
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, October 24, 2014
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American and European observers, however, may hesitate before celebrating the plenum for its historic significance for reforms, because the plenum has emphasized the leading role of the Party in the country's "socialist rule of law". They may urge the Chinese leadership to further expedite reform efforts according to the West's "action now" agenda.

The deepening reform, however, is aimed at establishing a fair and just society. The scale of the program will be enormous given its admirable aim, and it will benefit from established institutions and past reform efforts. Also, increasing the independence and status of the judiciary will be crucial for the success of the program.

The success of the program will depend on the extent to which the law-enforcement and judicial departments change to meet the needs of the people. Here it is important to recall that the disastrous failure of former Russian president Boris Yeltsin's crash privatization and "instant free market" reform in the 1990s was the direct result of the impatience and messianic mania of Western, especially US, experts that the Kremlin naively turned to after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. In contrast, China has made it clear that in implementing its legal and judicial reform, it will stick to its own path and never blindly follow the Western model of division of power.

This is bound to invite criticisms from many Western media outlets and even official circles. Such criticisms should be ignored by China. The bane of constructive social reformers around the world in the last quarter century has been the inability of so many Americans and Europeans to recognize that different societies and cultures must be allowed to evolve differently and adapt to the changes at their own pace, a pace that suits their different economic conditions, political systems and historical experiences.

China should be guided in its judicial reform, as it has so successfully been in its economic miracle, by its own experiences and pragmatic results. And it should keep at arm's length the abstract ideological and sweeping theoretical solutions imposed by unworldly Western theorists.

The author is a senior fellow at the American University in Moscow, a columnist for the Post-Examiner online newspapers in the US, and has the book, Shifting Superpowers: The New and Emerging Relationship between the United States, China and India, to his credit.


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