Domestic Affairs

Political reform paved way for economic growth

By Chen Xuefei (
Updated: 2011-04-19 17:24
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China's rapid economic progress shocked the world. It gave people the impression that China only made economic reforms but not political ones. That is not a complete picture. In fact, it is the political reform that has paved the way to rapid economic development.

In 1978, China completely changed the leftist idea of "rather wanting the socialist grass than capitalist crops," which was to play down ideology and take a down-to-earth attitude in making decisions according to the people's will. The first decision was to give farmers land so that they can choose their own crops. This policy aroused great enthusiasm from over 80 percent of the Chinese population—farmers in production of food and clothes. People enjoyed great freedom in what they wanted to grow on their land. This policy greatly improved farmers’ living standard.

Second, with formal regulations, the retirement of the older generation vacated many positions for the younger generation of leaders. That injected new blood in the Chinese leadership. With an open mind, great vitality was seen in Chinese society with the experiment of letting state-owned system, collective-owned system and private-owned system co-exist. The three kinds of ownerships complemented each other, creating a lot of jobs and producing a large amount of products so that China’s society made real progress –having enough goods in the market.

Third, respect knowledge, respect talents. This is a great human rights improvement when the intellectuals gained their rights to work in important positions. Letting people who are capable of leading lead was a big change from the politically correct manner of the past.

Fourth, China realized an orderly shift in leadership. Before that there was still the practice of some leaders being in the position for life and then their son would inherit the position.

The system of being a cadre for life was abolished after 1990. Chinese leaders can be in the position just for one five-year term or at most two terms. This system paved the way for capable young leaders to get into the right position to carry on the party and government policies so that the development becomes more efficient.

China's biggest reform is also allowing businessmen to be in the party and in government as well as in law-making through National People's Congress. This way, the interest of all parties - women, children, teachers, workers, business people, ethnic minorities from all over the country - are represented in the Chinese parliament, National People's Congress.

China can set up its long-term, mid-term and annual goals focusing on how to improve the people’s living standards, and more important, to strictly implement them. China also rationally controlled its population to fit resources, environmental limitations and balancing the factors. During the next five-year plan, China is steering toward a moderate, greener development direction, which is a very responsible initiative for the earth, for mankind and for the Chinese people.

All of the progress doesn't mean that China doesn't need further political reforms. China will continue to consolidate its law-enforcement and fight against corruption. Continue to get rid of nepotism, increase media and public supervision. China needs further reform to allow all its citizens, both farmers and workers, to enjoy social welfare.

There is also a need to put the government's political aim into the natural and social environment through housing construction, architecture and all the economic and social activities so that people can really feel whatever is done, people should be at the center.

Sustainable development is just about change and reform of our society to adapt to new situations and meet the demand of the people, both in material and cultural needs.

The author is a freelance journalist who focuses on sustainable development. She can be reached at