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The Meaning of China’s ‘Reform’ Talk

By Li Jianfeng
Epoch Times Staff
Created: December 19, 2012 Last Updated: December 26, 2012
Related articles: Opinion » Thinking About China
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The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) seems to have a love affair with reform, as authorities have promoted it for more than 30 years and the word flows from their lips. But in reality, they dread it.

Head of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping, attends the opening session of the 18th Party Congress on Nov. 8, in Beijing. While the CCP likes the benefits it gets from its reforms, it actually doesn’t really like reform. (Feng Li/Getty Images)

Head of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping, attends the opening session of the 18th Party Congress on Nov. 8, in Beijing. While the CCP likes the benefits it gets from its reforms, it actually doesn’t really like reform. (Feng Li/Getty Images)

China’s new Party leader, Xi Jinping, on his first official trip this month, traced the road the reformer Deng Xiaoping traveled 20 years ago. Deng is credited for opening up China’s economy to world markets. Xi has relabeled reform as “the great awakening in the history of the CCP,” and connected it with China’s “dream of revival.”

In the past, the CCP has compared reform with the revolution that helped CCP to take power. Now the CCP raises its reform to the height of an “awakening.”

Of course, reforming is not awakening. It is also impossible for the CCP to be awakened through reform. The truth is that the CCP is now facing a crisis of survival.

There are several reasons why the CCP values reform so much and touts it as the supreme objective.

First, reform once did save the CCP. The CCP’s first reform started 30 years ago against the background of its earlier closed-door policy. The Cultural Revolution nearly caused the collapse of Chinese society. After the deaths of Zhu De, Zhou Enlai, and Mao Zedong, the CCP was faced with imminent disaster. In desperation, the CCP used reform as a life saving tactic. Thus, reform began in rural areas and then spread to cities, resulting in the terms “China model” and “Chinese characteristics.” It can be said that this reform saved the CCP.

Second, reform is a convenient fig leaf that can cover up all kinds of misdeeds when development becomes the leading principle.

The CCP has been “reforming” for more than three decades, but has not made the slightest improvement in its dictatorship—only strengthened it. It opposes liberalization, ordered the 1989 Tiananmen student massacre, and harshly suppresses human rights defenders and spiritual groups like the Falun Gong. Nevertheless, the CCP vigorously advocates and praises its reform movement and has packaged its history as a history of reform and opening up.

Today, many people are suspicious of the CCP’s reform and take it as a fabricated myth, but seriously lack an understanding of the CCP’s misdeeds.

Third, the CCP’s reform talk undermines people’s trust.

The CCP’s reform is merely confined to economic reform. Because the CCP firmly controls the basic necessities that ordinary people care about most, it can therefore appeal to most of the people. In addition, its deceptive propaganda makes people believe that though the CCP has done many wrongs, it is gradually changing and improving. Many people think that as long as the economy improves and people are no longer hungry, other things can be ignored. This is the CCP’s propaganda ploy, and many Chinese people buy into it, thus becoming deceived.

In actuality, it is the CCP that is the largest and ultimate beneficiary of its reforms. Li Keqiang recently said, “Reform is the biggest bonus.” The bonus is basically enjoyed by the interests groups within the CCP. The common people do not share much in it, and so it has created China’s deformed society: a rich country with poor people.

But while the CCP likes the benefits it gets from its reforms, it actually doesn’t really like reform.

One reason is that the CCP’s reforms are passive; the CCP is forced into them because of a crisis.

The other reason the CCP doesn’t like reform, and this is the most fundamental one, is that however it reforms, the essential things of the CCP—its authoritarian rule, its monopoly on power, and its repression of the Chinese people—not only do not change, but become more intensified.

The CCP has made certain areas off limits to reform. What can and cannot be changed is strictly delimited. It is not as simple as what the CCP makes it appear when it speaks about “shallow and deep water area” reforms.

Today, the CCP again emphasizes reform. Xi has talked about it since taking office. Why? It’s because the CCP is facing another crisis state. Internally it has been split by power struggles, and externally it is losing the trust of the people.

Reform can cover up the crisis and divert attention away from the real problem. But, the CCP does not really like reforms, and certainly does not reform for the sake of the people’s benefit.

Read the original Chinese article.

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