Chinese Media Ignore Wen Jiabao’s Calls for ‘Political Reform’

May 11, 2011 Updated: October 1, 2015    

Since a speech in August 2010 marking the 30th anniversary of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, Wen Jiabao has called for political reform on various occasions 11 times, which the CCP official media has had little coverage.  (Feng Li/Getty Images)
Since a speech in August 2010 marking the 30th anniversary of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, Wen Jiabao has called for political reform on various occasions 11 times, which the CCP official media has had little coverage. (Feng Li/Getty Images)
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made another call for political and judicial reform during his April 27-28 two-day visit to Malaysia—but, as in the past, Chinese state media skipped over it in reports on the trip.

Reports from Communist Party mouthpieces Xinhua News Agency, CCTV, and People’s Daily focused on the economic and strategic cooperation between Beijing and Kuala Lumpur, but not Wen’s extemporaneous comments.

Wen had spoken in Kuala Lumpur to Chinese embassy staff, representatives of state-owned enterprises, the local Chinese community, and Chinese students studying in Malaysia.

Wen said China needs to carry out political, economic and judicial reforms, such that “Each individual, each organization is treated equally under law. This includes that each institute or organization should follow the principle of fairness. Those who are supported by the people will be selected.”

Since a speech in August 2010 given in Shenzhen marking the 30th anniversary of that city's Special Economic Zone, Wen Jiabao has called for political reform on eleven separate occasions. His remarks saw minimal coverage in Party-controlled media outlets.

Even so, Wen’s speech in Shenzhen was not without effect. Beijing’s Guangming Daily raised the issue, calling it a confrontation between the “socialist” democracy and the “capitalist” democracy.

Southern Daily, the newspaper run by Guandong Province’s party organization, published editorials in support of political reform.

Subsequently, Nanjing Modern Bulletin in Jiangsu Province and Xiaoxiang Morning Herald in Human Province broke ranks and supported Wen.

Nanjing Modern Bulletin published a full page of articles calling for political reform under the heading “Wen Jiabao speaks of political reform during CNN interview.” Many saw this as an attack on the Party launched by the “reformist” faction.

Pan Xiaotao, a veteran China watcher and commentator in Hong Kong, thinks that Wen is concerned about getting across his ideals as his term as premier approaches its end.

However, Pan considers Wen a lone voice in the CCP. Wen has spoken repeatedly about political reform, but none of the CCP leadership have publicly supported him or expressed agreement. Wen’s views have instead been openly rebutted in stiffly written editorials in People’s Daily.

According to Jin Zhong, editor-in-chief of the Hong Kong-based Open magazine, for Wen this is not a mere political show or lip service, but indicates a rift within the Communist Party.

Read the original Chinese article.