Bet­ter gov­er­nance

So­cial in­equal­ity and lack of trust in the au­thor­i­ties show mod­ern­iza­tion of po­lit­i­cal sys­tem and mech­a­nisms needed

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - YU KEPING The au­thor is a pro­fes­sor and deputy di­rec­tor of the Cen­tral Com­pi­la­tion and Trans­la­tion Bureau. This is an ex­cerpt of his speech at a re­cent con­fer­ence on re­form staged by the bureau.

So­cial in­equal­ity and lack of trust in the au­thor­i­ties un­der­score the need for mod­ern­iza­tion of the po­lit­i­cal sys­tem and mech­a­nisms.

Of the many in­no­va­tive de­ci­sions made at the Third Ple­nary Ses­sion of the 18th Cen­tral Com­mit­tee of the Com­mu­nist Party of China as a blue­print for the on­go­ing re­form drive, the mod­ern­iza­tion of gov­er­nance is the most sig­nif­i­cant.

By high­light­ing the gov­er­nance sys­tem and gov­ern­ing ca­pa­bil­ity in the roadmap doc­u­ment re­leased af­ter the plenum, the Party has made clear the di­rec­tion of re­form is mod­ern­iz­ing its po­lit­i­cal sys­tem, which in turn re­quires sub­stan­tial in­no­va­tions in pol­i­tics, de­ci­sion­mak­ing pro­ce­dure, the ju­di­cial process, the bud­get and su­per­vi­sion. It is the ex­pe­ri­ence of re­form over the past 35 years that has high­lighted the im­por­tance of im­prov­ing the State gov­er­nance sys­tem and the Party’s gov­er­nance ca­pa­bil­i­ties. For the past 35 years, China owes its con­stant eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and so­cial sta­bil­ity largely to con­tin­u­ous re­form, which has been gov­er­nance mod­ern­iza­tion in essence. Now the plenum has of­fered the needed the­o­ret­i­cal sup­port for fur­ther gov­er­nance mod­ern­iza­tion with the roadmap doc­u­ment.

Gov­er­nance mod­ern­iza­tion is also a re­sponse to the se­ri­ous chal­lenges that China is en­coun­ter­ing in its de­vel­op­ment: vested in­ter­est groups, in­creas­ingly fierce con­flicts of in­ter­ests, wors­en­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion, so­cial in­jus­tice and the lack of pub­lic trust in the au­thor­i­ties. Th­ese chal­lenges mean China’s cur­rent gov­ern­ing sys­tem and ca­pa­bil­i­ties are in­suf­fi­cient to meet the chang­ing needs of so­ci­ety. With­out in­no­va­tive re­forms, th­ese chal­lenges might pos­si­bly de­velop into a po­lit­i­cal cri­sis that poses a threat to the Party’s rule. As the doc­u­ment sets out, the ul­ti­mate so­lu­tion to the cri­sis lies in re­form that mod­ern­izes the State gov­er­nance sys­tem.

The suc­cess of such re­form lies in fur­ther eman­ci­pa­tion of the mind. This is be­cause gov­er­nance re­form, as a facet of the wide-rang­ing re­forms in the po­lit­i­cal regime, is po­lit­i­cally sen­si­tive and pol­i­cy­mak­ers may be­come over­cau­tious in the re­form process. As the cen­tral lead­er­ship em­pha­sized at the lat­est plenum, the eman­ci­pa­tion of the mind should know no bound­ary. Any new ideas and ap­proaches aimed at pro­mot­ing so­cial fair­ness and jus­tice and im­prov­ing peo­ple’s well-be­ing de­serve spe­cial at­ten­tion and ar­du­ous ef­forts should be made to en­cour­age them. Any gov­er­nance mech­a­nism that fails to meet peo­ple’s ex­pec­ta­tions and hin­ders the coun­try’s so­cial and po­lit­i­cal ad­vance­ment should be re­moved.

Yet, even with fur­ther eman­ci­pa­tion of the mind, gov­er­nance re­form will be no easy task, as the long­stand­ing prob­lems of frag­mented man­age­ment, short­sighted pol­icy ini­tia­tives, lo­cal­ism and poor co­or­di­na­tion among dif­fer­ent gov­ern­ment sec­tors in pol­i­cy­mak­ing have se­verely un­der­mined gov­er­nance at the na­tional level. That is why China’s gov­er­nance mod­ern­iza­tion calls for a top-level de­sign that is well co­or­di­nated, so it can go be­yond the pur­suit of im­me­di­ate and vested in­ter­ests and pro­mote broad dis­cus­sions in the de­ci­sion­mak­ing process to avoid any piece­meal ap­proach to prob­lems.

De­spite the afore­men­tioned prob­lems, it should be noted that gov­ern­ments at all lev­els have made re­lent­less ef­forts over the past 35 years of re­form and open­ing-up to ex­plore and in­no­vate ways of gov­er­nance and have ac­cu­mu­lated some ex­pe­ri­ence. Th­ese ma­ture gov­er­nance re­form ini­tia­tives should be taken as a ref­er­ence and even in­cor­po­rated into the State gov­er­nance sys­tem.

Mean­while, not only should lo­cal ex­pe­ri­ence be given credit, China should con­tinue to draw on the ex­pe­ri­ences of other coun­tries, which is what it has been do­ing over the past decades with the in­tro­duc­tion and im­ple­men­ta­tion of pub­lic hear­ings for pol­i­cy­mak­ing, one-stop pub­lic ser­vices, and gov­ern­ment ac­count­abil­ity, among other things.

China has un­de­ni­ably made great strides in pro­mot­ing democ­racy and the rule of law in re­cent decades, but the wor­ship of power above ev­ery­thing still pre­vails in Chi­nese of­fi­cial­dom. Suc­cess in gov­er­nance re­form will be im­pos­si­ble with­out stead­fast ef­forts be­ing made to up­root power wor­ship and place power in a cage of rules, as em­pha­sized by the cen­tral lead­er­ship.

The coun­try aims to achieve de­ci­sive out­comes in its re­form push by 2020, but a com­pre­hen­sive, sci­en­tific and ef­fec­tive gov­er­nance mech­a­nism will not come easy. Not only does it re­quire stead­fast de­ter­mi­na­tion and strong lead­er­ship, it also calls for broad-mind­ed­ness and su­pe­rior po­lit­i­cal wis­dom.

Its suc­cess lies in the wis­dom of both the lead­er­ship and the peo­ple, the par­tic­i­pa­tion of both po­lit­i­cal elites and the gen­eral pub­lic. It presents a true test for the Party’s ca­pa­bil­ity of po­lit­i­cal mo­ti­va­tion and en­tails strict ad­her­ence to the ba­sic guide­line of demo­cratic, law-based and sci­en­tific gov­er­nance.

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