Wen promises political reforms but only under CPC leadership

Virtually ruling out introduction of multi-party democracy in the country, 69-year-old Wen said the nation would seek political reform but gave no proposals or a timetable for opening up the political system.

Apparently mindful of the impact of a political upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa, the premier rejected any comparison between conditions in his country and revolutions taking place in the Arab world.

With hardly two years left for his term, Wen, regarded as a reformer and an advocate of political reforms to loosen the grip of party on state structure, said political restructuring should be pushed forward in an orderly way as it requires stable and harmonious social conditions.

"It is by no means easy to pursue political restructuring in a big country like China with 1.3 billion people. It requires a stable and harmonious social environment and it needs to be taken up in orderly way under the leadership of the party (CPC)," he said at his annual press conference telecast live all over the country.

The press conference came at the end of the annual session of China's legislature, National People's Congress (NPC), which firmly ruled out multi-party democracy.

Chairman of the NPC Wu Bangguo, who is ranked second in CPC hierarchy above Wen in the politburo, said in his address during the weekend China would slip into a possible "abyss of internal disorder" if it strays from the "correct political orientation".

China will never adopt a "multi-party revolving-door system or other Western-style political models", Wu said, dismissing attempts by dissidents groups to stir up Arab-style protests.

Wen briefly referred to political turbulence sweeping Gulf and northern African countries, but ruled out chances of such unrest taking place in China asserting that any analogy between it and those countries is "not right".

"We have embarked on a development path that fits China's national conditions," Wen said, adding that China will continue to "put people's interests first".

His comments came as overseas dissident groups tried to stir up Arab-style protests during past few weeks. Chinese police averted them with stepped security.

Several foreign journalists have been warned that their accreditations and visas will be cancelled if any rules were violated in providing proactive coverage for such incidents.

Arguing that political and economic restructuring should be pushed forward in a coordinated way, Wen said political restructuring offers guarantee for economic restructuring.

Without political restructuring, economic restructuring would not succeed, he said.
Asked what kind of legacy he would leave behind besides his views on direct elections in the country, Wen, who along with President Hu Jintao will retire in December next year to pave way for new leadership of the party, said talks about his retirement is too bit premature.

"I believe reform is an internal theme of history. Nothing in this world stays inevitable. It is only with reform that we can ensure continuous existing and growth. It is only with reform our party and country will enjoy continuous vigour and vitality," he said in his nearly two and hour long press conference.

Last year Wen had to endure a snub of sorts after the party's organ People's Daily came out with an editorial ruling out any opening on political front soon after his assertions at a public function that political reforms were necessary to protect the gains of gains of economic reforms.

Wen reiterated his line today.
"Without political restructuring the economic restructuring would not succeed and the achievements we have made in the economic restructuring may be lost," he said.
Wen identified corruption as a major issue for China to grapple beside ensuring equitable educational opportunities.

"At present corruption poses the biggest danger. To eliminate the breeding ground of the corruption we should pursue institutional reforms. If we are to address the people's grievances and meet their wishes, we must create conditions to people to criticise and supervise the government," he said.

"Fairness and justice are defining features of socialism, reform the foundation of social stability. We must promote fairness in income and distribution and gradually narrow the widening income gap," he said.

"At the same time we should also promote fairness in the distribution of educational medical and health services so that all people will be able to share the fruits of China's reform and opening," he said.

He also briefly spoke about election NPC deputies and village heads.
"I believe we must pursue a step by step approach in this process," he said.

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