Noted economist: ten pieces of advice to China’s reform and opening up


Wu Jinglian is one of the preeminent economists in China, renowned for his resolute conviction that socialism is compatible with a market system. He is also a member of the Standing Committee of the CPPCC.

On December 20, at a Think Tank Forum, Wu made his remarks about China’s reform and opening up, called the “ten pieces of advice to the CCP about China’s reform and opening up”. His remarks were deleted soon after they were posted on social media, as the communist government won’t want the Chinese people to see such viewpoints.

We have the remarks translated as follows:

Advice One: China needs concrete reforms. This is the hope of most Chinese, including myself. The process of reform has never been smooth, and setbacks are inevitable. But the establishment of a market economy and a society with the rule of law is the trend. Apart from this, China has no other way out. At this critical moment, every one of us needs to make his contribution.

Advice Two: To avoid social crisis, we must be determined to push ahead the reform towards a market economy, the rule of law and democracy, not orally but with real actions. This includes setting up an inclusive economic system and political system, and the realization of a successful transition from autocracy to democracy. To all of us, this is the only way out for China.

Advice Three: Without any doubt, we shall allow free and factual discussions on reform theories and practical issues. Or as Coase has said, the establishment of a theoretical market is the prerequisite of reforms. Under circumstances of letting tens of thousands of horses rest idle, there won’t be any real reforms. This is a viewpoint put forward in the 1980s by socialist reformers in Eastern Europe, proved to be true after implementation. It is still meaningful to put it into practice at a time of deepening reforms. Reforms have always been coupled with conflicts, tempering and complements between different ideas, ideologies and solutions.

Advice Four: The Soviet ideology still has a strong impact on this generation of Chinese, and it’s a great burden. Will it be good for our next generation? I don’t think so. The orientation has a serious problem, and our way of thinking is still continuing with the impact. In our textbooks and research papers, we have not cleaned up the Soviet ideology completely. It is still powerful. Some people are still using this ideology as a banner against ideas of reform.

Advice Five: Under China’s situation, those vested interest holders who have gained huge benefits from power rent-seeking still use their power and the advantages of the media to drag the society to the extreme right wing. Without another force to stop this process, state capitalism will evolve into power capitalism, or so-called bureaucrat capitalism or feudal/comprador-like state monopoly.

Advice Six: If China continues to strengthen its state control over the economy and society, encouraging administrative power to interfere with market activities and making it right by kind of theoretical packaging, this is very dangerous. If we continue with this road, what China gains will not be socialism with Chinese characteristics, but state capitalism or power capitalism.

Advice Seven: Traditionally China has been a dictatorship for a long history. After the practice of Lenin-Stalin style of political and economic system for many years, the transition could be hard and tedious. Although China has made some improvement towards a market economy, the system to allocate the resources in the shortage economy still needs other systematic support. Otherwise, a competitive market for free exchanges cannot be ensured. The interference of power causes the market to work by the rule of the jungle, and thus makes the whole economy a market for power rent-seeking.

Advice Eight: In recent years, as a result of administrative interference in micro-economic activities, power instead of market has become the guiding force in resources allocation. A market without free competition is only a casino-like market. To establish a modern market economic system, this issue must be solved.

Advice Nine: In recent years, China has fallen into a vicious circle: The interference of monopoly and administrative power in allocation of resources and micro-economic activities has expanded the base for power rent-seeking, thus causing widespread corruption. Under the guidance of wrong media propaganda, market reform was forced to take the responsibility of related crimes. And this has in turn become the reason for strengthening administrative interference and state monopoly.

Advice Ten: Those who think that China has accomplished the tasks of economic reform have overestimated the achievements. As a matter of fact, some basic economic reform requirements written on documents have never been met. As one of the key reasons, after reform was reset in 1992, there has been an apparent defect: political reform has never been mentioned along with the economic reform as in the 1980s. In 1986, Deng Xiaoping made these remarks many times: without a political reform, the economic reform would go no where. At present, our economic reform is going backward. Failure in our state-owned enterprises reform and reform of government organizations in managing the economy is related to this backwardness in political and government reforms.

Translation by staff writer


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