Chinese Premier Calls For Urgent Political Reform
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  • Anthony

    “…it is impossible for an outsider to ever truly understand what is going on….” The stresses and strain that are part of transformative change seems to have pervaded globe.

  • Mark Michael

    StrategyPage posted about a Lt. Gen. Yazhou Liu who has been a strong advocate within the Chinese military for China to move in the direction of more democratic governance for many years. See:

    http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htlead/articles/20100819.aspx

    Quoting:

    “Chinese General Declares Democracy The Ultimate Weapon

    “August 19, 2010: Chinese Lieutenant General Yazhou Liu has been giving speeches to his fellow officers in which he insists that China must embrace democracy, or perish. Liu recently got promoted, and his speeches and published articles continue. What is going on here?

    “Liu has been pushing his ideas for nearly a decade. Five years ago, he was ordered to shut up. So his public presentation of these seemingly heretical ideas ceased. But Liu kept talking to military and government officials in private. Now he has been allowed to go public again. The way he presents his ideas is compelling. He points out that the American military has continued to innovate, increasing the gap between Chinese and U.S. military capabilities. This, despite over a decade of intense reform and upgrades in the Chinese military. This gets the attention of Chinese generals and admirals. Earlier, the Chinese brass were appalled at how quickly the Americans demolished Iraqi forces (using weapons and tactics similar to what China has) in 1991 and 2003. The Chinese military leadership was also shocked at how much the American forces had improved between 1991 and 2003. The quick conquest of Afghanistan in 2001 was also an unpleasant surprise, as this was a very different war than the two in Iraq. Chinese commanders speak boldly, and publicly, of how they are developing methods to defeat all this American cleverness, but Liu knows better, and his private conversations with fellow generals has changed a lot of minds.

    “Liu’s backing of democracy is purely practical, and really has nothing to do with political beliefs. He describes American democracy as a system designed by a genius for effective use by stupid people. As Liu puts it, ‘a bad system makes a good person behave badly while a good system makes a bad person behave well. Democracy is the most important reform for China, for without it there can be no sustainable growth.”’

    “Liu has also been active in anti-corruption efforts, and points out that democracies tend to have far less corruption than non-democracies. This gets the attention of Communist Party officials, who have long believed that the Russians made a mistake by enacting economic reforms as well as political ones. Liu points out that the Russians had no choice, as the communists in Russia were completely discredited, and the economic reforms followed the political collapse.”

  • re Mark Michael’s link

    One voice does not a movement make. Let readers be the judge. Here is the entire piece:

    “Chinese General Declares Democracy The Ultimate Weapon
    August 19, 2010: Chinese Lieutenant General Yazhou Liu has been giving speeches to his fellow officers in which he insists that China must embrace democracy, or perish. Liu recently got promoted, and his speeches and published articles continue. What is going on here?

    Liu has been pushing his ideas for nearly a decade. Five years ago, he was ordered to shut up. So his public presentation of these seemingly heretical ideas ceased. But Liu kept talking to military and government officials in private. Now he has been allowed to go public again. The way he presents his ideas is compelling. He points out that the American military has continued to innovate, increasing the gap between Chinese and U.S. military capabilities. This, despite over a decade of intense reform and upgrades in the Chinese military. This gets the attention of Chinese generals and admirals. Earlier, the Chinese brass were appalled at how quickly the Americans demolished Iraqi forces (using weapons and tactics similar to what China has) in 1991 and 2003. The Chinese military leadership was also shocked at how much the American forces had improved between 1991 and 2003. The quick conquest of Afghanistan in 2001 was also an unpleasant surprise, as this was a very different war than the two in Iraq. Chinese commanders speak boldly, and publicly, of how they are developing methods to defeat all this American cleverness, but Liu knows better, and his private conversations with fellow generals has changed a lot of minds.

    Liu’s backing of democracy is purely practical, and really has nothing to do with political beliefs. He describes American democracy as a system designed by a genius for effective use by stupid people. As Liu puts it, ”a bad system makes a good person behave badly while a good system makes a bad person behave well. Democracy is the most important reform for China, for without it there can be no sustainable growth.”

    Liu has also been active in anti-corruption efforts, and points out that democracies tend to have far less corruption than non-democracies. This gets the attention of Communist Party officials, who have long believed that the Russians made a mistake by enacting economic reforms as well as political ones. Liu points out that the Russians had no choice, as the communists in Russia were completely discredited, and the economic reforms followed the political collapse.

    Liu points out that communists can compete in a democratic environment, especially since Chinese communists have abandoned the most destructive aspects of traditional communist doctrine (state control of the economy). But growing corruption, especially among communist officials, is crippling China and threatens the economy, as well as continued communist control of the country. Better to compete in a democratic environment, and risk losing national power, than to proceed with the current system and risk everything. Liu is being listened to by a lot of senior officials, both military and government, who back clean government. But the “dirty communists” are opposed, and that is a formidable opponent for someone like Liu.

    Liu is a special kind of officer. He’s a political officer, a job invented by the Russians during the Soviet period. The political officer is assigned to units from company size on up, and is second in command of the unit. The political officer is responsible for the political loyalty of all the officers and troops in the unit. He also acts as a (non-religious) chaplain, morale officer and publicist for the unit. These days, political officers rarely say much about communist doctrine, as few Chinese care for it. Political officers do serve as a source of grassroots information on what’s going on with the troops, and the word is that corruption is a big issue with military personnel as well. Change is in the air, whether communist officials want it or not. Liu offers a way out, but there’s no guarantee that enough of these officials will take it.”

  • “. . . A bad system makes a good person behave badly while a good system makes a bad person behave well. Democracy is the most important reform for China, for without it there can be no sustainable growth.”

    I say two cheers for Liu. He certainly knows whereof he speaks – at least from the Beijing side of things. As to his motives for reform being more pragmatic than ideological, is that necessarily a bad thing? Who’s to say the best reasons for doing the right things aren’t also the humblest? (If nothing else the latter help keep us from having an exaggerated opinion of ourselves – or worse, of our aspirations and “ideals”). One question, though:

    What do you call a system that makes a good person behave badly YET “productively”? (as in generating – or encouraging the generation of – record profits largely out of thin air, in ways that create an unsustainable momentum for whole sectors of the economy: e.g., the construction industry, etc . . .)

    You’ve already guessed what my answer, haven’t you? (I’m nothing if not predictable.) I call it Chimerica c. 1995-2008.

  • Don’t misunderstand what is happening here. The calls for more democracy are nothing more than rejections of Mao-ism, not rejections of communism. Bo was discarded because he was trying to revive at least some aspects of Mao-ism and that could lead to a degree of instability that cannot be tolerated. And politically, being anti-corruption is apple-pie and motherhood everywhere. It plays well but doesn’t really mean much. The leadership is far more intent on keeping the lid on than they are in any particular political idea.

  • Here is a more recent link about Liu Yazhou (also knows as Yazhou Liu in the Western press):

    “Qian Liqun’s article discusses Air Force Lt. Gen. Liu Yazhou, who is also the Air Force deputy political commissar and the son-in-law of former President Li Xiannian. Liu is the representative of the military’s young turks.

    Like the princelings—the sons of the founding generation of the CCP—who hold key positions of power, Liu’s goal is to “ensure my father’s rule lasts generation after generation” and to enhance “the ruling position of our party.”

    What makes Liu Yazhou different from the princelings is that he is by nature a militarist. What’s most dangerous is that he supports the military’s intervention in politics.

    In Liu Yazhou’s eyes, “China’s hope is in the Party. The Party’s hope is in the Central [Military] Commission. The Central Commission’s hope is from the higher ups,” but the real elites “are mostly in the military.” In his judgment, in less civilized countries, “the military is the force behind revolutions.”

  • Here’s a nice quote from Liu Yazhou in the NYT: “”Central Asia is the thickest piece of cake given to the modern Chinese by the heavens.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/03/world/asia/03china.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

  • Kris

    [email protected]: “One voice does not a movement make.”
    [email protected]: “Liu is the representative of the military’s young turks.”

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