Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

Reform is not a lab experiment #China [Global Times]


Global Times: On the back of an earlier article published in November which had other leading Chinese academics questioning his views – see Political reform doesn’t need blueprint, says academic Fang Ning (South China Morning Post, November 1, 2012), Fang Ning weighs in again after dismissing the practicality of roadmaps and timetables in political reform as they may not always sync with wider change.

Facing significant issues like political reform, decision-makers need comprehensive, profound studies. One-sided theories can prove meaningless. Decision-makers must be extremely cautious. Fang Ning, 2012

To check out more, see China Institute of Political Science OR Fang Ning’s profile here.

– – –

Reform is not a lab experiment
by Fang Ning
Source – Global Times, published November 9, 2012

People dressed in panda costumes hold placards celebrating the 18th National Party Congress at the high-tech zone in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, on Thursday. Photo: CFP, 2012

Amid the leadership transition, political reform in China has attracted increasing attention. This is a positive development. However, there are voices that say it lacks the proper theoretical guidelines, which has led to the relative slowness in political reform. This deserves further discussion.

There are long-held arguments that a “roadmap” and even a “timetable” is needed during China’s political reform process, and that a top-down design is indispensable for future reform. These arguments, while they are well-intentioned, appear unprofessional.

Experiences both at home and abroad have shown that successful political reforms largely had no theoretical guidance, but were carried out in practice over a long period of time.

In contrast, there are more than a few reforms that proved disastrous despite adequate theoretical preparation.

The political landscape, which includes various social problems and conflicts, is of great complexity.

Political dynamics are fluid. Accurate conclusions can’t be drawn through theoretical experiments, as if they were scientific experiments in laboratories.

Facing significant issues like political reform, decision-makers need comprehensive, profound studies. One-sided theories can prove meaningless. Decision-makers must be extremely cautious.

A poor political decision may cause suffering for generations, and even mislead the whole nation. What Gorbachev did to Russia is an excellent example.

Over the past three decades of political reform, China has conducted lots of experiments, acquired rich experiences, and gradually formed its own methodologies, the most important of which is “wading across the stream by feeling the way.”

In political reform, it’s hard to either copy a former example, or prepare an overall blueprint beforehand. It’s wiser to seek breakthroughs by addressing practical problems. This can reduce the risks brought about by blind assumptions or misjudgments.

Since the 1990s, China has launched many pilot projects, and there were small-scale trials before nearly all reform measures. History has already shown that “packaged solutions” must be avoided in political reform, otherwise a mistake in any link may lead to the failure of the whole reform process. Trials often help avoid bigger mistakes and disperse risks.

Moreover, taking comprehensive considerations into account and evaluating the overall effect of reform measures is pivotal. Political issues are entwined with each other, and a reform in one facet may cause problems in another. Even when a temporary success has been achieved, decision-makers should still keep cool-headed, and keep watching the follow-up effects, as well as how the reform proceeds over the long term and any side effects it may have.

“Wading across the stream by feeling the way” appears conservative, whereas a top-down design and theoretical plans sound more intriguing. However, political reform has great significance in terms of the nation’s prospects and public welfare, and cannot afford flippant, specious moves. Caring about political reform is one thing, while pragmatically carrying it out is another. The latter calls for scientific methodology, rich expertise, long-term field research and broad, international insight.

“Wading across the stream by feeling the way” stresses prioritizing the actual situation, respecting scientific methodology and seeking truth from facts. “Wading across the stream by feeling the way” does not sound poetic; it plainly tells the truth.

The author is director of the Institute of Political Science, at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Advertisements

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, global times, Government & Policy, History, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, New Leadership, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Social, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, Xi Jinping, , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,575 other followers

East/West headlines of Rising China

East/West headlines of Rising China

About Wandering China

Click to find out more about this project

Support //WC

Support Wandering China now - buy a Tee Shirt!

Be a champ - Support Wandering China - buy a Tee Shirt!

The East Wind Wave

China in images and infographics, by Wandering China

China in images and Infographics, by Wandering China

Wandering China: Facing west

Please click to access video

Travels in China's northwest and southwest

Wandering Taiwan

Wandering Taiwan: reflections of my travels in the democratic Republic of China

Wandering China, Resounding Deng Slideshow

Click here to view the Wandering China, Resounding Deng Slideshow

Slideshow reflection on Deng Xiaoping's UN General Assembly speech in 1974. Based on photos of my travels in China 2011.

East Asia Geographic Timelapse

Click here to view the East Asia Geographic Timelapse

A collaboration with my brother: Comparing East Asia's rural and urban landscapes through time-lapse photography.

Wandering Planets

Creative Commons License
Wandering China by Bob Tan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at Wanderingchina.org. Thank you for visiting //
web stats

Flag Counter

free counters
Online Marketing
Add blog to our directory.
%d bloggers like this: