Magazine article Foreign Policy

54 Yu Jianrong: For Daring to Be Specific about How to Change China

Magazine article Foreign Policy

54 Yu Jianrong: For Daring to Be Specific about How to Change China

Article excerpt

Director, Center for the Study of Social Problems | China

China's leaders often declare publicly that their country needs to "reform." "Reform can only move forward," Premier Wen Jiabao waxed after the country's rubber-stamp legislature met in March. "It cannot stagnate. Even more so, it can't move backward." But China's mandarins rarely elaborate on just what reform means, preferring instead to govern by cryptic slogans and vague pronouncements.

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Not so Yu Jianrong, the rare Chinese academic who has taken up the challenge of defining how exactly China could change course--and from inside the system. In April, he released a succinct, two-phase plan he called a "10-Year Outline of China's Social and Political Development." Despite its bland title, Yu's blueprint offers a timetable for Chinese reform that for once is as credible as it is ambitious. The plan puts dates and specifics to the task, advocating, for example, a stronger law on private property, the revealing of "information pertaining to government affairs" and "officials' property," and the abolition of "speech crimes," after which China should "open up" the media and political parties. …

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