Peoples' power will reform China, says Qin Xiao
"The market system is an indispensable component" ... Qin Xiao. Photo: Viki Yemettas
GROWING pressure from the Chinese public will force the new Xi Jinping administration to turn the world's most populous country to the path of political and economic reform, says one of Mr Xi's old family friends.
Qin Xiao, chairman of the high-powered Boyuan Foundation, will tell an American audience this week that his country must guard against any ''self-delusion'' that China's unique combination of a roaring economy and uncompromising political dictatorship can be sustained.
The Xi administration has already shown that it is aware that the current Chinese system cannot continue to support economic growth, he says, but public pressure is nevertheless required to force it to overcome the collusion of money and politics, break old ideological moorings and embark on a radical reform agenda to build a market economy and ''modern society''.
Dr Qin's ''public pressure'' thesis is being tested perhaps sooner than he expected as writers, lawyers, actors and public intellectuals boldly pledge support for what is effectively a mutiny at one of the Communist Party's flagship newspapers, the Southern Weekend.
Journalists walked out on Sunday in protest against a particularly ham-fisted episode of censorship.
''One word of truth outweighs the whole world,'' wrote actress Yao Chen, quoting Solzhenitsyn on her Weibo microblog account, which claims a staggering 31.7 million followers.
Han Han, arguably China's most influential young writer, also wrote in solidarity, saying China's artists and writers are perpetually vulnerable to a censorship system that is invisible but omnipresent.
''You can have so-called freedom because they have freedom to punish you,'' he said in a blog post that was forwarded tens of thousands of times despite being promptly shut down. ''To meet their rules, the only way is to become them.''
Qin Xiao claims a licence to speak out because he is a product of the Communist Party system.
Dr Qin knows Mr Xi well, as his father fought under him, and he is related by marriage to the family of one of the great marshals of the communist revolution. His courageous critique of what is sometimes held up as the ''China model'' carries extra weight because he was until recently one of the captains of Chinese state capitalism, chairman of the China Merchants Group and previously general manager of CITIC Group.
Dr Qin will outline a list of specific economic structural reforms that are needed to rebalance the Chinese economy. Ultimately, however, he says a sustainable Chinese economy requires far-reaching change to enable it to evolve from a ''traditional'' society.
''The market system is an indispensable component of a modern society,'' Dr Qin will tell an audience at the New York Stock Exchange, according to his prepared speech obtained by Fairfax Media. ''The market's free-trading system, however, requires the support of institutional infrastructure including democracy, rule of law, protection of property rights, open and transparent information, clear boundaries between the government and the market … ''
Dr Qin is also preparing to tell a separate audience that China's current lack of directional clarity creates mistrust with the United States, a relationship that will ''to a very large extent determine the future of the world''.
''Its traditional ideology and institutions will hinder its modernisation while the externalities will also inevitably affect international relations,'' he will tell a Track Two China-US economic dialogue in New York, according to his speech.
''The currently thriving 'China model', statism, nationalism, and populism send the message to the outside world that China not only rejects universal values and modern social institutions at home but also seeks to establish a Chinese version of order, rules and values globally,'' he says.