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Reform not a lab experiment, says Chinese daily

Posted on Nov 09, 12:27PM | IANS

A state-run Chinese daily Friday cautioned against wading into political reform since "it's hard to either copy a former example, or prepare an overall blueprint beforehand".

"Amid the leadership transition, political reform in China has attracted increasing attention. This is a positive development," said an opinion piece in Global Times titled "Reform is not a lab experiment" by Fang Ning, director of the Institute of Political Science, at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

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, it said.

"These arguments, while they are well-intentioned, appear unprofessional," said the article which appeared a day after the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China began here Thursday.

"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," it added.

The opinion piece said that 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, it said and warned: "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."

It went on to say that "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," the daily said.

It added that 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".

"...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," the daily said.

The article stressed that 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."