Protecting Rights, Checking Power…But How?
As part of the run-up to the 18th Party Congress this fall and subsequent leadership transition, China Media Project analyzes a full-poge spread in People’s Daily on political reform, which utilizes the catch-phrases, “protecting rights” and “checking power”:
In terms of breadth and boldness, the People’s Daily series is nothing to write home about. Most of the language is a song of self congratulation from China’s leaders about the progress they say they have already made on political reform.
On issues many would regard as fundamental to substantive and meaningful political reform, the People’s Daily series seems to shut the door. It says quite explicitly, for example, that “the leadership of the Party must be upheld”:
In actively and steadily promoting political reform we must uphold the fundamental political system and basic economic system of our country. We must uphold as one the three [principles of] the leadership of the Party, the people as masters of their own country (人民当家作主), and governing of the country by rule of law.
The obvious problem — arguably the crux of reform itself — is the clear conflict between the first priority, the firm commitment to the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, and the second and third priorities. Can there really be rule of law if Party leaders can manipulate the courts? And how is the mastery of the public to be exercised?
CMP also translates responses from readers concerned about how the Chinese government can check its own power without a separation of powers