China must pursue democratic reforms to defuse economic and social imbalances threatening the country's stability, a former editor of the People's Daily said in a rare open call for political reform. Zhou Ruijin is a retired editor of the ruling Communist Party's mouthpiece who shot to fame in the early 1990s as a cheerleader for the market reform policies of former leader Deng Xiaoping and has since emerged as an advocate of political change.
On Monday the Southern Metropolis Daily, a tabloid in the commercial hub Guangzhou, published a bold interview with him suggesting that debate over the direction and pace of reform may reignite as China prepares for a big party meeting later this year.
Zhou told the newspaper that China is weighed down by crushing social and economic problems -- imbalances between its relatively wealthy east and poor west, waste of natural resources and environmental havoc, gaping income disparities, a threadbare social welfare net and rampant corruption. [Full Text]