Central Party School Scholar Discusses Limited Party-Government Separation

With the 17th Party Congress less than one month away, an increasing number of Chinese scholars have come out in support of political liberalization in China. Most recently, in an interview with the PRC-owned Hong Kong newspaper Ta Kung Pao, Wang Guixiu, a professor at the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Central Party School, called for the Party Congress to develop a comprehensive framework that would help usher in political reform. (Ta Kung Pao, September 18). Wang stated that China’s rapid pace of economic reform and development needed to be accompanied by corresponding changes in the country’s political structure or else the country’s “in-depth economic structural reform” would be “seriously hindered.” Wang added that “the sole emphasis on economic structural reform while believing that political structural reform can be laid aside for the moment is wrong.”

Wang also called upon CCP leaders to embrace political liberalization, stating that there is nothing to fear. “Political structural reform will not necessarily bring instability; on the contrary, it is the fundamental way to safeguard and reinforce social stability…Only by establishing a truly effective social control system through political reform can we bring about lasting political stability in the country,” he contended. What was most notable about Wang’s statements was his call for the party to slowly disengage itself from the affairs of the Chinese government. Given China’s current Leninist political structure in which the CCP is intimately intertwined with government organs at all levels, such a statement from the influential academic at China’s bureaucratic finishing school is tantamount to a call for a complete restructuring of China’s political system. Wang argued, “From the perspective of specific approach, it is necessary to face up to the problem of the lack of distinction between the party and government work. Aside form managing its own party affairs and party building well, the ruling party [should] practice political leadership over the executive, judicial, and legislative organs, but not interfere in their specific affairs. Not only would a genuine separation of party work from government work not weaken the party’s leadership but it could improve and strengthen it.” In his statements to Ta Kung Pao, Wang also addressed the issue of establishing a democratic political system, stating, “Democracy should begin with the upper echelons in the party, and grassroots democracy should be continuously advanced at the same time so that the top-down mode is integrated with the bottom-up mode.”