United Daily News: China needs to practice democracy

When the Communist Party of China opens its 18th National Congress on Nov. 8, it will kick off a four-month power transition. The administration of Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao will be succeeded by a new leadership team headed by Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang. "Peaceful development" has been a hallmark of the Hu-Wen administration over the past 10 years, which saw China become the world's second-largest economy after the United States. Nothing, however, has been achieved when it comes to political reforms. The gap in political reforms was exposed by the 2012 Bo Xilai incident, while the award of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to human rights activist Liu Xiaobo allowed us to see some of the problems deriving from such a gap. The government's increasing difficultly in controlling the Internet and the eruption of large numbers of "mass incidents" every year give us a real picture of the situation. In terms of cross-Taiwan Strait relations, the signing of a peace agreement with Taiwan remains an unaccomplished goal of the Hu-Wen administration. Such an agreement requires that the two signatories stand on equal footing. Without a "big roof concept of one China," how is it possible to achieve the task? The future Xi-Li administration should not continue suppressing dissidents or impose Internet censorship. In order to preserve the results of peaceful development and social harmony, practicing democracy will be an unavoidable process. Also, China's democratic development will be crucial to the peaceful development of cross-strait ties. If Hu and Wen have created a peak for China's "peaceful development," Xi and Li should be at the starting point of "the practice of democracy." (Editorial abstract -- Nov. 7, 2012) (By Y.F. Low)