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Links 1 through 10 of 30 by David Bandurski tagged reform

In a report today, the official China News Service reviews the discussion in China over the need for fairer income distribution (policies to support the lower and middle classes), pointing out that pending plans for income distribution have been touted every year since 2004, always fizzling. Meanwhile, income disparity in China has continued to rise. According to the China News Service report, the wealth of the wealthiest 10% of Chinese in 1988 was 7.3 times that of the poorest 10%. In 2010, Wang Xiaolu (王小鲁), the deputy head of the China Reform Foundation's National Economic Research Institute (NERI), said that per capita income among the wealthiest 10% of Chinese families was 65 times greater than that of the poorest 10% of families.

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In an interview published by China Economic Weekly, a spin-off publication of the CCP's official People's Daily, Chinese economist Wu Jinglian (吴敬琏) argues that China must pursue political reform in order to have continued economic success. In the interview, promoted to the news page at QQ.com today, Wu says: "Aside from economic reform, the urgent task is to remove interference by special interests, renewing the reform agenda -- pushing forward with economic reforms through marketization (市场化的经济改革) and political reform through democratization and rule of law."

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In the most recent edition of the journal Tongzhou Gongjin (同舟共进), internationally known Chinese economist Wu Jinglian (吴敬琏) talks about the importance of Deng Xiaoping's "southern tour" in 1992 on the occasion of its 20th anniversary. In the interview, Wu praises the spirit of the market economic reforms initiated by Deng's "southern tour," and warns against the view that China has now attained a new and successful economic model. Wu says: "I don't agree with this view. China's current economic system is a transitional economic system with elements of a market economy and many remnants of the old economic system. It has the potential to either become a market economy under rule of law through further reforms, or to become state capitalism or even crony capitalism."

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Two opinion pieces do not make for a trend, but it is interesting to not that the Chinese-language Global Times newspaper, which has a reputation for conservatism and nationalistic saber-rattling, has recently run pieces by both Peng Xiaoyun (彭晓芸) and Guo Yukuan (郭于宽) -- veteran journalists at the liberal end of China's political spectrum. In an opinion piece in the Global Times today, Peng writes about the potential of microblogs in China as a platform allowing for greater discussion of public affairs, a necessary preparation of the public for democratic reforms. The headline of Peng's piece at QQ.com reads: "Let Public Debate Become an Exercise for Democracy."

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Caixin Media editor-in-chief Hu Shuli argues in an online editorial today that one important lesson of the July 23 train crash is that reform must be carried out to the railway system in China. She suggests that one workable reform path might be to fold the Ministry of Railways into the Transportation Ministry and ensure afterwards that the government does not have any direct role in the operation of railways or in financing and investment. In other words, the government should take on a purely regulatory role. 

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China's State Council has released the list of officials recently appointed to a special team charged with investigating the July 23 train crash in Wenzhou that left at least 29 people dead. The list, shared by legal scholar He Weifang (贺卫方) through his Sina microblog, includes a number of officials with the government's Ministry of Railways, which has been at the center of the crisis this week. He Weifang writes: "Officials from the railway ministry stand out [on the list]. They should decline [participation]. No one can be a judge of events that directly concern their own interests -- this is the most basic demand of procedural justice."

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As annual college entrance examinations kick off around China today, a commentary in the Chinese Communist Party's official People's Daily newspaper argues that urgent reforms are required to ensure that college examinations happen on a level playing field. College exams, a critical and stressful rite of passage for Chinese high schoolers, have been dogged in recent years with numerous revelations of cheating and other abuses. 

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In an interview yesterday with China National Radio, Li Tie (李铁), director of the City and Township Development Center of China's Development and Reform Commission, said that while the country's rate of urbanization now stands at 47.5 percent -- meaning 47.5 percent of Chinese now live in cities -- less than 40 percent of these people have access to public services. One of the most critical questions China faces for the future, said Li, is finding ways to integrate this population and give them access to housing and basic services. 

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As fare hikes for taxi in Beijing are in the works, reporter Wang Keqin (王克勤) shares his August 2009 report on the taxi industry, his most comprehensive. Wang Keqin's December 2002 expose on taxi cartels in China's capital is one of the most important examples of Chinese investigative reporting in the past decade. The piece begins: "China's taxi industry has experienced a series of strikes in recent years. According to my own incomplete statistics, gathered from public materials, there were more than 150 taxi strikes nationwide from 2002 to 2008. Laying out the reasons for taxi strikes in various areas, they include: unauthorized taxis taking away fares, and demands for government action to stop it; fuel price increases and the rise of operating costs, with demands for fare increases; opposition to fare reductions; excessive taxi fees; arbitrary charges on drivers; conflicts over operation rights with companies and governments."

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As the "two meetings" of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress kick off in Beijing, Guangdong's Southern Metropolis Daily argues in its lead editorial today that resolving urgent social issue facing the people -- such as basic social fairness, access to healthcare and education, etc. -- requires reform of China's administrative and political system. The editorial says: "In addressing basic social issues, the government has an unshirkable duty. But we also need to take precautions against administrative power meddling in everything. Experience shows, no matter in what sector, that excessive involvement by the state can lead to rent-seeking behavior, the wasting of resources and other scourges."

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