Communist Party frowns on democracy

BEIJING: China marked the 83rd birthday of the Communist Party yesterday with pledges for cautious political reform, but clung to its suspicion of Western-style democracy. 

The Communist Party, founded in Shanghai in 1921, has monopolised Chinese politics since the 1949 revolution but experimented with political changes in recent years in its search for checks and balances to curb corruption and waste. 

“We cannot indiscriminately imitate the governing practices and measures of other political parties of the world,” party chief Hu Jintao told a closed-door study session of the party's powerful 24-member Politburo on Tuesday in a veiled reference to Western-style democracy. 

“But we can study and draw lessons from the beneficial practices in managing their state affairs,” the People's Daily quoted Hu as saying in a front-page story yesterday. 

The party flirted with political reforms in the late 1980s, but the experiment ground to a halt after the army crushed student-led demonstrations for democracy centred on Beijing's Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. 

The collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union and opposition parties sweeping to power in Asia's fledgling democracies have contributed to China's fear and resistance of Western-style democracy, including free elections above the county level and a free press. 

But apparently alarmed at chronic corruption, Hu pledged to build a clean and honest government, saying the “rise and fall, success and failure of socialism” was at stake. 

Hu called for strengthening the party's governing theories and ability to rule, the People's Daily said. 

He urged the party, which has 65 million members, to study how to improve the recruitment of new members from the ranks of workers, peasants, intellectuals, soldiers and government officials. – Reuters  

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