Communist leaders have no plans to allow democracy in the near future because they must focus on economic development before political reform, China's No. 3 leader said in comments published Tuesday.
Democracy will emerge once a “mature socialist system” develops but that might not happen for up to 100 years, Premier Wen Jiabao wrote in an article in the People's Daily, the main Communist Party newspaper.
For now, China must focus on “sustained rapid growth of productive forces ... to finally secure fairness and social justice that lies within the essence of socialism,” Mr. Wen wrote.
The Premier said the country is “still far from advancing out of the primary stage of socialism. We must adhere to the party's basic guidelines of the primary stage of socialism for 100 years.”
Mr. Wen said China would develop its own democratic policies and that a socialist system was not contradictory to those policies.
“A highly developed democracy and a complete legal system are inherent requirements of the socialist system and important symbols of a mature socialist system,” Mr. Wen said.
It is a bit of a conservative trope that socialism was defeated with the fall of the Soviet Union and that the superiority of liberal democracies is now acknowledged by nearly everybody. This may prove to be naive in that it underestimates the resolve and ability of the left to re-invent itself and its rhetoric. Although almost nobody touts state ownership and direction of the economy anymore, there seems to be a growing belief in the progressive world that democracy, while highly desirable in theory, is at odds with other more urgent objectives like social justice, human rights, ecological balance and even growth. Leftist ideologues used to argue that marxist states were in fact more democratic than Western ones. Today, in the groupspeak of the left, democracy has replaced the withering away of the state as the apocalyptic dream autocrats promise is just around the corner to those they are crushing beneath their heels.