Thursday, Mar 06, 2003
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By P. S. Suryanarayana
The Chinaese Prime Minister, Zhu Rongji, raised visions of the country's ability to maintain a high level of economic growth at home and play a global role for international `peace' and `development' as Asia's only permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.
As the first annual session of the tenth National People's Congress (Parliament) began in Beijing today, Mr. Zhu reviewed China's progress during the past five years of the previous NPC's existence and sketched the country's future profile at home and abroad on a canvas of corrective reforms. The session, scheduled to last until at least March 18, is widely expected to usher in a new leadership, at the highest levels of State and Government, within the framework of a sustained political supremacy of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
Mr. Zhu as also China's President, Jiang Zemin, are among the top leaders likely to make way for others before the end of the new NPC's first annual session. In a significant sense, the prospective configuration of power at the highest levels has been determined in the context of the CPC's own power equilibrium, which was decided during the party's sixteenth national congress held in Beijing last November. Authoritative Chinese sources have told The Hindu that the current indications point to the possibility of a continuation of "collective leadership'' at the helm.
Mr. Jiang has in recent years modelled a collegiate leadership, with his own position being at the `core' of the team. This `system' is in sharp contrast to the previous models of Deng Xiaoping's `paramount' leadership and Mao Zedong's singular supremacy as the founder-architect of the People's Republic of China.
Addressing the new NPC deputies, numbering 2916, Mr. Zhu called for steps that could prevent any form of unrest at home even as China might wish to keep itself on the current growth trajectory of the average order of 7.7 per cent every year.
He underlined the importance of keeping the farm sector in good humour and creating jobs even during the ongoing period of incremental reforms. Delivering what was virtually China's version of the American `state of the union'' address, Mr. Zhu said the country "should develop socialist democracy'' and a socialist market economy. Lending a touch of an updated Confucian value system, he said China should lace its passion for ``rule of law'' with the "rule by virtue'' at home.
He suggested that China should carry forward its "independent foreign policy of peace'' so as to meet the challenges of political-level ``multi-polarisation'' and economic globalisation on the international scene. He also called for an early and peaceful reunification of China so that Taiwan could, like Hong Kong and Macao, rejoin Beijing under the principle of "one country, two systems''. With Li Peng, the overall chairman of the previous NPC, having vacated that post on Tuesday, the new NPC session today was presided over by Wu Bangguo in the name and style of an executive chairman of the presidium of this NPC session. While the session will determine the new leadership line-up across the board, China-watchers like Wang Gungwu and Zheng Yongnian draw attention to the challenges of `legitimacy', among other priorities, in the ongoing process of "power succession'' in China.
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