Chinese Politics and the NPCWritten by Julen Madariaga on March 13th, 2009
NATIONAL PEOPLE’S CONGRESS - Let’s admit it. We’ve been watching closely the NPC, we read all the material available and we have written about it. And yet, this year again, we have no clue what the NPC is for. According to their own website, the NPC has legislative functions, so we tend to compare it to a Western parliament. Some Chinese have compared it to a Carnival instead, and Party top leader Wu Bangguo has stated very clearly:
“The people’s congress exercises state power in a unified way”, that is “different from the Western model, which separates the powers of the 3 departments.”
His speech asserted that “China will never copy the Western political systems”, going to great lengths to explain the advantages of the “socialist system”. No separation of powers, that is the key. He could have saved the effort and drafted a shorter speech: “We will continue to monopolize the power because we think it is the best for our country (and for us)”. Which feels very much like a direct response to Wen Jiabao’s political reform statements 5 days earlier during the same Congress.
I will leave the high level tea leave reading to the professionals, but I count already two hardline statements from top level politburo members in less than a month, while Wen JiaBao’s constant democratic initiatives get little echo. I am of the opinion that Wen is untouchable this year, while economic and political hazards require the full support of the Chinese people to the party. But as soon as the danger is past, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him unexpectedly retire.