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CCTV News: Political and Economic Reform

October 19, 2010

I was on CCTV News’ Dialogue program last night.  This time, the topic was China’s new five-year plan, which China’s top leaders gathered to formulate throughout this weekend.  My fellow guest, yet again, was Victor Gao.  But before you assume you’ve seen and heard it all before, you may want to click over and watch this one

The first half of the show was devoted to an unusually candid discussion – for Chinese state-run TV — of democratic reform in China

I made two key points.  The first is that what people outside of China imagine when they hear China’s leaders use the words “political reform” is very different from what China’s leaders actually mean.  Most people think of multi-party elections, freedom of expression, an independent judiciary, etc.  In fact, Chinese leaders have explicitly ruled out the idea of relaxing the Communist Party’s monopoly on power.  What they have in mind is rooting out corruption, improving delivery of social services, streamlining bureaucracy, etc., all within the context of a one-party state.

My second point is that calls for more fundamental political reforms — contested elections, free press, independent courts — is not a question of China being held to outside standards or imitating some other country’s system.  It is about solving practical challenges within Chinese society, ones that are crucial to China’s future development.

The second half of the show was devoted to economic reform.  In it, I stressed once again that China should be moving towards a more flexible currency and a stronger Renminbi not because it is good for the U.S., but because it is good for China.  The adjustment will involve short-term pain, but will put China on a more sustainable path to long-term prosperity.

I also appeared on CCTV News BizAsia this morning.  In the first clip, I offer a brief summary of the main themes coming out of China’s Five-Year Plan meeting over the weekend.  In the second interview, I explain the context of U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s denial, yesterday, that the U.S. is purposely driving down the value of the dollar in world markets.  I also evaluate the prospect that a “currency war” might break out between the U.S. and China.

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