Zhang Lijia

Ruling Prime Minister Wen Jiabao warned a few months ago the country needs real political reforms to avoid another Cultural Revolution. Is China’s upcoming leadership ready for that tasks? Author and celebrity Zhang Lijia writes in the New York Times she has her doubts.

Zhang Lijia:

And that’s the point. China needs serious political reforms: more democracy, rule of law, transparency, checks on power and a decentralized power structure. Only measures such as these can push China forward into becoming a strong, modern nation — and to avoid repeating past catastrophes.

Wen was right: We need reform or we could end up too close to where we were 46 years ago. But the prime minister, who has only a few months left to his term, hasn’t elaborated upon what reforms he has in mind. In fact, he’s been talking of “reform” for years, and many other leaders also openly acknowledge that we need economic reform.

Implementing real reforms, not merely a tweak here and there, will demand courage. Will Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, the two men who will most likely take power in the autumn, be up to it?

I doubt it. They are selected to lead the nation because they’ve proven not only their ability to govern but also their loyalty to the regime. Like all top party leaders, they understand how to place the party’s honor before the country’s interest. This next generation of leaders is unlikely to rock the boat — and that’s unfortunate.

More in The New York Times.

Zhang Lijia is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

More on Zhang Lijia and China’s moral crisis at Storify.

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