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Chinese premier calls for reform

Wen Jiabao

'People's wishes and needs for democracy and freedom are irresistible,' Wen Jiabao says. (full report)

Unbelievable! China for democracy?? The Chinese premier's statement has got to be one of the most, if not the most, revolutionary statements in the history of communism since the fall of the Soviet communist regime.

Would we be witnessing Wen Jiabao to follow in the footsteps of former Soviet Russia's Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika & glasnost policy of openness, transparency and economic reform (which subsequently resulted in the collapse of the Soviet regime)?

This is certainly good news for the people in East Turkestan (Chinese Turkestan), Tibet and maybe Taiwan too. Though I do not foresee the secession of the conflicting provinces from the state of China, at the very least there will be a greater political autonomy ala Aceh in Indonesia in post-tsunami 2005 and better respect for human rights.

Politicians of the world must realise and seriously take into account that the new decade and the new century is the era of greater democratisation. The old model of top-down politics is outdated and no longer viable in the changing new world driven by the convergence of information and technologies.

While the call for greater freedom by Wen Jiabao is lauded, however, let us be reminded that democracy or democratisation is not and will never be absolute. Absolute freedom only leads to anarchy. Likewise, absolute power will lead to dictatorship and totalitarianism. Therefore the biggest challenge is to seek middle path and to balance between the changing socio-political environment, the increasing democratisation of the society and to maintain peace and public order.

So it would certainly be interesting to closely follow the political development in China in the coming decade. Is Wen Jiabao going to be the Chinese Gorbachev?

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