Third Party Plenum: secret (and perhaps non-existent ) reforms
by Bernardo Cervellera
The gathering of 250 members of the Central Committee lasts until November 12, under strict media silence. Think-tanks put forward important propositions: provinces detached from the economy; reduction in monopolies; reform of residence certificate for migrants. However it is uncertain whether they will be taken into account. Party monopoly of power remains, like in the days of the Chinese empire . Xi Jinping also retreats after promising many reforms

Rome (AsiaNews) - Leaders today begun the Third Plenum of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Beijing. The meeting, which will run until November 12 , is being held behind closed doors and no one knows the issues on the agenda, although Chinese and international media speak of economic reforms that will determine the next 10 years in the country.

The meeting is characterized by its secrecy: over the course of the next four days, there will be no press coverage, except for a final communiqué.

What is known is that the Chinese industry is weighed down by overproduction, with warehouses full of unsold goods; millions of apartments built and empty; exports affected by the global economic crisis; rampant corruption and pollution; the huge debt of the provinces with their unused and costly pharaonic projects (roads , highways , factories, airports); an inflation has risen to 3.1% , with the prices of foodstuffs that have undergone an increase of up to 35%.

Yu Zhengsheng of the Politburo Standing Committee said weeks ago that the Third Plenum will launch "unprecedented" reforms but said nothing about their content.

A think-tank close to President Xi Jinping has prepared a draft of economic reforms with many interesting elements: the separation of the provinces from the direct responsibility of the national economy, the use of the yuan as an international exchange currency (to escape a possible collapse of the dollar), the reduction of state monopolies involvement in the energy, banking , infrastructure and telecommunications sectors, an end to the obligatory hukou ( residence certificate ), which requires migrants who work in the city to retain their residence in the countryside, depriving them of subsidies for their children's school and healthcare in the cities where they work. In addition , the think -tank headed by economist Liu He , wants to give farmers the opportunity to sell their land at market prices , with the same values ​​as those in the city.

These suggestions for reforms in favour of migrants and poor farmers, rather than provide them with greater justice, aims to transform them into a new class of consumers in order to increase the internal market, correcting the excessive dependence on exports and international trade .

The reduction of the economic power of the provinces and state monopolies would facilitate private and foreign investment, increasingly frustrated in front of the favoritism enjoyed by state-owned enterprises with facilitated bank loans and government benevolence. While in the '90s, China attracted 37% of foreign direct investment, in the 10 following years the figure dropped to 10.6% . Between January and September this year foreign direct investment grew by only 6%.

It is not at all sure that these suggestions will be embraced and put into practise by the leadership. They will be discussed in the Central Committee by 250 people, at least 50 % of which have built their careers and livelihoods based on state monopolies and an avalanche of loans from State banks: it is very difficult for them to step back in the name of market freedom or justice.

Above all, what is most lacking in this plenum is some suggestion of political reform. Since the 80s Deng Xiaoping , Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao (along with Wen Jiabao ) have pointed out that the giant economic reforms launched in the country can not be sustained without adequate political reform. But nobody has been able (or willing) to do anything. If the person who determines the fairer rules, is the same person to hold the monopolies, it is impossible to avoid control, corruption, favoritism .

The CCP monopoly of power is in no way questioned. In the months before the Plenum, although there was silence on the reforms, all criticism of the Party was suppressed: Mao Zedong was staunchly defended, casting a veil over the more than 35 million deaths from starvation that his leap forward cost; anyone who dared to say that the constitution and the law applies to everyone was shot, including members of the party; all those who asked the leaders to disclose their wealth, amassed through corruption, were arrested.

Xi Jinping, who early on in his term had made many promises of legality, has gradually backed down to reiterate that the Party is above the law and that its history must be defended, judged outright as positive, in the fear that who dares to criticize its history opens the road to its collapse as happened to the USSR .

Thus, the Third Plenum is likely to be yet another missed opportunity for a leadership that claims to "serve the people" and instead uses its wealth to exploit the people , allowing some change from time to time ( but only if it is cheap! ) , as did the ancient emperors , keeping power and the police firmly in its hands.