10/09/2020, 12.24
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Pro-reform advocate calls for more leeway for private enterprise, says no to Marxist tradition

For Li Youwei, the government must protect private investments. The danger does not come from the West, but from the return to a planned economy controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. His position (and that of “liberals") could find room at the 5th plenary session of the Central Committee.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - To overcome external challenges, China must give more leeway to private enterprises and protect their investments, says by Li Youwei, a reform advocate and a former secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Shenzhen (Guangdong) in the 1990s.

Architect of the coastal city’s economic boom and a supporter of Deng Xiaoping’s opening, Li has always called for a greater role for the private sector in the Chinese economy.

In a recent article published in Wen Wei Po, a pro-Beijing newspaper in Hong Kong, he argues that China's main problem is not the pressure exerted by the West, but the abandonment of reforms and the return to the Marxist tradition of state-owned enterprise supremacy.

According to estimates by the World Economic Forum, China’s private sector contributes 60 per cent of national GDP, 70 per cent of innovation, 80 per cent of urban employment, 90 per cent of new jobs and exports.

But while China’s private sector has grown significantly, Li notes that it lacks adequate legal protection.

This is not the first time for the pro-reform advocate to speak out in support of private enterprise and against economic planning. However, his articles have often fallen foul of censors.

For some analysts, the fact that Li's article appeared in a pro-government publication means that his views – that of the CCP’s "liberal" wing – might find room at the 5th plenary session the 19th Party Central Committee on 26-29 October.

In addition to a focus on domestic growth to counter the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and US trade pressures, President Xi seems oriented towards promoting greater state intervention in the economy.

On 15 September, the CCP issued a directive asking private companies to accept its "leadership".

According to the document, the Party exercises leadership to guide private businesses and decide hiring and firing in private companies, effectively paving the way for a return to a planned economy.

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