11/13/2013, 00.00
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Scepticism and disappointment over plenum's failure to include democratic reforms

Communist Party summit ends with proposals for more open markets within existing constraints. The creation of a national security committee raises fears that China's police state would be more repressive. For analyst, "market economic reform" cannot succeed without political liberation.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The decisions announced yesterday at the end of the third plenum of the Communist Party have sparked a debate on the Internet, with Chinese netizens disappointed by the lack of democratic reforms and scepticism about a less stringent one-child policy.

Changes in favour of the private sector over large state corporations were expected, but the creation of a national security committee raises fears that human and civil rights in China are bound to get worse.

An online survey by the South China Morning Post asked readers "Is China falling deeper into a police state with the establishment of a 'National Security Committee'?" Eighty-three per cent said yes.

Similarly, Caixin Magazine reports that most readers believe that changes to the government's one-child policy - allowing couples who are themselves only children to have two children - is too little too late in a country where the birth-rate has dropped dramatically.

There are also some concerns over economic reforms. In its final communiqué, the Plenum called for streamlining "the relationship between government and the market" whilst maintaining "the dominance of public ownership".

For China's media, new guidelines could open up competition in key sectors such as railways, finance or telecommunications.

However, for Renmin University political scientist Zhang Ming, such changes mean little in the absence of democracy; in fact, "without substantial effort toward political liberalisation, the market economic reform could hardly succeed," he explained.

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