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Love or hate it, change cannot be delayed

Updated: 2013-11-04 08:10
By Ed Zhang ( China Daily)

Whenever there is economic reform, you can guarantee that it will be swiftly followed by sentiment ranging from doubt, fear and regret to outright condemnation.

You won't often hear such sentiment in the office or on the trading floor, but it is everywhere to be found on the Internet. Indeed, some corners of the Internet in China teem with truculent views.

But the very word reform implies progress made despite doubts, fears, regrets and condemnation. President Xi Jinping has said the forthcoming CPC Central Committee Third Plenum, over four days from Nov 9, will demonstrate "great political wisdom and courage" in charting the country's next round of reform.

Early last month, as Shanghai began to launch a free trade zone to experiment with more liberal policies in service industries - with the approval of the central government - there were critics on the Internet in China who described it as a move to turn Shanghai into a new colonial concession.

At the other extreme, there were those who called the free trade zone an attempt at reform by diktat, implying that it runs counter to the logic of market-driven creativity.

Only several weeks ago, when Chinese media reported that a draft reform plan consisting of proposals for more flexible schemes for land ownership transfers was being drawn up by high-level policy advisers headed by economist Liu He, vice-minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, there was talk of "vicious motives" aimed at ruining China.

At the same time, of course, there were others saying the reform plan was not comprehensive enough.

You can argue about which, if any, of these views is right. The debate will continue as change unfolds.

However, the important thing is that the leaders cannot afford to wait, or to cast a listening ear while doing nothing. They need to muster up courage to lead the change, which, after all, is what leadership is all about.

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