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Annual NPC and CPPCC sessions are venues to discuss policy publicly

By Feng Daimei | 2013-08-29 | Hits:
CSST: What roles do you think the annual NPC and CPPCC sessions play in Chinese political scenario? 
David Goodman: The NPC and CPPCC each in their own different way play an important role in the legislative, representative, and public debating functions of national assemblies. The NPC is the formal legislature, and while the NPC is the representative institution for the state-administrative systems, the CPPCC is the representative institution for social and professional categories. While both NPC and CPPCC provides an important opportunity for discussion of government agendas and for government to explain to the people what is being done, they are also places where the representatives of the people can discuss issues publicly.
CSST: As a well-known scholar on China Studies, every year what do you expect from annual sessions? Any particular anticipation for this year’s sessions?
David Goodman: On an annual basis, the holding of the NPC and CPPCC is the occasion when crucial government issues are highlighted, and when most usually there is also the articulation of key concerns that people have. At present it is clear that there are public concerns with government accountability and efficiency, with the need for responsible government to deliver public goods, and for greater development of and observation of government regulation. The Chinese leadership has indicated that they will take up these issues, which are central to governance, as immediate concerns.
CSST: How do you comment on the "uniqueness" of Chinese representative political system?
David Goodman: The relationship between the NPC and the CPCC is unique. NPC is largely territorially representative. CPCC is essentially representative of functional categories in society. Especially in the CPCC the ways in which delegates are expected to bring proposals for discussion to and to supervise the work of government is radically different to the ways accountability may be exercised elsewhere in the world. It has the chance to ensure that many of those who are most impacted by a government policy can have an input into policy implementation.
CSST: As a developing country, what problems that China needs to address in order to maintain its sustainable development (domestically and internationally)?
David Goodman: There are essentially two different dimensions to any answer to this question: the first relates to China’s interactions with the world market; the other to its own immediate environment. China has grown through its interaction with the world market. Interestingly though, like the USA, it could also have a large enough domestic market to sustain its own continued growth. To do this though two blockages would need to be removed. The first is that people would need to embrace a consumer society: they need to learn to spend and not save. The second is that the economy away from the East and Southeast Coast would also need to develop in a similar fashion. The saving-consumption relationship is easy to analyze but perhaps harder to solve. The lack of welfare provision for citizens of the nation state is a major reason why people save rather than send. Spending on welfare (health, education, social security) is a major reason for the self limiting development of a consumer society. The development of the interior is related to this but also depends on greater infrastructural development. This has started to happen slowly, in places like Lanzhou, Chengdu and Xi’an but there is a long way still to go. There clearly are other blockages to sustainable growth, including increasing inequality, corruption, and resource depletion, but these are largely epiphenomenal and can be managed through dedicated government action. Inequality is often taken as a mark of growth, but studies around the world show that without a higher measure of equality growth is not sustainable. As are questions of resource depletion, especially of water, can cause serious problems to local societies, especially in health management.
CSST: As Academic Director of China Studies Center at Sydney University, what’s your impression of overseas China Studies and what are your research focuses?
David Goodman: There are clear differences in China Studies between different countries around the world. I often go to and interact with people from North America, South America, Europe and East Asia, as well as Australia. There is a distinct relationship between the immediacy of China to any country and the development of that country’s China Studies. Australia for example is not a great power and so our China Studies are more concerned with the obvious economic interactions between Australia and China, and China’s social development as a result (at least in part) of the vast number of Chinese who live in Australia. The USA concentrates more on China’s international relations and issues that are of concern to domestic USA politics. Academics in Australia are more interested in understanding how China is and has developed in its own terms as opposed to how China fits into the USA’s world. At the China Studies Centre, University of Sydney, major research concentrations are on China’s business development, public health, social change, and ancient history, as well as international relations.

Prof. David S. G. Goodman, FASSA, Academic Director, China Studies Centre, University of Sydney. David Goodman is Professor of Chinese Politics. He was educated at the University of Manchester (Politics and Modern History) Peking University (Economics) and the London School of Oriental and African Studies (Chinese language and Chinese Politics).