What Chinese people say
Gao Qian (30), Saleswoman, Hebei province“There is too much unfairness here, and the government controls everything. I have to say we need more human rights. I don’t feel disappointed with the current leadership, but there’s nothing to be very cheerful about either.
“In China, leadership is an issue for someone else, not the business of people like me, so I don’t need to care about it that much. I have no say in how the leadership works. It’s not like the US, as we see on TV, where their future president has to debate for the right to rule the country. Here the leadership’s main concern is not the interests of the people. I hope there are more changes in people’s lives, an improvement in their livelihoods and education. The nation needs long-term, normal education. I hope at least they can solve the problem of food security – I don’t want to worry about if it is safe to eat and drink every day.”
Guo Gong (46), Artist, Shanxi province
“The thing most needed in this country is supervision of the party, and an independent legal system, but this seems unlikely in a country with one-party rule, so the rules and regulations lack justice and are in the service of the rulers. The current congress was too conservative, and they don’t have the ability to reform. The priority for them was to solidify their ruling position first. Deng Xiaoping was a reformer; if he were here, he would have pushed forward reform, though he did something wrong late in his rule by kicking out those powers as reformers.
“But now without political reform, China’s economy is developing in a twisted way. In the near future we will have problems in GDP growth.
“But to make political reform is not as easy as when it was in the 1980s when the economic reforms started, which started the whole country earning money.
“I hope China can have an independent legal system, even if it is established on a corrupt base. And that we have democratic elections, that other parties have space to develop, to at least monitor the government.
“I have no faith in the leadership and there is no reason for me to have any faith since there is no political transparency, nor in the media, so we don’t know what is going on in the congress. We only can try and work it out by rumours.”
Li Zhiguo (70), Retired architect from Inner Mongolia
“This country’s main problem is that all the laws written on paper stay on paper, but are not implemented. It feels like they are not real. People’s rights are enshrined in the constitution and that needs to be implemented.
“The most disappointing thing is corruption. From the government to the ordinary people, everyone here is attached to a code which represents a theory that nothing is real except money.
“However, currently ordinary people only can earn money by labour and working, but officials can earn money by trading their power. They can earn money illegally while still protecting the law . . . It is not possible to have change or political reform because the leadership is all about extending the leadership . . . I cannot see hope unless there is more freedom and supervision of the leadership. The government is always saying the people are the most powerful. But China negates individual rights.”
Kang Li (27), Design director, Chengdu
“I feel there are a lot of things that are unbalanced or unfair in society. The people who have the resources can do things; if not, there is nothing available if you want to do something in normal ways. The social regime is twisted. You have to know something that you never learnt in school or by experience, you only know by being deeply involved.
“Many things are happening that betray morality, but have become the social values of the majority.
“I feel the leadership wants to do something for the people, but they have to spend most of their energy and social resources on the political struggle. They are not 100 per cent focused on their work for the people, because 50 per cent of their time is taken up with internal struggles, about 30 per cent for personal interest, and only 20 per cent for the public. So the regime is not working efficiently.”
Su Guixia (32), Editor of environmental website, Hubei province
“The main problem is unfairness, and that people’s basic rights cannot be assured, such as land rights, property rights, food security and environmental safety.
“I don’t know if I am disappointed, and I’m not sure what the result will be if some wise leaders are replaced . . . There is no ‘for the people’, the foundation of that way of thinking has not been built yet . . . The government should strictly implement the laws. It could at least make the people feel that they are safe to live in the country.
“To feel freedom, basic rights need to be protected. After that we can talk about being rich or happy.
“The government can learn from Hong Kong or Taiwan, and let the people enjoy a just and fair social environment.
“We have to hold on to certain hopes about the leadership, otherwise what do we have to hope for?
“We hope things go in a better direction.”