BEIJING — China's top lawmaker rejected calls to open up the communist political system to reform Tuesday, but his milder rhetoric indicated confidence among Chinese authorities that a crackdown on dissent has been effective.
China will stick to the "socialist path of political development with Chinese characteristics," Wu Bangguo told the nearly 3,000 National People's Congress delegates gathered in Beijing for their annual full session.
Wu, the ruling Communist Party's second highest ranking official, used much more strident language last year, when the party was beating back a bold call for sweeping political reform known as "Charter 08," which drew considerable attention among intellectuals and on the Internet. On that occasion, Wu harshly declared: "We will never simply copy the system of Western countries."
More than one year later, Charter 08's most illustrious signatory, Liu Xiaobo, is in prison serving an 11-year sentence for incitement to subvert state power. Others who signed have been threatened and intimidated into silence.