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In China, the ruling Chinese Communist Party opened the annual session of its parliament on Thursday in Beijing. At a time of political upheaval in the Middle East, the regime has been quick to make it clear it will not tolerate opposition to its rule. But there is growing dissent in the country, with mounting calls for democracy reform.
The Chinese regime's annual "Two Meetings" comes amid growing challenges to the ruling Communist Party this year. The regime has shown it will not accept any opposition to its rule. On Thursday, Senior Party leader Jia Qinglin told delegates in Beijing at the opening of the first meeting that the country would not stray from the Communist Party's political development. The first meeting is the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, a pseudo-parliament.
Democracy advocate Qin Yongmin says the Communist regime should take note of what's happened in the Middle East, after dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt were toppled.
[Qin Yongmin, Chinese Democracy Advocate]
"Recently, dictatorships with a stronghold in the Arabic world saw widespread democracy movements. A dozen countries have gotten involved. For China's ruling party, this should be a shock. They should realize that continuing this single-party rule will no longer work."
For years, the Chinese Communist Party has justified its heavy handed rule in China with promises of economic prosperity, but major hikes in inflation has become a major concern.
[Mr. Song, Chinese Democracy Activist]:
"A free market economy is guaranteed by a free political and democratic framework. This will create ruled of law, which in turn ensures the healthy development of a free market economy. None of this can be achieved by the Chinese Communist Party. Without a free economic environment, conflicts in society cannot be resolved."