Wu Jinglian
Director, State Council Development Research Center
Top leaders listent to this liberal economist

When Wu Jinglian speaks, everyone from President Jiang Zemin to the CEOs of global multinationals listens. Wu, director and senior fellow at the State Council's influential Development Research Center, has the ear and trust of Premier Zhu Rongji on all matters concerning macro-economic adjustment, and fiscal and monetary policy. What is the 69-year-old economics professor and Standing Committee member saying? For one thing, that the government should not mix business with politics. The authorities must take "decisive steps" to clear up the mess left from the bubble economy and stop meddling in the market, the China News Service quoted Wu as saying earlier this year. "The state pumped large amounts of money into the property market in the past few years," he said. "Where is that money now? Was the money spent on cement, on laying the foundations? Not at all. The money has been embezzled and we are left with the big bubbles." Straight talk. Wu's economic advice is clear enough, too. The current focus of national policy is to combat deflation and spur domestic demand. Wu says expansionary policies must continue, and he advises more work on the supply side. His prescription: "First, adopt a more active monetary policy to spur demand. Second, kick-start the retail market, including the housing and rural markets. Third, help and support small and medium-sized firms." And non-governmental investment must also be increased. These steps promote supply that helps solve the problem of depressed demand, says Wu. Chongqing-born and a graduate of Shanghai's Fudan University, his economics couldn't be less communist. The leaders are listening. Let's see how they implement Wu's liberal message.

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Photo: Xinhua