April 2, 2014 6:32 am JST

Xi frowns on Western-style political reforms for China

KATSUJI NAKAZAWA, Nikkei staff writer

BRUGES, Belgium -- Chinese President Xi Jinping capped off his roughly 10-day European tour with a speech here Tuesday, dismissing the appropriateness of political reforms that would move his country closer to Western-style democracy.

     Xi said that after the 1911 revolution overthrew the last imperial dynasty, China experimented with a multiparty system and presidential government but ultimately chose socialism.

     While the country will pursue economic reforms, it cannot emulate others' political systems, he said.

     Xi and the leaders around him have said very little about political reforms since he took power in 2012. But they have tightened control, employing such means as crackdowns on online speech. The president's remarks served to underscore the uniqueness of the Chinese political system and affirm the legitimacy of its one-party rule.

     Although Xi touched upon historical incursions into China by foreign powers, he did not explicitly mention Japan's invasion. Nor did he discuss how the two countries' differing historical memories of it continue to stoke tensions to this day.

     Xi used other parts of the trip, which also took him to the Netherlands, France and Germany, to push for closer economic and business ties with Europe.

     Earlier Tuesday, the president toured a Volvo plant in the nearby city of Ghent. China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group bought Swedish automaker Volvo Cars in 2010. Xi emphasized that the factory symbolizes Sino-European cooperation.

     Last Wednesday, Xi attended a ceremony in Paris marking an investment by the state-affiliated Dongfeng Motor in France's PSA Peugeot Citroen.