Opinion World Politics & Affairs

Opinion: Democracy cannot work in China for now

I am not a Chinese propagandist, nor am I in any way affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party. But today I want to be as objective as possible and tell you why China, at least for now, cannot have a democracy like in the West.

China has a long history of autocracy. From as early as 1600 BCE, China had the notion of one ruler that takes control of the entire country. That tradition has continued to 1911 when Sun Yat-Sen led the Xinhai revolution and overthrew the Qing Dynasty. However, all of the Chinese people are familiar with this long history of emperors, and they accept it as part of the culture. Therefore, Chinese people don’t really have a problem, per se, with autocracy in itself. They are fascinated by the long and rich history, and they become very familiar with it through the abundant TV shows, movies, and literature.

Chinese officials, back in the old emperor days, examined why some emperors lead good countries while others are corrupt, and focus on educating good, moral emperors instead of trying to establish a brand new system and replace the ruler. This mindset has continued to the present times. Chinese people knew about Western democracy all along, but they never cared to bring it to China, at least not a large number of them. There is enough change in the economic sector and people are happy with the way and the pace the country is developing.

Then there’s the issue of why democracy won’t work in China, at least not for a couple decades. First of all, China is still a developing country, that means a much larger proportion of the population is uneducated. Those people are struggling on the poverty line and will do anything to try to change that. If they are granted the power to vote, they will choose the candidate that promises the largest monetary gains for them, i.e. a demagogue. That is how Mao gained so many supporters; Mao promised money and land for all of the “proletariat”, and look at what Mao has done to China. A perfect analogy was made by Plato for this situation. There is a ship sailing in the stormy sea, and would you rather put the sailors to be in charge of the navigation, or just random people on the ship who knows nothing about seamanship? Of course the former.

Then, in China, when the education system is not yet good enough to educate people how to choose political parties and ideologies, a mass majority of people cannot be trusted to make a decision on who rules the state. A democracy is only as effective as the education system that surrounds it, and China currently lacks the education system, to begin with. An arbitrarily installed democracy would cause instability in China’s economy. As seen often in the Western world, democracy is inefficient. The American Congress takes months to pass bills that make a change or to regulate an industry. In China, several months worth of time would mean the loss of an excellent opportunity to make an economic advancement or an adjustment that can avoid a catastrophe.

Long-term plans made by the current administration can also be jeopardized by an elected opposition, which can devastate the country’s economy. Just look at how Donald Trump plans to “repeal and replace” Obamacare with something that will provide huge tax cuts for the rich and reduce coverage for 14 million people. China’s initiatives such as the “One Belt One Road” are massive projects that can potentially take decades to progress, and the Chinese people cannot afford any disturbance to them.

Yes, I am aware of the atrocities that the Chinese Communist Party have committed. They have been extensively covered by the Western media, and I don’t have to comment too much on that. However, what Western media failed to cover is China’s progress in the political system. Take Mao, for example, who ruled since the new People’s Republic of China was established in 1949 till his death in 1976. The party has seen how much damage a cult of personality can make to the country, and has limited the number of terms to two for each leader, which is 10 years. Xi’s anti-corruption campaign does have the purpose of eliminating his political rivals, but it has also helped with the problem. There have been strict limits and rules enforced since Xi’s term began, and Chinese officials are more and more afraid to corrupt. All in all, the country and the party is taking steps to progress into a more open society and a better political system.

There are still countless problems in China, censorship, police brutality, and human rights violations among them. However, comparing to the China in Mao’s time, the Chinese Communist Party has done much progress. Just take the 700 million that China has lifted out of extreme poverty over the past 30 years of reform as an example. The Chinese state isn’t an evil one as portrayed often by the Western media, it just needs more time to progress and it will reach its ultimate destination.

Would it be a democracy?

Let’s stay and find out.

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