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A Different Democratic System

7 June 2008
 

The following is translation of the core test of an online post on 阿拉丁:

From what I've observed I sincerely believe a democratic system that is rather different from the West may emerge in China.

I'm not here to debate whether a Chinese-style democracy is better than that of the West, which is not an issue. The real issue is whether it is more practical for Chinese situation, and if it is, then it must be a better system for China.

From my point of view, there are six key traits that define this new brand of democracy:

1, Allowing a High Level of Trust Between the Leaders

The most difficult step on the path to a new and more democratic system, I believe, has already been taken in China, which is marked by the introduction of term system; and since this system has become institutionalised, no one can switch back to the old way of life tenure. As for whether the person on the top job is elected directly or indirectly, it doesn't really matter much. In fact, the power transfer between Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao in the mainland is much more dignified and peaceful than that between Chen Shuibian and Ma Yingjiu in Taiwan province.

2, Refusing to Be A Puppet State of the West

Right now, most elite Chinese from China's top leadership to intellectuals have gained a deep understanding of the Western-style democracy, acquired a broad comprehension of both its advantages and flaws, and made up their minds in terms of what they should humbly learn from it and what they ought to reject outright. The West can no longer fool Chinese like what they did during the June 4 Tiananmen incident in 1989; by then the Chinese leaders and intellectuals held a profound respect for everything West, in particular the opinions of the Western media, and Chinese youth were easily instigated to take to streets to protest against the government. But the golden age for the West as such has long gone, which has to be credited to the policies of the Chinese government in the last 20 years that have opened up its economy to the world while take a cautious approach to the political reform.

3, Providing Better Opportunities for Everyone

If you compare the political systems of China and the United State, you'll find China provides better opportunities for a person on a lower rung of the social ladder to rise up in politics to the national leadership camp. The top three in China - Hu Jintao, Wu Bangguo and Wen Jiaobao - are all started at a grassroots level. That is why when a politician from the U.S. came to China and lectured Chinese about how to create a good system that allows grassroots folks to enter polities, I felt he was so pathetic and off the mark. The majority of Chinese at decision making positions are those who studied well at college or with a solid military service records behind them, which is unlike in the West, where it relies heavily on the strength of money and the recommendations of elite members for anyone who desires to go into politics.

4, Tackling Real Issues

Having observed so many elections in the U.S., I can only summarise them in one sentence: they are all shallow parade and money waste. The determine factors in these elections are not about the ideas and policies but the appearance and showmanship. Do you really think there is any fundamental difference between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on significant issues? To be honest, the gap that separates the Democrats and the Republicans are not even greater than that of the current government of Hu Jintao-Wen Jiabao and the previous one with Jiang Zemin-Zhu Rongji. If anyone thinks the world can be changed by switching ruling party, he's dreaming.

5, Based on China's Own Cultural Tradition

The distinction between Chinese Communist Party and the parties in the West, communist or not, is that the Chinese one is actually less a party, and even lesser a communist party, but increasingly characterised by traditional Chinese social science Confucius. It represents the interest and works for the benefits, not a certain section in the community, but the whole nation. The way to address conflict between social groups are not through open confrontation but by internal negotiation, which is the core essence of the Confucius. Of course, there is still plenty of room to improve the programmed process and institutional framework of the Chinese-style democratic system, but a 30-year long open discussion on the subject has reached a consensus among Chinese that a new democracy that is different from the West is achievable.

6, Willing to Learn from All Nations

A Chinese-style democracy can not be built from scratch; any lessons and experiences from nations all over the world in their pursuit of a more open and democratic system will be valuable. Forget revolution! A social engineering project is a much complicated program that requires patience and vigilance. What truly matters is not about how creative this system might be, but how effective it can become.

Full Text in Chinese

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