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China is a Democracy? – News Story of the Week

I apologize, but today you get a little China rant.

Our News Story of the Week today looks at an article that argued China should not have an independent judiciary (something argued for by the Jasmine Protestors). In that article the author called China a democracy THREE times! Another article also praised villagers in their attempts at democracy.

This of course just days after the 3rd in command gave a speech saying China would never be a western style democracy with multiparty elections.

So when this author says “democracy” he is referring to the fact that in the last few years the Chinese gov’t has listened to what the people want, when it agrees with what they are already doing, or if it enables them to punish a low-level official for corruption (largely to keep the monitoring off the central gov’t).

However when these calls go beyond what the party deems acceptable there are arrests with lengthy jail terms. Even a man who was protesting for higher compensation for his son’s death from the company that poisoned him was arrested for “inciting social disorder”.

So let’s just double check some China facts: It is a one party state, without a congress that represents the interests of their constituents, or a judicial system that is independent of the executive and legislative branch, or freedom of the press, or elections open to all citizens. It doesn’t quite seem like a democracy.

Let me quote the article, “Abandoning these effective political systems to implement the political system of separation of powers will certainly shake the foundation of China’s socialist democratic political system as well as the Chinese people’s political status of being the masters of their country.”

That’s right, the author here is actually saying that a (real) democracy would limit the people’s political status of being the masters of their own country, which they supposedly gained through China’s (fake) democracy.

Sorry China, the West created democracy, we get to define, and if you try to call it Democracy with Chinese characteristics I might just lose it.


12 Comments

  1. […] I apologize, but today you get a little China rant. Our News Story of the Week today looks at an article that argued China should not have an independent judiciary (something argued for by the Jasmine Protestors). In that article … Continue reading → […]

  2. john book says:

    How do you stay in town when you write stuff like this? I would think your remarks would not be welcome there….

    On the other hand, I am confused. Mrs. Clinton tells us what a paradise China is and how the US should be using a Chinese style media…..Who am I to believe here?????

    • Tom says:

      I remember Mrs. Clinton’s speech being received poorly here. They cut out all the bits about internet freedom.
      For the most part the gov’t doesn’t care what is said in English to other foreigners. On a Chinese website, the post wouldn’t even go up.

  3. Meryl Mackay aka 马美丽 says:

    I too was getting worried about you Tom! I feel like crying sometimes! Is it a case of “what you never have you never miss?”. Only one of my Chinese friends seem to have any kind of awareness and he is doing his best to get out of China. Your Blog has assumed considerable importance in my daily life here in the Highlands of Scotland!

    • Tom says:

      From time to time, I get the most subtle reminders that the public face many people wear, is very different from their private one.
      I recently read “Nothing to Envy” about private life in N. Korea. There was a man whose job it was to sanitize foreign news, forcing him to see just how far behind N. Korea really was. It made him incredibly mad at the leadership, and had no way to move into a different position.
      It seems China to has many people in these kinds of positions where reality and the report don’t line up, but people know not to trust the report.
      I’m glad you are enjoying it so much Meryl.

  4. Like most Western democracies, the USA is a “formal democracy” in that it has the appearance of democracy though its elected representatives are actually owned and controlled by a small, wealthy elite. This is an imperfect system, but one we are accustomed to. It is suited to mature economies that grow through exploitation of unlimited resources.
    China’s government is a formal democracy of quite another kind: “dictatorship of the proletariat”. It is better-suited to developing a country quickly. It is also closer to China’s traditional form of strong, central, unified government. Both systems are imperfect. As to which is “better” it depends upon good old cui bono?

    • Tom says:

      Thank you for your comment Godfree. The phrases Dictatorship and Democracy don’t strike you as antonyms? I would have to argue that China’s form of government allows for far more corruption and waste (there was a fun story about a 3million rmb toilet the other day). Also that South Africa, India and Brazil are all developing countries that are democracies, and they are growing quite well.
      For your offer of evaluating them with the question of cui bono, let me offer you this, China’s 70 richest congressmen are worth $74 billion, America’s 70 richest congressmen are worth $4 billion. It seems that if you are a gov’t official than China’s system would be better.
      I do hope that you’ll further explain your idea of a “dictatorship of the proletariat”.

  5. john book says:

    score one real big point for Tom… you little sweet heart you!!! You write so much better than me on a topic like this!!!!!!!!

    Godfree…. are you really?

  6. Meryl Mackay aka 马美丽 says:

    It always surprises my Chinese friends that I studied Marxist philosophy at a British university. I know all about 90% of UK wealth being controlled by 10% of the population, which is why I am no fan of the British Royal Family. But in this imperfect Pluralist Society called Britain, I can shout my mouth off about virtually anything, as long as it is not racist (yes, I read the racist comments by “Netizens”). I can also join harmless Flaky Groups without being incarcerated and brutalised. BBC may be imperfect and biased but at least it is independent of the British Government (it has it’s own Charter) and I can surf world channels as none are banned (I like Al Jazeera which beams from Qatar – it’s coverage of Libya conflict has been outstanding).

    • Tom says:

      Winston Churchill said that Democracy isn’t the best system, just the least worst one we have found so far.
      Good reminder that even state run media, could be structured to give it separation from the gov’t.

  7. […] of most citizens. Which for the most part is still true, unless you are an outspoken artist, or are trying to actually run for office. To the casual visitor to China, it might seem that the army also stays out of the way since they […]

  8. […] goal out of discussions of his legacy, and secondly, and more insidiously, by claiming that China is already a democracy, as Hu Jintao did in his speech commemorating the date. Never mind the fact that China’s […]

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