Whenever there is an upheaval in China – be it riots, protests, or political party struggles – hardly a sniff of it will be found in the pages of the country’s heavily controlled press. However when it happens somewhere else in the world BAM! – it is the front page news. China has faced much criticism in the past for suppressing freedom of speech and information broadcasting, but this year is China’s year. The rise of Donald Trump has given the Chinese state – controlled media outlets plenty to talk about. “The rise of a racist in the US political area worries the whole world,” the party-controlled Global Times crowed this week. “He has even been called another Benito Mussolini or Adolf Hitler by some western media.” It added, darkly: “Mussolini and Hitler came to power through elections, a heavy lesson for western democracy.”An editorial on another government-run website claimed Trump had “humiliated” the US political system.
This comes at a moment when 1.4 billion Chinese citizens are contemplating on the benefits of Communism. The Chinese media has literally pounced over the current U.S. election race, trying to actively paint a bad picture of Western, liberal democracy. The question which instantly comes to our minds is : Which is the best system for China? Is it a liberal Democracy, or a strong, stable Communism? Is Chinese autocracy outperforming Western Democracy? Let’s find out !
First of all we need to make it clear that democracy is an universally valid system. Democracy might be the best method of governance in one set of countries, but may not be in another set. Even more disastrous is the idea of ‘Imposed Democracy’. So we need to keep our minds open while discussing the merits and demerits of each system.
China has been a communist country since 1949. Mao Zedong is credited as the leader of the People’s movement, which he led to emancipate poor peasants, who were struck in the quagmire of a corrupt nationalistic bureaucracy.
Under Zedong and the Communist Party of China, all private lands were acquired by the State and were redistributed among the peasants free of cost. Remember in the 1950s China was still primarily an agricultural country, and communism was gratefully accepted by the populace. However the Chinese people were essentially insulated from the outer world. As the years flew by, the grip of the Communist Party on the nation grew stronger and stronger.
Now the point here to note is at the time of China’s marriage with communism, a majority of Chinese people were illiterate and uneducated. They did not know anything about internal policy, external policy or defense policy. Thus the Communist Party did what it thought was the best for China. It pleased the peasant population by giving them wages and distributing free land for agriculture, and took the burden of nation-building off the hands of the people. It was the best arrangement : everyone could concentrate on their own work.
However all that changed as China entered the 21st century. A boom in China’s industrial sector, rapid globalisation, cheap international travel, a booming in the tourism industry, and an almost real time information broadcasting brought the Chinese people in contact with the outer world for the first time. The Chinese came to know about democracy and the ideals of justice and liberty. Thus started the talk of the status of democracy in China. We have to note here that by 2016, China has introduced numerous reforms, liberalising its economy, and political system. Thus today, China is essentially a quasi-communist nation.
According to me, China is adapting with the times. And these adaptations are popular among the Chinese population – so much so that if China’s regime could put itself to a referendum – a democratic referendum against electoral democracy, I expect it will win the referendum. On the other hand, a talk about democracy in China should not necessarily threaten the Government. The Communist Party needs to realise that in this era of globalisation, the talk of liberty, democracy, liberality and fundamental rights is inevitable.However The West also needs to realise that democracy should not be a universal imposition, nor a perquisite for growth (especially after the current US election drama). Every system of governance has its own advantages and disadvantages, and in my opinion a quasi-communist system leaning towards liberality is the perfect blend of governance to suit China.
- One man’s food is other man’s poison .
Note:- All the opinions stated in the above article are the author’s own.