Jun 28

It seems that “democracy” has been a hot-topic in political discussions about China in the last year. We’ve seen the Beijing Olympics, the creation of Charter 08, the publication of Zhao Ziyang’s memoirs and the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen protest crackdown. However, it seems that whilst people on both sides of the debate will stick to their positions with determination, relatively few actually discuss what democracy means and what the consequences are for China.

Elections are the most common aspect of democracy that people will point to, but clearly having elections alone are not reflective of democracy. Saddam Hussein allowed elections. It was just that he was the only candidate and the results were fixed (winning 100% of the vote with 100% turnout in 2002). Clearly, then, the elections must be free and fair, as well as open to a wide range of parties and candidates. But how can an election be free and fair if all the media attention, often because it is State-controlled, goes on one candidate? Or some candidates are harassed and/or subject to legal action simply to get them disbarred from running, as has happened in Singapore? Clearly the overall system must allow free and fair elections to happen.
Continue reading »