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Sep 29

Responding to Zhang Weiwei – Democracy and China

Written by Raj on Tuesday, September 29th, 2009 at 3:00 pm
Filed under:Analysis, General, Opinion, politics | Tags:,
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I would like to thank btbr403 for translating Zhang’s article that was recently posted on to Fools Mountain. In it he said that he had never found an example of a developing country that had “realized its modernization through democratization”. He then proceeded to refute examples cited that could apply and called for a non-western form of democracy for China.

However, Zhang’s conclusions and the method he used to reach them are fundamentally flawed. It starts with a serious lack of understanding of what democracy means these days. As I discussed in a previous post, democracy is not just having elections. It is about an entire system that crosses the country, in regards to not just elections but also the media, judiciary, rule of law and civil rights. If one does not recognise how they are all linked and that if any particular aspect is attacked the rest can be equally compromised, the entire discussion becomes pointless. It also doesn’t help that he gives no definition of “modernization”.

Zhang’s complaints that examples offered such as the USA and Switzerland were not valid because they did not have equal voting rights again shows a lack of understanding. Democratic principles and mechanisms were already in place before those countries had fully developed economies. Limitations in who had the vote are red-herrings, as they were based on prejudice that we have since moved on from.

As for India, he states that it is 20-30 years behind China economically. Even if that is true it has little to do with democracy. It was mostly due to India having Socialist policies for decades after China had decided to reform its economy. In some respects one could argue that democracy in India is the reason it has started an economic surge. The ability for change in leadership of the country, not to mention the free media that is able to criticise government policy, has encouraged leaders past and present to adopt different ideas that can help the people. Let us not forget that China is behind the democratic, developed world in terms of living standards. The CCP tried failed economic policies for decades because no one was able to freely challenge it from the outside. There is no guarantee a single party state will ever become enlightened – North Korea is a good example of this.

Zhang also makes a frankly bogus argument that if “western democracy” is perfect countries will adopt it. It isn’t perfect, but left to their own devices countries will often adopt it. However, the leadership and elite in autocracies and dictatorships will resist that happening. There is a link here to China. The current middle and upper classes in China may not have the vote, but they have power or security through their financial situation. Those of these groups who say China can’t handle democracy, or not the sort practised in America and elsewhere, will say they are thinking about what’s best for China.

However, it can also be suggested that they’re mostly thinking about themselves and don’t want what they have to be disrupted by demands of the poor. Zhang himself rather admits this when he complains about peasants dominating politics in a democratic China and being unable to run the country effectively. This is a groundless fear, as in countries like the US and UK the poor had the vote long before they became even modestly well educated. The expansion of the electorate in those countries had no discernible effect on the quality of governments.

In one part Zhang takes a rather petty swipe at “the West” as a means of undermining its support for global democracy. He exploits the suffering during the world (and other) wars, saying that the West’s feeling that it was “the centre of the universe” caused those conflicts. That is a baseless accusation. The two great world wars were caused by oppressive and/or expansionist powers playing a game of chicken with other great powers – a game that they lost.

Of course the last great war and its aftermath has lessons for all of us. Germany and Japan, the aggressors, had broken economies in 1945. The level of suffering there was what we could only find in the developing world today and not even the best parts of it. Yet they are now two of the world’s most economically powerful and developed countries today, with high living standards. It is no coincidence that their economic rise followed the adoption of democratic systems early on in their post-war history. As I said earlier no system is ever perfect, but the results speak for themselves, especially as to how West Germany faired in comparison to East Germany.

Zhang also refers to a publication of Professor Edward Mansfield to further his theory. However, even by reading the link provided by Zhang we can see that the book does not suggest that adopting current democratic norms leads to internal and external conflict as Zhang alleges. Here is the important extract.

Mansfield and Snyder show that emerging democracies with weak political institutions are especially likely to go to war… Because the risk of a state’s being involved in violent conflict is high until democracy is fully consolidated, Mansfield and Snyder argue, the best way to promote democracy is to begin by building the institutions that democracy requires—such as the rule of law—and only then encouraging mass political participation and elections.

As I and others have said here, there is no suggestion that China should institute multi-party elections within years, let alone overnight. Indeed we have strongly supported the position advocated by Mansfield and Snyder, a step-by-step process building democracy from the roots up. Of course Zhang, like some other Chinese commentators, knows that scaremongering tactics can be effective. It’s a shame that he needs to misrepresent the views of others to try to make a point.

Zhang, like many Chinese who resist real political reform, suggested at the start that China has different “ideals” to Europe, America and other parts of the world. This is a hackneyed excuse about why China should not adopt a form of democracy that we see in those parts of the world. Every country has different ideals from the other, even if they share some. Is Zhang arguing that Chinese people tolerate corruption more than Germans do? Does he think that Chinese care less about the suffering of other people than South Koreans? I think that we all share a lot of values. The only issue is how they are best met. That is a technical matter, not one of values.

China’s path to becoming a real democracy will be a hard one, but I believe it will benefit in the long-run from treading that path. The view promoted by Zhang, which is that favoured by the Chinese establishment, is often misleading and factually incorrect. Whilst no two forms of democracy are exactly the same, they do have basic traits (as I outlined in my previous article). If you start stripping parts away, such as press freedoms, freedom of speech, judicial independence and multi-party rule, you’re not left with a democracy.

People like Zhang never say what democratic aspects they would cut away, because that would start to tie them down. They should be courageous enough to say what they are promoting – a modified version of the status-quo that enables China’s elite to retain control of the nation and keeps the peasants locked out. Of course, they cannot do that because the reaction from the Chinese public would be one of serious outrage that would affect their careers, just as it would happen in democratic nations. Yet another example of how China and the democratic nations of the world share values.


There are currently 2 comments highlighted: 49891, 50421.

90 Responses to “Responding to Zhang Weiwei – Democracy and China”

  1. colin Says:

    “However, Zhang’s conclusions and the method he used to reach them are fundamentally flawed.”

    Quite a bold stroke and fiery, no?

    “democracy is not just having elections. It is about an entire system that crosses the country, in regards to not just elections but also the media, judiciary, rule of law and civil rights”

    That’s just your take on it.

    “If one does not recognise how they are all linked and that if any particular aspect is attacked the rest can be equally compromised, the entire discussion becomes pointless”

    That’s your take, and according to your take, his entire discussion is pointless. Perhaps for you. I find his article much more logical and convincing.

    “It also doesn’t help that he gives no definition of “modernization”.”

    I have a good idea of what modernization means. Perhaps most people already do?

    “Zhang’s complaints that examples offered such as the USA and Switzerland were not valid because they did not have equal voting rights again shows a lack of understanding. Democratic principles and mechanisms were already in place before those countries had fully developed economies. Limitations in who had the vote are red-herrings, as they were based on prejudice that we have since moved on from.”

    So I guess democracy is still democracy, even if large parts of the population do not participate. I guess this is your flavor of democracy? One the same vein, is not the chinese system also democratic given enough latitude and exceptions? The CCP certainly thinks so.

    “People like Zhang never say what democratic aspects they would cut away”

    Are you arguing against Zhang in particular, or something else more nebulous. If the latter, I doubt it would be appropriate to attribute Zhang’s ideas to a whole group, whatever this group is.

    I could go on… but what a waste of time that would be. I’m not sure what you wanted to achieve with this article, because it doesn’t come off as a convincing refutation of the original article in question.

    Just my opinion.

  2. Raj Says:

    colin

    Quite a bold stroke and fiery, no?

    To say his thinking is flawed? I’m not sure how I could put it else if that’s what I think.

    That’s just your take on it.

    I’ve had discussions with former teachers, professors, colleagues, friends, etc on this subject, and I cannot remember the last time someone said that democracy is only about elections. Some have admitted they’ve never thought about it past elections but also agreed that my position is better than saying voting is the be all and end all.

    Not to suggest that no one or even few people think differently from me, but from my experience it is far from just my take on it.

    I have a good idea of what modernization means. Perhaps most people already do?

    Everyone has an idea, but not necessarily the same one. That’s why I guess SKC made the point about the lack of a definition in only the fourth comment on the original thread.

    So I guess democracy is still democracy, even if large parts of the population do not participate.

    As I have said previously, democracy is more than taking part in an election. So how could that be my view?

    Countries that had the sort of voting restrictions that Zhang mentions also had multi-party elections, transition of power between parties and individuals, rule of law, press freedom (certainly greater than in China), etc. Whilst the restrictions weren’t good, as I said they were based on prejudice that was plain wrong and out of place with modern society. Yet they were the roots of the democracy as exists in those countries today – the expansion of the electorate was reasonably simple. So how does mentioning the restrictions further Zhang’s arguments?

    Are you arguing against Zhang in particular

    It is mostly a response against Zhang, though I’ve noted his argument is one I’ve heard many times before so it is in response to that argument more generally.

    Just my opinion

    I’m glad to hear it. Thanks.

  3. Flags of the Republic Says:

    Hey Raj,

    It is not Zhang’s reasoning that is fundamentally flawed, but it’s yours!

    You boldly stated that, “democracy is not just having elections. It is about an entire system that crosses the country, in regards to not just elections but also the media, judiciary, rule of law and civil rights. If one does not recognise how they are all linked and that if any particular aspect is attacked the rest can be equally compromised, the entire discussion becomes pointless.”

    Gee, name one successful modern democracy where all the requirements that you stated above were met from inception.

    This is what I don’t get about all those people who think that their flagellant smells like rose. In order to be something, you have to get there somehow. And different people take different paths. A suitable path for one might be totally unsuited for another.

    I personally think that China will find it own path, to solve its own set of unique problems and mature into what it should be — a country that determines its own future, on its own terms , regardless of how much you bitch and moan.

  4. Raj Says:

    FotR

    I’m afraid you’re very much in Zhang’s company when it comes to fundamentally flawed thinking/bogus arguments. The fact countries like the US, UK, Germany and the rest weren’t democratic from day one is completely irrelevant to the subject in hand. The point is that they do now. As Mansfield says (who was referred to by Zhang), you need things like rule of law before you have elections for a successful democracy.

    A suitable path for one might be totally unsuited for another.

    Ok, so why would it be unsuitable for China to aim for an independent judiciary, as free a media as anyone can expect (from State manipulation anyway), freedom of speech and multi-party elections with universal suffrage? Why do people like Zhang have to aim for something that doesn’t include all of those things?

    regardless of how much you bitch and moan

    Yeah, because it’s not like any Chinese people believe in “western” democracy. And certainly if they do and disagree with the CCP and the rest of the Chinese establishment, they aren’t harassed by the Police/security forces in an effort to shut them up.

    Hey, wait a minute….

  5. Flags of the Republic Says:

    Raj,

    “The fact countries like the US, UK, Germany and the rest weren’t democratic from day one is completely irrelevant to the subject in hand.”

    Of course it does! It shows that it’s a process, sometimes a long and arduous one, for these countries to get to where they are today.

    Ok, so why would it be unsuitable for China to aim for an independent judiciary, as free a media as anyone can expect (from State manipulation anyway), freedom of speech and multi-party elections with universal suffrage? Why do people like Zhang have to aim for something that doesn’t include all of those things?

    I never said that it was unsuitable.

    Yeah, because it’s not like any Chinese people believe in “western” democracy.

    I don’t anymore. Partly because of people like you, but mainly because I grew up. That doesn’t mean that I don’t belive in democracy, anymore. It is just the case that I am not young, dumb anymore. I opened my eyes and realized all those pomptous asses pontificating to us are just full of it. And more importantly, I realized that we can achieve our own dreams, form a system that works for us.

    Profanity deleted

  6. pug_ster Says:

    @Raj #4

    I agree with what Fotr says that you are talking completely opposite of what Zhang WeiWei’s central theme. Mr Zhang was talking about the issues of exporting Western Democracy and why China should not follow in their steps while you are talking about why China didn’t import ideas of Western Democracy.

    When Mr Zhang is talking about “building a new civil democratic society of prosperity and harmony” it does not include Western Democracy. There’s a recent CNN interview with a couple of young students from the CYL (communist youth league) and they mention the same theme of building a more just and fair society. (Those morons at CNN think communists still wear those outdated mao suits.)

    http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/09/28/china.anniversary.young.communists/

    This is what the Chinese leaders are trying to strive to create is ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics” is not following the steps of Western Democracy, and not following Mao’s footsteps either. But it is considered a work in progress.

  7. Allen Says:

    @Raj,

    I actually agree with this part you wrote:

    [D]emocracy is not just having elections. It is about an entire system that crosses the country, in regards to not just elections but also the media, judiciary, rule of law and civil rights. If one does not recognise how they are all linked and that if any particular aspect is attacked the rest can be equally compromised, the entire discussion becomes pointless.

    ….

    If you start stripping parts away, such as press freedoms, freedom of speech, judicial independence and multi-party rule, you’re not left with a democracy.

    When we talk about democracy, we need to keep in mind also the difference between a democracy in form and democracy in substance. Democracies are useful only when they are vibrant and dynamic. Democratic power needs to be actively exercised by people for the system to work for the people. Merely having democratic institutions is not enough.

    I feel comfortable saying democracy is not just about a system – it’s about an ecosystem if you will. I would propose for a stable democratic to work – i.e. to serve the people – it’s not just about freedom of press, rule of law, elections, multi-party system. Yes, having each of these elements is difficult enough (in Taiwan, there are accusations that the judiciary is not developed enough, with many judges being young grads just a few years out of school…; it’s worse in Mainland China), but we need more. Other important elements, including the social culture, people’s education, people living conditions, etc., also needs to be taken into account.

    Democracy is about getting people involved in governance to actuate good governance. Democracy for the sake of democracy per se doesn’t get us anywhere. If the average Joe on the street does not exercise their democratic duties diligently, democracy degenerates merely into a platform for disunity, for enabling different special interests to leech off society!

    Talking about effective governance, everyone should take a deep look at how “democratic” a modern democratic gov’t really is. I’m not talking about the controversial part like whether Republican Party and Democratic Party in the U.S. really presents a real choice to the American people (when both are in the pockets of the defense, large corporations, special interests, etc.), I am talking about understanding how much of modern gov’t in reality are run by career bureaucrats – such as (again talking about the U.S. here) the FDA, IRS, EPA, PTO, etc., etc. – not elected officials.

    In modern governance, effective management (administrative governance) is as important as democratic checks and balances. And there are many forms of democratic checks and balances besides democracies. (I remember reading somewhere that the CCP – compared to other democratically elected gov’t – is very attune to the mood of the people, partly because it is so “paranoid” about losing control…)

    China needs a government responsive to the people – yes. China needs a government that is effectively run – yes.

    But it’s an ecosystem involving many actors – involving many complex social, cultural, and political factors and movements besides just the “form of government.” I don’t think it’s just democracy this and democracy that…

    Anyways – I have to apologize I don’t have too much time to respond Raj, but your bold post compels me to at least put in at least a quick word! 😉

  8. Raj Says:

    FotR

    It shows that it’s a process, sometimes a long and arduous one, for these countries to get to where they are today.

    Which is what I said in the second to last paragraph. You did read my post, didn’t you?

    I never said that it was unsuitable.

    Then why talk about different paths and unsuitability? I have never said that China should tread exactly the same path as any one country.

    And more importantly, I realized that we can achieve our own dreams, form a system that works for us.

    You’re a PRC Chinese citizen living in China? Just curious, as we don’t get that many of them on the blog.

    ++++

    pugster

    Mr Zhang was talking about the issues of exporting Western Democracy and why China should not follow in their steps while you are talking about why China didn’t import ideas of Western Democracy

    I wasn’t talking about why China didn’t previous important ideas of democracy. I was responding to the points Mr Zhang made in regards to China’s future political development.

    Those morons at CNN think communists still wear those outdated mao suits

    The journalist said “an army of suits with well-rehearsed answers”. You know what Americans mean when they talk about a “suit”. You’re imagining the reference to Mao suits.

    This is what the Chinese leaders are trying to strive to create is ’socialism with Chinese characteristics” is not following the steps of Western Democracy

    I thought it was democracy with Chinese characteristics. In any case, I have said previously that I see the “with Chinese characteristics” term as a weaselish way of squirming out of the need to bring in actual democracy.

    ++++

    Allen

    Thanks for taking the time to respond.

    Democracy is about getting gov’t to work for the benefit of all the people.

    It depends what you mean. Democracy is in part about the government’s work benefiting everyone, but it’s also about other things. Such as ensuring that individuals and the media can say “you’re not benefiting everyone” or people and parties running against the government, offering a different solution. About the courts saying “hold on, you’re acting illegally – just because you say you’re benefiting the people doesn’t make it right”. And so forth.

    It’s not about enabling different special interests to cannibalize each other!

    I’m not quite sure where that comment came from.

    China needs a government responsive to the people – yes. China needs a government that is effectively run – yes.

    There’s a lot to add to that, but for the moment I will say:

    China needs a system that protects people’s rights even when they conflict with the ruling party’s interests – yes.
    China needs rule of law – yes.
    China needs an independent judiciary to ensure rule of law happens – yes.
    China needs a media free of State censors to monitor the government – yes.
    China needs a multi-party system to help stop the ruling party getting complacent and acting primarily according to its best interests instead of the country’s, or limit the damage by ejecting it in national elections – yes.

  9. lchen Says:

    Raj — stop telling Chinese what to do. If you are so smart, why not move yourself onto the moon 🙂

    Not collapsed by Raj

  10. pug_ster Says:

    Raj

    You’re in danger of looking a bit stupid yourself. The journalist said “an army of suits with well-rehearsed answers”. You know what Americans mean when they talk about a “suit”. You’re imagining the reference to Mao suits.

    If you had bothered to read the next sentence after wards: “I expected an army of suits with well-rehearsed answers. Instead, we met three students casually dressed in jeans, just 18 to 23 years old.” They seem surprised that they are wearing (IE Jeans) rather than “army of suits” in the first sentence. Thus CNN poor choice in words which I believe that the author is joking about Mao suits.

    BTW, you seem to violate the rules of the forum of talking about “You’re in danger of looking a bit stupid yourself” thus talking about the poster instead of the topic at hand.

  11. Allen Says:

    @Raj #8,

    I may have made a boo-boo. I had made some edits to my comment earlier but in my haste going about work today I forgot to click save until much later (maybe more than 20 minutes after I had first written the comment). I had changed the cannibalize to leech statement. Maybe that doesn’t matter. Maybe your point is probably the same – where did that come from???

    I guess you got me. I don’t know! 😀

    My motive in writing it is to articulate the point that democracy doesn’t always do what’s good for society – if not properly channelled, it could be used as a platform for fostering bickering and disunity – something which has caused so much pain for China in the 20th century.

  12. Bridge Says:

    @ Raj #8

    China needs a system that protects people’s rights even when they conflict with the ruling party’s interests – yes.
    China needs rule of law – yes.
    China needs an independent judiciary to ensure rule of law happens – yes.

    These three are basically the same thing – ensuring the development and enforcement of rule of law. There’s no need to separate them to make your list look impressive. Beside, rule of law is being developed and it takes time. Please be patient.

    China needs a media free of State censors to monitor the government – yes.

    Yes? Really? But who is going to monitor the so called ‘free media’? The general public? The Chinese used to believe the free media of the west, but now they don’t, and you know why it is so. I’m not promoting the Chinese state run media, but hey, the Chinese don’t think the western free media is any better. So, why change from something bad to something equally bad (if not worse). The west need to prove to the Chinese that a free media is also a responsible media. Unfortunately, they failed.

    China needs a multi-party system to help stop the ruling party getting complacent and acting primarily according to its best interests instead of the country’s, or limit the damage by ejecting it in national elections – yes.

    This statement is fully loaded and sounds like a slogan of government propaganda. It’s like saying ‘don’t take medications, they have side effects that might kill you’. You do realise that a one-party system has its advantages, don’t you?
    I could equally claim that the UK needs a one-party system to help cut the time and money they waste on all kinds of elections and build a more efficient government so it can work for its people instead of their rich and privileged class.

    I’m looking forward to more entries in your list.

  13. Zepplin Says:

    Raj, Zhang’s conclusions may be flawed, but not nearly as flawed as your attempts to refute him.

    You can’t force Zhang to “understand” what your version of “democracy means these days”, especially when he is talking about the past, not the present. It’s far more reasonable in this context to understand it as elections; otherwise Zhang would have said “the rule of law has never led to modernization”.

    What you call “democratic principles and mechanisms”, rule of law, property rights, etc. are indeed in place in USA before development, having been adopted from Britain. But Zhang can simply turn it around and use this as an example of how voting is not necessary for modernization, which is his point.

    As for India, you claim that democracy helped, but socialism hurt. Aside from a complete lack of substantiation, you fail to see that it is exactly democracy that has preserved socialism in India. China’s autocracy has resulted in a more capitalist economic system, which you claim to promote growth. Indeed, the CCP tried failed economic policies for decades, but India was independent earlier than China. What does that say about its economic political system?

    The separation of govn’t and people is a common flawed thinking in the pro-democracy camp. You say that the Chinese leadership are stopping the Chinese people from choosing democracy as if an alien race implanted them upon the poor oppressed populace. “Left to their own devices”, the Chinese people had civil wars and revolutions, and ultimately resulted in the current government. If they indeed demand democracy, they will either reform or revolt. That’s what leaving them to their own devices means. Absolving the people (in the cultural historic context) of the sins of their chosen (however indirectly) leaders is plain silly.

    By the way, thinking of the demands of the poor is what socialism is. Yes we can!

    I’m not a historian, but it seems to me Germany and Japan both modernized without democracy. Japan’s rise under the emperor is particularly astonishing. And it seems to me their one party system served them pretty well until the lost decade. It certainly doesn’t satisfy your definition of democracy.

    I give Zhang more credit than “scaremongering”. I also do not see him “resisting real political reform” such as rule of law; it’s simply a harangue against Western lecturing. He even explicitly accepts democracy as a universal value.

    That said, Zhang’s piece is indeed flawed. Not only does he simply rehash the same old arguments, he brushes away many counterexamples such as Costa Rica with arbitrary “development” measures and keeps changing the metric used to measure both “democracy” and “success”. Economic evidence used to justify political systems is very circumstantial, considering the numerous variables which goes into economic development. This is why he needed to show overwhelmingly that not a single counterpoint exists. He failed to do so.

  14. Steve Says:

    @ Ichen #9: Again, your comment was nothing but an ad hominum attack. If you continue to do this, you’ll be placed in the moderation queue.

  15. Charles Liu Says:

    zepplin @ 13, “Raj, Zhang’s conclusions may be flawed, but not nearly as flawed as your attempts to refute him.”

    Absolutely agree.

    Right off the bat Raj wrongly attributes his “lack of understanding”, “not just having election” critique to Zhang, while the original article clearly shows the agreed upon understanding of democracy was from an European scholar in the audience:

    An European scholar asked me, “when do you think China will start democratization?”

    “What is your definition of democracy?” I replied.

    He was quite annoyed, and abruptly said, “simple: one person, one vote, general elections, power alternation.” Then he added, “at least, this is how we Europeans see it.”

  16. Steve Says:

    @ pug_ster #10: The expression “army of suits” is an older expression means a bunch of impersonal men dressed in conservative three piece suits armed with corporate doublespeak. I believe it originally appeared in the ’50s. In league with it is the expression “empty suit” that refers to them individually. They are all toeing the company line and have no sense of individuality.

    It’s not a reference to Mao jackets since Americans wouldn’t think of them as suits. Having said that, you were not in any danger of appearing stupid since colloquial expressions can be very difficult to understand, especially if you are not originally from the culture. My wife has lived here for 31 years and they still throw her. 😉

  17. pug_ster Says:

    @Steve 16,

    I tried googling ‘Army of Suits” and I don’t get any clear definitions but if you watched the video in cnn’s website, there’s a bunch of people wearing mao suits so that’s what I assumed the meaning is from. Who knows, I think the author of that stupid cnn article could very well imply Army of Suits as Mao Suits since old expression seems to be gone like the days of mao suits.

    @Zepplin 18

    I agree. I think China’s leaders are pragmatic and realistic and shouldn’t need idealistic ‘advice’ of Western Nations as this kind of Shock Doctrine does not work. They should know, the madness of Mao zedong’s Great leap foward and cultural revolution resulted in disaster. Even when Deng Xiaopeng’s opening up after 1978 has been relatively painful in the first few years.

  18. hzzz Says:

    “democracy is not just having elections. It is about an entire system that crosses the country, in regards to not just elections but also the media, judiciary, rule of law and civil rights.” – Raj

    Using this definition India is not even a Democracy. After all, India has the world’s caste system and the Dalit class, or the “untouchables” is made up of some 160 million people. Here is the take on this from Human Rights Watch (http://www.hrw.org/legacy/englishwr2k8/docs/2008/01/31/india17605.htm)

    “Rights of Dalits and Indigenous Tribal Groups
    In March 2007, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) urged the government to take effective measures to protect Dalits and tribal groups. Dalits and indigenous peoples (known as Scheduled Tribes or adivasis) continue to face discrimination, exclusion, and acts of communal violence. Laws and policies adopted by the Indian government provide a strong basis for protection, but are not being faithfully implemented by local authorities. Instead of addressing these concerns, the Indian government insists that caste is not the same as race and therefore discrimination based on caste and tribe falls outside the mandate of CERD.”

    I also think it’s pretty difficult to argue one way or another whether Japan and Germany have modernized THROUGH democracy, or whether they would of modernized through the billions of reconstruction money. Using Raj’s logic I can also argue that the success of Taiwan (pre-1996) and Singapore was done through authoritarianism. That’s absurd. By the same token, Zhang’s “challenge” itself is absurd, because as I wrote in an earlier post Modernization is done through the correct policy, how the leader became the leader let it be democracy or coup is irrelevant.
    *edit*
    In the current climate, I think it would be very difficult to convince masses of Chinese that Democracy is the better system. It’s difficult because of China’s economic successes over the years. People tend to resist change when things are going well for them, and it’s difficult to find another nation which rose as quickly as China on its own to prove that things could be even better with change. Lastly, I think the whole Confucius belief system popular in China is very pro-authoritarian (it was pushed by emperors to justify their mandate after all). However, seeing that Taiwan can have free elections I believe that China may become a democracy someday, although it will probably look a lot more like Japan’s system, where the single ruling party dominated politics for decades.

  19. Raj Says:

    @ Zepplin (13)

    I don’t agree with your thinking that I have made such significant errors. It isn’t more reasonable to understand democracy through elections. Moreover one of my points is that he doesn’t seem to understand what democracy is. He believed that he was talking about democracy when he was only looking at one aspect of it. In any case, China is already modernising so why would he say it at all?

    Zhang could have made a rebuttal as you suggested, but even if he had he still would have been wrong. Even with all the democratic facets bar elections, having one party in power forever gives them all the time in the world to undermine those aspects. Only with the ability to eject the party do you have a chance of stopping it.

    Democracy has ensured that there was/is a social dimension to Indian politics, but that does not mean it was foisted on Indian politicians unwillingly. Without multi-party elections as I said there is no guarantee the ruling party will become enlightened. Democracy helped change Indian economic policy. It’s no coincidence that following the 1991 election, Manmohan Singh received his appointment and helped liberalise the economy, leading to higher growth.

    China was independent long before India. There was an on-going civil war in the former after 1945, but Mao had won by 1949 only two years after Indian independence.

    I said nothing about the Chinese leadership stopping Chinese people choosing anything. I was responding to Zhang’s daft and snide comment that if “western” democracy was so perfect countries would be rushing to adopt it. As I said, it is often the case that autocratic regimes and/or the elites in those countries will try to block it. However, it is true that the Chinese government/elite do control and manipulate discussion of political reform. Whilst it is not the case that the Chinese people are itching for democracy, the debate in China has been limited to the point where there are few Chinese people able to strongly advocate for it. That affects how people think. If the Chinese government and friends backed off and let the conversation develop naturally, one might be surprised what the country thought after some time.

    Left to their own devices Chinese people had civil wars? Err, no, left to their own devices Chinese people will work, eat and play. The last civil war was a dust up between the KMT and CCP. And saying that if Chinese people want democracy they can reform or rebel, the first isn’t allowed by the ruling class and the second would end in their execution. Chinese people are not Borg drones – they don’t think together, so it would take a massive crisis to provoke them to rise up. They shouldn’t have to wait for that if they want political reform.

    There is little Socialist about modern China, and I do not think that the current regime or its successors in a one-party system will change that.

    West Germany was a democracy – rebuilding a shattered economy after WWII was pretty hard. And even after Japan opened up in the 19th century, there was democratic reform. Do some research into “Taishō democracy”. Post-WWII it went the way of West Germany.

    If Zhang isn’t scaremongering, why did he feel the need to completely misrepresent the Mansfield text? It seems to me that he found some useful themes in it and then discarded the rest of it because it actually pointed out that democracy is fine if you build it up properly.

    By the way, I agree with the criticisms you raised against Zhang in your last paragraph.

    ++++

    @ Charles (15)

    Who was this “European scholar”? We don’t have a name, so we don’t know whether Zhang is also misrepresenting what he said, didn’t give him enough time to elaborate or indeed whether this guy has any substantive understanding of the characteristics of democracy himself.

    In any case, if Zhang needed someone to tell him I’m not sure how he could have formed these well-rehearsed ideas. Clearly, he didn’t need to be told – he was looking for a convenient springboard.

    @ pugster (16)

    I suggest you look for the slang definition of “suit”. It refers to the sort of person who always wears a business suit and is impersonal/formal. “Army” just refers to a large number of people.

    Whatever you thought at the time, I think that you were jumping to conclusions. There is no implication of it being about Mao suits.

    @ hzzz (18)

    As I said, no system is perfect, and India is still a developing country in terms of democracy and economy. But it is also true that there are Dalit ministers at the regional and national level in India. That’s a sign that things are a lot better than they used to be. After all it was Ghandi, India’s greatest advocate of democracy, that helped raise their status. Had it not been for democracy they’d have no rights at all.

  20. pug_ster Says:

    @Raj 19

    No I’m not jumping to conclusions. If you had bothered watching the video, there was an old video Chinese Army wearing Mao Suits, thus the stupid joke of Army of Suits. Perhaps you have a lack of imagination.

  21. Steve Says:

    @ pug_ster #20: I hadn’t watched the video, just read the article and looked at the three photos. After your comment, I also watched the video but I still can’t make the connection you did. The old Chinese Army part was just putting things in historical context. About the Mao suits, no one I’ve ever heard in the States called them Mao suits. They’ve always been called Mao jackets here. In fact, I’ve never heard the word “suit” used regarding a military uniform.

    I’m not trying to get into an argument here, I’m just letting you know my impressions. 🙂

  22. pug_ster Says:

    @Steve 21

    I am not trying to convince you or Raj of the Mao Suit thing and I respect your opinion. When you have 2 people reading something like this CNN article, you will have 2 different opinions. The fact that Raj doesn’t respect other people’s opinion instead calling other people stupid and wrong.

  23. Steve Says:

    @ pug_ster #22: Actually, I’m glad you made the point because it allowed me to see the video and expression from a completely different point of view. When that happens, it reminds me of admin’s original intent for this blog, to facilitate cross cultural communication. 😛

  24. Raj Says:

    @ pugster (10)

    I noticed the comment you referred to and removed it accordingly.

    (22)

    I can be crotchety, and I’m sorry for being rude – I do respect the fact that people have different opinions. My issue with you wasn’t that you initially misunderstood what the author was trying to say, it was that you seemed to refuse to accept the point that Steve and I were making. I understand it’s possible someone can get the wrong idea as you did. But can I be clear, do you accept that the author did not mean to imply he/she thought these people would be wearing Mao suits and that he/she was talking about something else?

  25. Raj Says:

    @ Bridge (12)

    The reason I separated them was to make the progression in thought clear. It wasn’t about making an “impressive” list – I don’t think Allen would care whether I put them together or separately.

    Yes, rule of law takes time, but I keep hearing many fine words from the Chinese government and little action. I see no interest from it/the CCP in making the judiciary independent of the Party.

    The public can monitor the free media in some respects, but more usually it is the task of the courts and national (though not necessarily government-appointed) regulators. There is no reason why the media must be able to say and do anything in the name of press freedom. How China in the future balances press freedom and good journalism is important, but that doesn’t mean that the government should have protection from direct and sometimes angry criticism.

    I recognise that last point might be unbalanced. I was trying to stress the merits of multi-party politics. In theory one party politics can be positive, but because humans are flawed it’s normally on balance negative. We don’t spend that much money and time on elections (in relation to our GDP) because they’re held in sequence. A lot of ordinary people (including myself) chip in so the work and effort is spread around.

    Out of the different political systems, multi-party democracy probably benefits the rich/privileged the least because it’s so much harder for them to influence things than in an autocracy or dictatorship where there are a small number of people (who can’t be voted out of office) near the top that they can work on.

  26. pug_ster Says:

    @Raj 24,

    First of all, I did not initially misunderstood, as my interperation of ‘army of suits’ is a bunch of old stiffs wearing over-starched suits. Steve says that this is mostly corporate and Western in nature. And since the author implies the army of suits to Chinese students, I am thinking that he is not referring Western suits, rather than Chinese suits. The only kind of distinctive kind of Chinese suit is Mao suit so that’s how I came to that answer. As ‘army of suits’ is just a slang and I think the author implies something slightly different.

    Second, you barely explained your point of view and I did accept Steve’s point of view. As I disagree with his point of view and trying to explain mine.

  27. Raj Says:

    So you’re saying that you still believe he/she meant Mao suits? You don’t accept he/she meant western suits or didn’t mean to imply the suits were region-specific? As I said I recognise you and others may have thought something different, I was trying to be clear as to what you think the author meant now. Saying you respected Steve’s view isn’t the same as agreeing he’s right.

    By the way, I’m collapsing our latest comments because it’s too off topic. In fact it’s so off-topic I think we should move on very soon.

  28. Jason Says:

    Raj,

    Can you explain why these people has much disgust of democracy?

    “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!”

    ~ Benjamin Franklin, leader of the American Revolution

    “We are a Republican Government. Real liberty is never found in despotism or in the extremes of Democracy… It has been observed that a pure democracy if it were practicable would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies in which the people themselves deliberated never possessed one good feature of government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity.”

    ~ Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury to George Washington, author of the Federalist Papers

    “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

    ~ John Adams, 2nd President of the United States

    “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.”

    ~ Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States

    “Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their death.

    ~ James Madison, 4th President of the United States, Father of the Constitution

    “The experience of all former ages had shown that of all human governments, democracy was the most unstable, fluctuating and short-lived.”

    ~ John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the United States

    “Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos.”

    ~ John Marshall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, 1801-1835

    Since you live in England, here’s two quotes from Winston Churchill:

    “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

    “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.”

  29. Steve Says:

    @ Jason #28: All those examples were talking about majority rule (50% +1) democracy. That was the big fear when the country was established, that the minorities would be overruled by the majorities and would lose their rights and privileges, and that the more populated States would rule over the least populated ones. That’s why the Constitution was established with checks and balances, why the government was divided into three separate branches, why the Senate has equal state representation while the House is based on population, and why Senators were originally appointed by the state legislatures rather than elected by the people. This was later changed by constitutional amendment.

    John Marshall felt a strong executive branch should balance the legislative in terms of power and that’s what he was referring to in that quotation. I’m familiar with most of these quotes but they really need to be read in context to be understood. Since Raj is a Brit, I’m not sure how familiar he is with our political texts. I’m sure he can give you a whole lot more insight into the Churchill quotes.

  30. Jason Says:

    @Steve

    United States is not a Democracy first of all but rather than A FEDERAL REPUBLIC. All the Americans thinkers including Winston Churchill has debunked Raj’s assertion that PURE (as Raj stated) Democracy is good.

    The word “democracy” appears nowhere in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution – two most fundamental documents of US. Instead of a democracy, the Constitution’s Article IV, Section 4, guarantees “to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.” Moreover, let me ask you a couple of common sense question: Does the pledge of allegiance to the flag say to “the democracy for which it stands,” or does it say to “the republic for which it stands”? Or do Americans sing “The Battle Hymn of the Democracy” or “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”?

  31. yo Says:

    Raj,
    “Out of the different political systems, multi-party democracy probably benefits the rich/privileged the least because it’s so much harder for them to influence things than in an autocracy or dictatorship where there are a small number of people (who can’t be voted out of office) near the top that they can work on.”

    Seeing how things work in the U.S.(or anywhere else for that matter), that’ s not saying a lot 🙂

  32. Steve Says:

    @ Jason #30: You’re confusing the system of government with the system of election. Democracy is a system of election. A federal republic is a system of government that forms a nation. Democracy is used within the federal republic as a method of electing the offices spelled out in the constitution of the republic. The spelling out of how democracy works uses words such as “chosen by the people”, “vote” and “holding elections”.

    Per the US Constitution, “The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States…” spells out the form of democracy used. “Chosen… by the People” is democracy. Then it says, “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof” where the words “holding elections” refers to the democratic process. And again, “No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected” where “elected” refers to democracy. And again, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude–“ where “to vote” indicates a democracy. And again, “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years;” where “elected by the people” indicates democracy. And again, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” where “to vote” indicates a democracy. And again, “No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice,” where “be elected” indicates a democracy. And finally, “The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.” where “to vote” indicates a democracy.

    Winston Churchill wasn’t an American thinker, he was British. However, he had an American mother which led to his famous speech in the US Congress during WWII where he said, “If my father had been American and my mother British, instead of the other way ’round, I might have got here on my own!”

    Jason, to be honest, your post comment indicates a lack of understanding of the basic principles of government. Any Political Science 101 textbook lays all this out. The United States is a Federal Republic that has a democratic form of government. If you don’t understand what that means, you ought to learn more about it rather than make uninformed comments on this blog. A pure democracy would consist of no elections and no legislature. All voting for every law would be taken by a vote of all the citizens. This is obviously impractical except on a limited basis, which is where the “proposition system” comes into play.

    Why would anyone write a song about or pledge allegiance to a voting system?

  33. Jason Says:

    A republic is a nation ruled by law. The highest law in a republic is its constitution. In a republic everyone obeys the constitution.

    A democracy, on the other hand, is a nation ruled by men. The highest law in a democracy is the “Will of the People.” In a democracy, everyone obeys a man who represents the Will of the People. A man who represents the Will of the People is better known as a dictator.

    As I stated that the American thinkers was afraid of Democracy and despised it and America was turned to a federal republic which is now the system as of today. But now things has gone murky under Bush II and Obama. Stripping our rights and stripping the Constitution rights has made the United States more fascist.

  34. Steve Says:

    I think Raj brought up a good point in his initial piece concerning India. The problem with India isn’t democracy, it’s with their huge and highly inefficient bureaucracy and legal system, developed in their socialist days when they were allied with the USSR and which has unfortunately continued to this day. There is still a plethora of tariffs, taxes, regulations, bureaucratic red tape, etc. that hinders job growth and business development. These also vary from state to state so certain states, districts and cities are much more developed than others which continue to maintain the old socialist regulations.

    In a way, the complete breakdown of the economic system in the Cultural Revolution was such a shock that Deng was able to institute top down reforms without much resistance from a bureaucracy that had just spent years working in the fields. The country was ready for a big change and once that change started, the positive results were so noticeable and positive that further change was happily accepted. India never went through such hardships and their bureaucracy has never been out of power. Democratic elections have become the major agent of change but even those progressive elected officials have had to fight the entrenched bureaucracy in order to effect it.

    I think Zhang tries to paint too rosy a picture sometimes. I’ve read there are approximately 80,000 demonstrations per year in China. I don’t know how accurate that number is so I’ll take it with a grain of salt but regardless of the true number, the frequency of protest is extremely high. I doubt these protests are being instigated by the upper and middle classes, so that would mean the current system hasn’t been too kind to the rest of the country, which also forms the majority of the population. Because there is no outlet to express their frustrations, i.e. the voting booth, these frustrations are expressed as demonstrations. I doubt anyone thinks this is a viable long term solution, including the Chinese government.

    No two democracies are ever the same. There is ample room for China to develop her republic along democratic lines that are unique to her political and cultural situation. To do so, the powers in charge will have to trust the people rather than treat the people like children who need to be nurtured and scolded. They’ll also have to give up some of their current monopoly on power and that is where the difficulty lies. People in power love the use of power, and don’t give it up easily.

  35. pug_ster Says:

    @Raj 27,

    So you’re saying that you still believe he/she meant Mao suits? You don’t accept he/she meant western suits or didn’t mean to imply the suits were region-specific?

    Read my post in #26, again. The author didn’t imply the suits was Western or Eastern in origin, so since he referred army of suits to a couple of Chinese students so I assumed it be eastern in origin.

    As I said I recognise you and others may have thought something different, I was trying to be clear as to what you think the author meant now. Saying you respected Steve’s view isn’t the same as agreeing he’s right.

    If the reporter reports what he/she sees, I don’t see any bias. IE, if he said, there are 3 students from CYL, two of them wearing blue jeans. However, the reporter interjected his/her opinion of how these students are perceived by making the Army of suits comment. Thus the problem of this reporter with of trying of being non-biased, when in matter of fact he is biased. Thus, what the author meant is subject to scrutiny.

    @Jason,

    Good point about the Federalist Republic analogy. Maybe that’s why the Federalist party went away more than 100 years ago.

  36. sids Says:

    Steve- India might have inherited the highly inefficient bureaucracy and legal system from USSR. But they have what 30-40 years to fix the problem why havnt they done anything?
    The thing you have mention quote “There is still a plethora of tariffs, taxes, regulations, bureaucratic red tape, etc. that hinders job growth and business development in India. These also vary from state to state so certain states, districts and cities are much more developed than others which continue to maintain the old socialist regulations”, if a democractically elected government didnt try to change those thing you have mention that is plaguing the growth and development of India whether its district state or national than who should have done it? Than what is the point of electing a democractic government if they are not willing to change for the better of the people. Just compare the literacy rate between India and China its 91% for China and 61% for India that is a freaken huge gap.

    “No two democracies are ever the same. There is ample room for China to develop her republic along democratic lines that are unique to her political and cultural situation. To do so, the powers in charge will have to trust the people rather than treat the people like children who need to be nurtured and scolded. They’ll also have to give up some of their current monopoly on power and that is where the difficulty lies. People in power love the use of power, and don’t give it up easily.” Well what is the unique political and cultural situation for China for the pass 5000 thousand years is rule by one central government isnt what they are doing now, and the central government has never trusted the citizen either.

  37. Steve Says:

    @ sids #36: I don’t disagree with anything you say, I’m just showing reasons for it. Trying to tame a bureaucracy gone wild is very difficult. Take Japan; during the “bubbling years”, the bureaucracy took credit for all the good things that happened there even though they really didn’t have as much to do with it as they thought. Now they are exceedingly hard to rein in and still hold most of the power. This is in the 2nd largest economy in the world, so though they’ve been in the economic doldrums for over 15 years, the bureaucracy is still in charge.

    India was even worse. Their bureaucratic inefficiencies are legendary. I remember a story about an Indian company which got a contract to make blue jeans for an American manufacturer. It was substantial and would provide employment to many poor people. So they built the plant, brought in the equipment, hired the people and only had one more thing to do. They needed to hook up power to run the plant. No problem; the power plant was less than a mile away. So they waited, and waited, and waited, and waited… but the bureaucracy could never seem to get them hooked up so finally they had to close the plant. That story stayed with me. It probably happened 10-15 years ago if my memory serves me correctly so I hope things are better but I still think there are many inefficiencies there.

    All governments wrestle with bureaucracies, including China. It’s just a part of government that everyone has to continually battle. Also, I wouldn’t get too excited about those literacy numbers in China; one reason they are so high is because the qualification for literacy was substantially lowered. It was on another post we had here a few months ago, and came as a surprise to me.

    One reason Sweden has a successful socialist state is because they probably have the most efficient bureaucracy in the world. Sweden is also a democracy. That bureaucracy has been ultra efficient for hundreds of years and this efficiency is a point of pride with the bureaucracy. The bureaucracy in the States is efficient in some departments and inefficient in others. State government bureaucracies tend to be very inefficient.

    An autocratic government can have a horribly inefficient and corrupt bureaucracy or it can have an efficient one. In general, most autocratic governments are inefficient. Democracies can also be efficient or inefficient. The difference tends to be within the culture. China has a tradition of a relatively efficient yet corrupt bureaucracy.

    Why is the Chinese literacy rate higher than in India? Because in general, the Chinese culture places a higher priority on education than in most other countries. Is Chinese regulation really that efficient? Or are Chinese people and businessmen just better at getting around the regulations in order to be successful?

    Trying to slap simple answers on to complex questions can lead to inaccurate conclusions. The question isn’t whether China or India has a better education system based on their government structure, but whether China would have a more responsive, effective government if changes to the structure and selection of that government were made.

    China has not had the same government structure for the past 5000 years. I’m not Chinese but I’ve read enough of the history to understand that. Their government structure, for it’s historical time period, was very efficient and more efficient that most of the rest of the world. At times, it was the most efficient government structure in the world. But other government structures were invented and refined that superseded the Chinese system and that caused China to regress. The government wasn’t able to adapt to changing circumstances for more than a limited period of time before corruption, decline and stagnation. If China goes back to the old form of government, hubris will set in. Times change, and so do people’s attitudes. What people were willing to accept in the Ming dynasty is not acceptable today.

    I ought to point out again that I actually agree with Zhang Weiwei’s conclusions, I just don’t agree with his reasoning. He sounds to me like he’s trying to justify set positions rather than figure out which positions are best for China. In ancient Greece, these people were called sophists.

  38. sids Says:

    Steve- That is a good reply.
    But the difference between China than India or Japan, is that for China CCP to keep a legitamcy on ruling the chinese, the government must act if the bureaucracy is so deficient that will cause a massive protest or social unrest. But for a democractic country do the incumbant government really care or the need to tackle the problem head on. Because they know the cycle of democracy, they will be back in power in 4-8 years anyway. Why take a risk on something that is not easy to solve. Secondly the opposition party will never help the incumbant party by giving them ideas to solve the problem because it could be detrimental to their upcoming election. Look at the replublican of the USA they have not try to help improving the education or health for the american its always the democract trying to tackle all this difficult reform now including climate changes. And if health bill fail it could really put a dent on Obama re-election and Republican will probably get re-elcted and here we go of 4-8 years of no policy reform but increase military spending.
    Other problem for democracy is the ideology of different parties that they cannot put on a long term planning for the country. Because of different parties get elected in a cycle of 4-12 year most of them only aim for short term vote grabbing policy and neglect the long term health of a nation which it could be fatal. You can look at the Australia labour party reform in the early 90’s of financial and banking sector by hawk/keating government. Than when the boom come and the time to ripe the benefit of the reform done by labour, the liberal was luckily got into power at the right time and John Howard took a basically free ride for 12 years. But he did have the balls to introduce GST and if he wasnt greedy and past the leadership to Peter Costello the Liberal party could be in power for another 4 years.

    For your second quotation Steve i was just trying to be sarcastic ^.^.

    My take on What China should become, i’m quite fond of just a one party rule with election go up to state level. To me that is the best way to protect the minorities in China. If you have a nation wide election with 90% Hans it basically make the other ethnics non existant.

  39. sids Says:

    I meant one party rule for federal (like CCP) and multi party election for state.

  40. S.K. Cheung Says:

    I have no problem with Zhang and others saying what an eventual Chinese “democracy” will NOT be. China will not make this or that mistake, and her form of democracy will not be the US system transplanted overseas. That’s all fine and good. But after waxing poetic about what he doesn’t stand for, at some point a guy has to declare what he does stand for. That seems lacking in his stuff thus far. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your POV, he’s not alone.

    To Jason #33:
    “A man who represents the Will of the People is better known as a dictator.” – you’re kidding, right. You seem to have it backwards… a dictator is one who imposes his will on the people.

    To Pugster and Raj:
    “army of suits” is just one of those phrases that has connotations other than the literal meaning. This is not the first nor last time CNN or any other outlet will produce something that might cause linguistic misinterpretation. Perhaps we can leave it at that?

  41. real name Says:

    38.
    Other problem for democracy … they cannot put on a long term planning for the country.
    maybe you will be surprised but such plans are quite common, just maybe more united with state institutions than parties directly
    if i will think your way than present china must have the same problem because of man-in-office limits

  42. sids Says:

    Real Name- I think you misunderstood me, What im talking about is the inconsistancy of the policy between usually two political party that have power in the government yet with totally different view how the country should be headed. Whenever the other political party won the election from the incumbant they always take 180 degree policy shift, there is no continuality planning to it. Modern democracy ( to me is after the cold war when democracy starting to thrive)havnt been long enough for us to exam this closely with example for or against.

  43. neutrino Says:

    @Raj 4

    Ok, so why would it be unsuitable for China to aim for an independent judiciary, as free a media as anyone can expect (from State manipulation anyway), freedom of speech and multi-party elections with universal suffrage? Why do people like Zhang have to aim for something that doesn’t include all of those things?

    ______________________________________________________________________________________________

    I’m not sure if Zhang is advocating for something other than “an independent judiciary, free media …”. Frankly, I believe that China is actually now ready for it. But I suspect many chinese people are quite complacent with the existing situation. Hey, don’t fix something if it ain’t broken (to a certain degree, of course). I also think Chinese people as a whole now has reverted to its historical self, which can be summarized with ultra pragmatism with a total lack interest in ideology. Indian media used to say that china has build impressive infrastructure, but chinese people have no soul, meaning beliefs. Yet the truth is that, chinese people are not interested in the “soul”, the “creator”, or after life, for that matter. The fervor in the first three decades of the people’s republic, simply is an anomaly of the chinese history, and serves a perfect example how bad an ideology-driven society can become.

    I think most of us would agree that the staples of democracy, such as independent judiciary system, free media would be great for china’s future development. The question is how fast, and how to get there. As for elections, I’m not a fan of it, but am an advocate of a modernized civil-examination system, which can be designed by votes/referendum of the people.

    As for whether china has certain elements of democracy already, and to what degree. Let’s dont’ forget that everything is relative. Thirty years ago, you won’t find a single chinese media outlet carrying out investigative report on corrupt officials, and nowadays, reports are everywhere. How things have changed.

  44. real name Says:

    42.
    i understand you, just i do not see it like “180 degree policy shift” but any y=x+sin(x) where this sin represents negative feedback necessary to keep the most systems stable (freely used industrial automation language)

  45. Roadblock Says:

    Eight Ideas Behind China’s Success
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/01/opinion/01iht-edzhang.html?hpw

  46. Raj Says:

    @ yo (30)

    Seeing how things work in the U.S.(or anywhere else for that matter), that’ s not saying a lot

    I think that it is. It’s cool to be jaded and say that our democracies are so corrupt, we’re so in the pockets of the multi-nationals, why do we even bother to vote? But really there is a big difference between China and democratic countries.

    @ Steve (34)

    Thanks for leaving some feedback. I think the 80,000 came from the Chinese government/officials some years ago, but doesn’t really seem to have been tweaked as if they decided it was too damaging to give more information as time went on.

    @ sids (38/39)

    I meant one party rule for federal (like CCP) and multi party election for state.

    But what’s the point of that at the national level? If you just have one party able to participate then the party will ensure that whoever is nominated is exactly the same as the other, or just nominate one “strong” candidate and one token person who has no chance for whatever reason. You need multi-party politics at every level to ensure that there is real choice.

    @ neutrino (43)

    The thing is, as SKC said (40) he doesn’t really say what democracy would be. If he said “I’m in favour of an independent judiciary, a free media, etc just not multi-party elections” I could at least acknowledge that. If he is in favour of all those things, why doesn’t he say so? His whole idea of needing to re-design democracy seems to me a way of keeping the CCP in power and making only cosmetic changes to the system. As he says, he wants to keep the peasants out.

    Trying to have the people decide on an entrance exam? That’s waaaay too complex for them to understand and far too boring – hardly anyone would participate. You need a system that they can relate to and are willing to take part in.

    Everything is not relative. Yes, there is more scrutiny of corruption, but the CCP still ensures that newspapers only report when they want them to. If they break those rules they can be fined or even shut down. Censorship/self-censorship is arguably worse than when Jiang was President.

  47. Wahaha Says:

    We are not interested in beautiful theory, we are interested in something that works in real word.

    Western democracy is a beautiful that only works on Mars, like communism.
    __________________

    http://tinyurl.com/ybzqxdb

    India’s police violence knows no bounds

    There are no independent agencies that can investigate a complaint against law enforcement agencies, even if a person wished to file a complaint.
    __________________

    http://tinyurl.com/yaztvad

    The Politics of Police Violence in Democratic Brazil
    __________________

    http://www.hrw.org/en/node/79243

    Freedom of Expression and Media Freedom

  48. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha:
    so does this mean you agree with Zhang, that China is not yet ready for “democracy” but someday will be in some form?

    Or does this mean you disagree with Zhang, and that China is in fact good to go right now and should forge ahead? (admittedly not likely, but sometimes with you one needs to cover all the permutations)

    Or is it (c) (Zhang’s a dolt and democracy in China ain’t never gonna happen, no way, no how, not in a million years)?

  49. Wahaha Says:

    SKC,

    I said before, there are three layers of distribuiton of social wealth : state government (like congress in USA), local government (local projects like infrastructure etc) and people. The right under western democracy gives people the right of deciding how to distribute the money in the third layers, not on the levels of state governemnt and local goverment.

    Let me give an example : suppose you married the daughter of an oil tycoon, and you are in congress, will you not vote for the policy in favor of oil company ? Answer : you will, otherwise your father in law will kick you out of his mansion.

    Then ask yourself, how many politicians in middle to top levels are NOT related to the rich one way or another in a democratic country ? plus every politician under democracy still cares himself and his family more than the people who voted him into office.

    ******************************************************************
    Western democracy is designed to prevent government abusing the power, but when the few rich and syndicate control the economy, What function with the system can limit the power of the rich ? NONE, not only that, with the election system, it gives the rich a legal way to make sure that the politicians will take care of them.

    *******************************************************************
    Now, in a country that has lot of poor people, how and who can help those poor people ? the ONLY effective way is enough job opportunities, but it is government’s job to create such opportunities, in other word, ONLY GOVERNMENT CAN HELP POOR PEOPLE.

    Well, government doesnt have enough power to do what is necessary for the people under western democracy (in China, government has power, and government officers use this power to help people but also get money for themselves).

    This likes you have a naught kid who needs help, but you dont give the teacher any power to do what is necessary.

    Hence, western democracy gives people a government that wont be able to help the people who really need help.

    ******************************************************************************

    So you see, Western democracy in reality is in favor of the rich, and deprives the power government needs to help people. People simply have no way DIRECTLY deciding the fair way of dsitributing wealth.

    Hence the key for democracy is not about “Let people decide”, BECAUSE IT IS IMPOSSIBLE, it is about how to prevent governemnt abusing the power. I hope China will improve in this aspect, if not, well, the collapse of CCP when economy goes south ?

  50. Raj Says:

    Wahaha (47)

    I have fixed your links, which were broken. I suggest in future you use http://tinyurl.com/ to produce small links that will always work. I have also found a link to the article about Thailand.

    However, can I remind you to also make an actual point relevant to the thread when posting articles and keep extracts brief, only recopying specific extracts linked to the point you are making. You did not make a clear point linked to the articles, but instead of collapsing the comment this time I have cut the text down.

    As for your articles/comments, those about Thailand don’t help your criticism about “western” democracy because the situation there is becoming less democratic by the day. When Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted from power in 2006 what the country had wasn’t a democracy, it was a military junta. Things became freer over time but again they suffered a blow when a coalition of anti-democrats/pro-authoritarian helped force out a pro-Thaksin government.

    Thailand’s political/social problems stem from authoritarian elites/wealthier people who want to use the monarchy’s status to silence dissent and keep the poor down. Why do you think they have tried so hard to force out those parties who won successive elections? Because Thaksin upset the apple cart, spending more money on the poor, which the wealthy didn’t like because, shock-horror, they had to help people less fortunate than themselves!

    Thailand needs more “western” democracy, not less. A similiar point can be made about Brazil. If some politicians are trying to change/block changes to the law to protect authoritarianism, they can only be stopped by greater press freedom, greater voting rights, better rule of law, better judicial independence, regular and open elections, etc.

    India. Erm, so if they didn’t have democracy everything would be ok? I don’t think so. Dragging up something bad that happens in a developing, democratic country doesn’t prove that democracy, even the “western” brand, is bad/wrong.

    ++++

    49

    how and who can help those poor people ? the ONLY effective way is enough job opportunities

    Not so. It is far more important to deal with the roots of inequality/lack of opportunity – poor health and lack of decent education. If people are only paid enough to get by on, their children will never progress past their parents. If more money is spent on those children’s schools, fees reduced or axed, better health cover given, etc then those children and their children will have more opportunities.

    Government can help stimulate the economy/help it to grow, but its role isn’t to create jobs (if it does on a large scale it becomes a burden to the taxpayer and can drag the country down in the long term). Government should focus on providing public services. And that is why elites normally want to block democracy. Democracy means the poor having the ability to vote in politicians who are more likely to help them, which often means the rich being forced to pay their taxes/pay more in tax.

    The rich can benefit in democratic countries because governments give them opportunities to make money, but the poor can win as well. In autocracies normally the only people who win are the rich/elites.

  51. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha #49:
    “Let me give an example : suppose you married the daughter of an oil tycoon, and you are in congress, will you not vote for the policy in favor of oil company ? Answer : you will, otherwise your father in law will kick you out of his mansion.” — that’s a funny one.
    a. is there an actual example of such a congressman, or are we strictly dealing with hypotheticals?
    b. hypothetical or otherwise, i would love to see a congressman living under his father-in-law’s roof. I would get a good kick out of that. It would give hen-pecked an entirely new flavour.
    c. to you, it seems very few are capable of doing the right thing. That’s a rather depressing view of the world, but it’s all yours, baby.

    As for the rest of #49, it’s really no different from what you’re always saying. The “rich” run the democracy, while the poor get screwed, or so it goes in your version of reality. Might i ask how the poor are making out in China?

    “People simply have no way DIRECTLY deciding the fair way of dsitributing wealth.” — and how many ways are available to people to impact such decisions in China? As I’ve said before, merely paraphrasing others, the divide between rich and poor in CHina is as vast as in any other country. If that’s the case, then governance hasn’t got much to do with it. If you want to share with us why democracy won’t work in China, distribution of wealth is not going to fly as a valid reason.

    All of the above notwithstanding, you’re still essentially only addressing why democracy won’t work today. Zhang is speaking about a couple of tomorrows down the road. Which is why I asked earlier if you actually agree with Zhang, or not, or would choose (c). And that’s gone unanswered.

  52. Wahaha Says:

    Not so. It is far more important to deal with the roots of inequality/lack of opportunity – poor health and lack of decent education. If people are only paid enough to get by on, their children will never progress past their parents. If more money is spent on those children’s schools, fees reduced or axed, better health cover given, etc then those children and their children will have more opportunities.
    ________________________________________________________

    Yes, IF more money is spent on those children …

    But where does a government under democracy get the money ? well, the rich controls the economy, so the govenrment has to beg the rich, and in the name of freedom, no people, including the rich, can be forced to do what they dont want to do. So, to get money, the government must give the rich huge incentives.

    Like some roads in India are built by private, and all the toll fees will be given to them for as long as next 60 years.

  53. Wahaha Says:

    All of the above notwithstanding, you’re still essentially only addressing why democracy won’t work today. Zhang is speaking about a couple of tomorrows down the road. Which is why I asked earlier if you actually agree with Zhang, or not, or would choose (c). And that’s gone unanswered.
    ______________________________________________________________

    In large scale, democracy never work well economically, simple as that. From hongkong’s infrastructure to the health plan in USA. or even the infrastructure in USA, as CNN reported, USA needed 1.4 trillion dollars to repair and expand its infrastructure. Were those ELECTED policians so stupid that they havent figured that out until recently ?

    Western democracy is designed to prevent government’s abusing power, it is not designed to solve the problems. and The more poor people in a country, the more problems there exist, the more reforms are needed.

    and there was no reform in human history that made everyone happy, ESPECIALLY THOSE GREEDY. Hence, It is very hard for a government to push through a reform, even in a rich country with well educated people.

  54. Wahaha Says:

    a. is there an actual example of such a congressman, or are we strictly dealing with hypotheticals?
    b. hypothetical or otherwise, i would love to see a congressman living under his father-in-law’s roof. I would get a good kick out of that. It would give hen-pecked an entirely new flavour.
    c. to you, it seems very few are capable of doing the right thing. That’s a rather depressing view of the world, but it’s all yours, baby.

    _____________________________________

    Do you know that the lot of soccer balls used in Europe were made by child labor in India ? do you know that child labors in Mexico put foods on the tables in America ?

    John McCain married a rich woman. The former vice president was a former CEO of an Oil company.

    To my knowledge, almost all of TOP policians in Britain were from rich families.

    Dont call me baby, you are brainwashed as badly as a North korean kid. and you live in a rich country in which a government can build a 100 mile road without moving a family, you live in a rich country that has enough nature resource that make people live better than 80+% the people in the world, you live in a country that faces no threat from outside world. Enjoy your life, dont mess with others, especially those who just want a decent job, who just want a decent home, who just want to be able to afford his children’s good education.

  55. hzzz Says:

    “The “rich” run the democracy, while the poor get screwed, or so it goes in your version of reality. Might i ask how the poor are making out in China?”

    The World Bank announced this April that between 1981 and 2004 some HALF BILLION Chinese were lifted out of poverty. http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/EASTASIAPACIFICEXT/CHINAEXTN/0,,contentMDK:22131856~pagePK:141137~piPK:141127~theSitePK:318950,00.html

    China has done more to lift up the poorest of poor than rest of the world combined in the last three decades. For poverty reduction rates in other places you can use this chart (http://global-ejournal.org/2009/03/09/globalization-poverty-reduction-and-economic-rights/)

    I don’t know about rest of the advanced nations, but you can find US poverty rates here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Poverty_59_to_05.png). Between 1981 and 2004 it looks like there are 7 more million Americans living under poverty.

    It helps to do a little research first before commenting.

  56. Wahaha Says:

    “The “rich” run the democracy, while the poor get screwed, or so it goes in your version of reality. Might i ask how the poor are making out in China?”

    _________________________________________________

    I missed that. so let me add more answer to that :

    Did you see some picture of last year’s earthquake in China ? The area was among the poorest in China, but the roads were as good as that in yellowstone park (…. and the sad part is that govenment’s building was as good as white house.)

    also, where did the 568 billion dollars of stimulus plan come from ? in a country under democracy, most of those money would be in the pockets of few rich.

    It is like a company that is owned by people in China and owned some shareholders under western democracy. If the company is owned by shareholders, most profits will go to the pockets of shareholders, and top executives get fat payment, HENCE less corruption, cuz simply they dont have to. But in China, the company belongs to people, government is just managing the company on behalf of people, hence no matter how corruptive they are, the money they get is still significantly less that if the company is owned by a few shareholders.

  57. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha:
    “Yes, IF more money is spent on those children …”—- ok, so the goalposts are in transit. No longer is it wealth distribution, but child welfare that is paramount? That’s ok by me.

    Yes, better health and better education are indeed important. Those might be some additional features of modernization that Mr. Zhang failed to discuss.

    “But where does a government under democracy get the money ?” — taxes.

    “well, the rich controls the economy, so the govenrment has to beg the rich, and in the name of freedom, no people, including the rich, can be forced to do what they dont want to do. So, to get money, the government must give the rich huge incentives.” — once again, you’ve re-engaged the same old tune. Play that song again, Uncle Sam! Begging the rich? Good grief, do you ever read what you write?

    “Like some roads in India are built by private, and all the toll fees will be given to them for as long as next 60 years.” —once again, that’s capitalism, not governance. You often seem to confuse the two.

    “In large scale, democracy never work well economically, simple as that.” — well, not so fast. Folks like you like to make these broad statements, with, shall we say, shaky foundations if there is any at all. What is “large scale”? What is “working well economically”?

    “there was no reform in human history that made everyone happy, ESPECIALLY THOSE GREEDY. Hence, It is very hard for a government to push through a reform, even in a rich country with well educated people.” — If the first statement is true, then it would be hard for any government to enact reform. So once again, the form of government is in fact not in play. If you’re saying that an autocratic government is better suited to push through reform, then by definition it is not the type of reform that everyone is happy with, or would even want, given your first statement. Then the choice becomes: do you want a form government that pushes through reform that’s not necessarily popular, or do you want a form of government that enacts reforms that reflect most people’s wishes (acknowledging of course that there is no form of government that can possibly please everybody). Again, China may be in greater need of reform in many areas, so her form of government may work for now; but someday, hopefully she will transition into the latter category, at which point the current form of government may become unnecessary and unwanted. My question has always been, to the phalanx of naysayers, what that form of government would look like, when the time comes. It’s a question either the naysayers can’t read, or can’t answer. And even Mr. Zhang didn’t do much better.

    “Do you know that the lot of soccer balls used in Europe were made by child labor in India ? do you know that child labors in Mexico put foods on the tables in America ?” — seriously, what does this statement have to do with the price of tea in China?

    Your McCain/Cheney/”top politicians in UK” example actually doesn’t answer my questions a-c in #51, which were themselves directly derived from your statement in #49. Why does it seem so hard to get you guys to answer direct questions? Don’t worry, you’re not alone with this affliction. So Cindy McCain is loaded; has Johnny put himself in conflict at some point to use his position to further her wealth, at the expense of his constituents? Does Dick’s old job mean that either he or Halliburton unfairly lined their pockets while he was VP? All this innuendo…what else you got?

    Your last paragraph of #54 is a rant that typifies folks of your ilk. I admit that, when it comes to you, I don’t mince words. But I wouldn’t call you or anyone on your side of the fence “brainwashed”. To resort to that sort of thing is prepubescent. If that’s how you wanna roll…well, you go do what you gotta do. But in the meantime, please note that I can call you whatever I want (within confines of the rules of this blog, of course).

    As for #56, you’ve provided 3 paragraphs of god-knows-what, and still haven’t begun to answer the question you were purportedly trying to answer. Does your wind up always take this long? Will you write another post with the actual delivery? And could you please employ a shorter follow-through? I know you have a thing for “examples”, but I’m not sure what you think these arbitrary, hypothetical, made-up examples actually illustrate.

  58. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To hzzz:
    “It helps to do a little research first before commenting.” — fair enough.

    But to me, this (“Might i ask how the poor are making out in China?”) is a question. Now, you might say if I did the research, i wouldn’t need to ask the question. So thank you for doing the research for me. Much obliged.

    So now I have more questions. If 1/2 billion have been helped, how are the other 0.8 billion doing? More importantly, how’s the average CHinese doing, since that seems to be one possible metric for determining China’s readiness for democratization.

  59. Wahaha Says:

    “But where does a government under democracy get the money ?” — taxes.

    Google Child labor (dont even bother talking about China,if child labor had been a serious problem, those so called human right idiots woudlve jumped up to the sky.)
    _____________________________________________________________________

    “In large scale, democracy never work well economically, simple as that.” — well, not so fast. Folks like you like to make these broad statements, with, shall we say, shaky foundations if there is any at all. What is “large scale”? What is “working well economically”?

    Go check the problem in Hong kong, and I guess Americans dont know that their healthcare plan must reform.
    ________________________________________________________________________

    So Cindy McCain is loaded; has Johnny put himself in conflict at some point to use his position to further her wealth, at the expense of his constituents? Does Dick’s old job mean that either he or Halliburton unfairly lined their pockets while he was VP? All this innuendo…what else you got?

    Tell me where the heck 700 bill dollars went, tell us why that rescue plan was passed within a week without any condition. Do you really think Dick Cheney played no role in Iraq war, a war for oil ? give me a break, will you ?

    ___________________________________________________________________

    Your last paragraph of #54 is a rant that typifies folks of your ilk.

    Well, you better be careful with the word you use, and I mean what I said, you have no idea how a person feel when he has to work 6 or 7 days a week, 10 hours a day and still struggle.

    You want to know how that feeling is ? watch “Lakshmi and me”, in which the sister of Lakshmi said ” I am tired of this human existence.” or maybe you should go to India, just live next to a slum for 2 weeks, before you talk about what people should do and THINK in a developing country.

  60. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha:
    a. in part 1, is child labor supposed to be your answer to “where a democratic government gets their money”? Where’s the connection? Are we playing Jeopardy?

    b. in part 2, you’ve said basically exactly what you said in #53. You know I read your last couple of posts, since I did a point-by-point evisceration thereof. So if I asked you a question in response to #53, do you think reiterating what you’ve already said will be terribly helpful? I’ve merely asked for a couple of definitions. And you know what, there’s no shame in occasionally saying “I don’t know”. That would be an improvement upon what you’ve provided here.
    BTW, my guess is that many Americans know they need health care reform; what they don’t yet agree on is how to go about doing that.

    c. “Tell me where the heck 700 bill dollars went, tell us why that rescue plan was passed within a week without any condition.” — I don’t know. (see, not so hard to do). I haven’t been keeping track of where you guys have been spending your stimulus package. I actually thought your package was closer to 1 trillion. Do you know how the plan was apparently passed so quickly (and I mean actually knowing; not your usual innuendo stuff)?

    “Do you really think Dick Cheney played no role in Iraq war” — did I say that? He was, after all, VP. But do you know that he trumpeted the war out of personal greed and to line his pockets, which is what you’ve insinuated, as opposed to simply being true to his hawkish tendencies? (again, I’m talking actually knowing, not goofy examples and baseless accusations)

    d. “you better be careful with the word you use” — I say what I mean, and mean what I say. That’s as much care as I need to use, baby. Like it or lump it, no big shakes to me.

    “maybe you should go to India, just live next to a slum for 2 weeks, before you talk about what people should do and THINK in a developing country.” — have you done this? Cuz you have no hesitation offering your version of what PRC citizens should pursue (or not pursue, in the case of democracy).

    “how a person feel when he has to work 6 or 7 days a week, 10 hours a day and still struggle.” — are we now talking someone in China, or in the US?

  61. Rhan Says:

    To insist that democracy is bad akin to telling reading is bad, education is bad, science is bad and so on. To compare USA / Canada / Europe against China is ridiculous. I think the question should be asked is why democracy doesn’t work well in developing country like India, Indonesia that is with huge population after many years and what is the prerequisite in order to make it a successful one.

    But if the subject matter change, then the argument may become less interesting and enjoyable?

  62. Wukailong Says:

    Now, after a bad fever and some other hassles, I’ve finally had a chance to sit down and read Zhang’s original essay. I was a bit surprised by its brevity and the importance attached to the theories therein, but I’ll say this (perhaps this belongs to that thread, but I’ll post it here because this is more recent):

    * Taken at face value, Zhang has a much stronger argument against democracy in developing countries than he has against democracy in Western nations. If all the examples mentioned (including Botswana) are truly as problematic as he says, then I think he has scored a point against democracy in poor countries. As for all the democracies in the West, I don’t think two examples (the US and Switzerland) truly says anything, since there are many people in other democratic countries, even in said countries themselves, that deplored the practice of barring women and/or blacks from the vote.

    * Questions of whether one has been to a certain country (Zhang seems to have been to many countries twice) and what one has seen there doesn’t really say anything about how that country really is. When reading statistics about Botswana’s economy I wonder if it’s as bad as Zhang says. It would be hard for any country in that region to fight off HIV, for example. Botswana seems to be doing fine with the condition it has. But the main point is that contention of this kind must be solved by facts of some form – mostly statistics.

    * If you say that India is such a failure with democracy, and try to prove that democracy as such is the problem, then what to say about the situations in Burma or North Korea, or Indonesia under Suharto? There are as many failed dictatorships there as there are failed democracies.

    * India and China… Isn’t it quite obvious that what got any of these countries going was better economic policies rather than democracy or authoritarianism? All the “proof” of the greatness of China’s system today lies in the economy; India will use the same credentials as it moves further out of poverty (which I’m sure it will).

    * Finally, when Zhang and the European scholar agree that “democracy is a common virtue” (朴实价值) but Zhang says it’s not Western democracy, then doesn’t give any sort of definition, I can only wonder as to what he means. I’ve heard this many times but people seem reluctant to say what they think it is. It makes me think of a debate where one of the participants sarcastically said that “democracy is strawberry ice cream, because that’s what I like.” I get similar feelings when I read Zhang’s article. Certainly you could roll your own definition – I would even welcome it – but Zhang doesn’t.

  63. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To WKL:
    glad you’re feeling better. Hope you didn’t have H1N1 🙂
    Great post. Particularly enjoyed the last 2 points. Couldn’t agree more. And man do I like strawberry ice cream.

  64. dewang Says:

    Hi Wukailong,

    Thx for chiming in.

    I think there is an important point both you and S.K. Cheung missed in Zhang’s essay. He is talking about the order of development. Obviously it is capitalism that is doing wonders for China. This was his point. Do capitalism first and other things staggered behind in lock-steps in both breadth and depth.

    Regarding your final point – Zhang has faith China has a formula for her own democracy that is uniquely hers – that he believes will be different from the various developed country forms. I don’t think he claims he know what it is. Do you believe the “West” has reached nirvana in terms of democracy? If you don’t, then you must accept this idea that someone else think they can better it.

    For some clues, I recommend his Op-ed in the NYT.

    My view is that those in the “West” who have very strong feelings about this kind of stuff are not going to recognize what it is until China becomes more “modern” than their country.

  65. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Dewang:
    “If you don’t, then you must accept this idea that someone else think they can better it.” — for the time being, I’d be happy if China merely equaled it…or even attempted to equal it. Zhang most certainly doesn’t claim to know how to better it…or if he does, he did everything he could to not let the secret out, cuz he spends nearly the entire time going on about what a Chinese democracy will not look like, and doesn’t venture out on what it might look like. Which brings me back to my point all along: how are you going to get anywhere if you don’t know where you’re going, even if it’s in little incremental steps?

  66. dewang Says:

    Hi S.K. Cheung,

    We should be fair though. I don’t think the American founding fathers knew where their democracy would take them. They knew a heck a lot what they didn’t wanted.

    Like I said, Zhang laid out the vision in the NYT Op-Ed. I believe he is confident on the road China has embarked on in the last 3 decades. With the vision, why do you still say they don’t know where they are going?

    Curious – what is your “end-game” on democracy anyways?

  67. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Dewang:
    “I don’t think the American founding fathers knew where their democracy would take them.” — they weren’t clairvoyant, but they laid out the roadmap, and identified some inalienable checkpoints. They did more than just say they didn’t want a British monarchy. It wasn’t like a 10 commandments list of “thou shalt not’s”.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “end-game”. My hope is that one day, PRC citizens get a tangible voice in how their country is run, that their media is not a state organ, that the country’s leadership is contested, that they enact and enforce laws, and that corruption is vigorously curbed. I don’t see too much of that happening under the CCP’s watch.

  68. dewang Says:

    Hi S.K. Cheung,

    I guess we see it differently. I see it as they had a vision and tried their best to fulfill it. It then took the country a very long time to get to where it is today. I don’t think China is going to take as long, and certainly not repeat the egregious mistakes made along the way.

    Regarding “end-game”, I think you understood what I was asking based on your answer. But why not set the bar higher? How about:

    1. Do not invade other countries.
    2. Uphold international law and support a fair world.
    3. Extremely informed public about domestic and foreign affairs.
    4. Do not consume this planets resources at the detriment of future generations.
    5. Eradicate hunger.
    6. Raise the educational level for all to the highest standard possible.
    7. Do not over-spend to ridiculous level of debt.

    Regarding media, I don’t think you can say China’s media is a state organ. China has tons of media sources today. I don’t agree with this idea that China’s leadership selection is not contested. The selection process in “democratic” countries have their own problems. I generally agree enacting and enforcing laws is very important for a civil society. I agree corruption needs to be beat down.

    “I don’t see too much of that happening under the CCP’s watch.” – for the last 3 decades, I’d say tons happened.

  69. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Dewang:
    “I don’t think China is going to take as long” — let’s hope you’re right. But I prefer your sentiment to others who say that “it took the US 200 years so China’s got time”. I would hope that something that started in 1979 (or 1949, whatever your fancy) won’t take as long as something that started in 1776.

    I have no quarrel with your additional goals. But to me, they extend beyond democracy to the level of humanitarianism, with the exception of #3 and maybe #6. Perhaps those would be goals for an “international democracy”, but on a national scale, those seem beyond its grasp. I suppose that’s what a heaven is for. As for #3, I wonder how a democracy would mandate that its public be informed. Not sure how to respond to #6 in the context of democracy. In the US, it seems the top-flight talent is doing just fine; the lowest common denominators, maybe not so well.

    “China has tons of media sources today.” — perhaps I should say that China has one state organ outlet, and many others than can operate at the pleasure of the state (and of course I don’t just mean licensing/regulatory pleasure). But Jerry’s quote from that excerpt in the other Media thread, at least to me, shows that China’s media is not nearly free enough.

    “I don’t agree with this idea that China’s leadership selection is not contested.” — it’s contested inasmuch as a country club chairmanship is contested. Clearly not what I had in mind as far as democracy goes.

    “The selection process in “democratic” countries have their own problems.” — is this the requisite “context”?

    “for the last 3 decades, I’d say tons happened.” — with the economy, for sure. With governance, maybe some baby steps at the village level that you and others have alluded to. Again, not what I had in mind.

  70. Wukailong Says:

    @Dewang: If Zhang’s point is really that it is capitalism that is making wonders, I’ll be happy to agree. I was trying to make the same point as well with both India and China. Maybe I should rephrase it to say that finding a suitable economic model for one’s development is the most important thing. What works, works.

    “Do you believe the “West” has reached nirvana in terms of democracy? If you don’t, then you must accept this idea that someone else think they can better it.”

    Well, to quote myself: “Certainly you could roll your own definition – I would even welcome it – but Zhang doesn’t.” I’m curious myself about better versions of democracy. I welcome it and hope to see some development. However, to talk about a concept without defining it and talking big is a no-no for me. I’d be happier if someone said “we’re not going to have democracy at all, but something better in the future.” That would be more honest.

    Democracy isn’t something exclusive for the West. If I thought they had reached nirvana in democracy, I wouldn’t be interested in the concept.

  71. dewang Says:

    Hi S.K. Cheung, Wukailong,

    It’s been an interesting discussion thus far. Not sure what else I’d add.

  72. Wukailong Says:

    Hi Dewang,

    one thing: I agree with you that there has been a lot of reform in China during the last 30 years that is politically related. To me it seems this has been in the two areas of relaxation of ideology (emancipating the mind) and a very impressive construction of a legal and economic framework different from the system that used to be. I’m really excited to see how this legal framework will help development in future.

  73. wk Says:

    No more topics about Chinese democracy, this is getting annoying.

  74. dewang Says:

    Hi Wukailong,

    My college professor spent a great deal of time consulting for the Chinese government in formulating China’s patent laws. He was a very influential patent lawyer/judge in the U.S.. He also told me he saw tremendous transformation in the Chinese legal system.

    So, anecdotally, this was the observation of an industry veteran who is highly respected in the U.S.. Wukailong is able to see the same, so that says something for me about Wukailong. 🙂

  75. Bobby Says:

    want some chinese democracy? YOU GOT SOME CHINESE DEMOCRACY!

    中國重型搖滾音樂顛覆了反華虚伪白痴思想! 軍械所 索瑪TNT 邏輯失控 中國新金屬搖滾硬核重金屬!!!
    EAT THIS YOU DEMOCRACY ESPOUSING FASCISTS ~^^~
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ax5ix5VzSE0

  76. Bobby Says:

    btw: \ m / ~.~ \ m /

    also. i thought the Bird’s Nest looked like a mangled pile of scrap metal at first, but the more I look at it now, the more i appreciate the intricate engineering art work and the symbolic convolution of China blinding progress… branded into my brain as remarkably as ZWW’s performance art-smashing of a Han Dynasty vase… wait… he smashes a Han Dynasty vase, and concocts an icon of new China the Bird’s Nest, for which he now detests. The guy is as objective as he’s confused. Impressive and yet, annoyingly so.

  77. Steve Says:

    @ Bobby #75: We have Chinese music posts on a regular basis and would be more than happy to post videos there. However, it’s way off topic here so I collapsed it. People can still watch the video by clicking on it if they so desire.

  78. Wahaha Says:

    I’ve merely asked for a couple of definitions.

    SKC,

    give me REAL WORLD examples.

  79. Wahaha Says:

    I think the question should be asked is why democracy doesn’t work well in developing country like India, Indonesia that is with huge population after many years and what is the prerequisite in order to make it a successful one.

    ________________________________________________________

    Well, that is the question only Chinese care.

  80. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha:
    “give me REAL WORLD examples.” — of what do you speak?

  81. Wahaha Says:

    of what do you speak?

    SKC,

    How things work in real world, I have no interest in doing the surgeon on definition.

  82. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “How things work in real world,” — listen, while this “guess what I’m thinking” game might be amusing for a few seconds, it loses its lustre awfully quickly. What “things” are you musing about exactly? I don’t even need a “surgical” definition…at this point, with you, a ballpark definition that approaches the confines of sanity would suffice nicely.

  83. Wahaha Says:

    Things —> solve the problems.

  84. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Am I playing 20 questions with a 3 year old?

    “Things —> solve the problems.” — what problems are we trying to solve?

  85. Jim Says:

    I just read an article by Zhang Weiwei in the Chinese Global Times entitled “Western concept of human rights too rigid ” http://opinion.globaltimes.cn/commentary/2010-10/587536.html.

    Essentially, Zhang defends China’s human rights abuses by saying:

    1. The West has a bad human rights record–the pot calling the kettle black
    2. The West engaged in imperialism with China in the past – so who are they to talk?
    3. The Nobel prize commitee is not a legal entity and therefore does not have a ‘right’ to comment on human rights.

    I could go on, but really, Weiwei is clearly a mouthpiece for the Communist Oligharcy. Not once did Weiwei weigh right from wrong. That is at the heart of human rights. Is it right to jail democracy protestors for life or execute them.

    The Chinese government then threaten’s ‘consequences against Sweden? As if the Swedish government should prevent the Nobel Peace Prize committee from awarding their prize as they see fit?

    I had a Chinese girlfriend from mainland China, and that opened my eyes to the depth of Chinese nationalism. China could do nothing wrong in her eyes, even though she had emigrated to another country. She knew nothing of her own history, and denied most of it as Western propaganda. Like when Mao, in his wisdom, decided sparrows were pests because they ate seeds, and proclaimed sparrows should be actively exterminated as pests. In the coming years, there was a plague of locusts–no longer controlled by the sparrow population and millions died.

    I mentioned this to a Chinese friend, and he replied that no one was perfect. Mao was 75% good and 25% bad. I asked him what percentage good was Hitler. ‘ )

    I mention this so readers will realize that Chinese people make NO SEPARATION between their country and their government. If you criticize one, you criticize the other. The moral landscape in China is relatively barren. Corruption is still the only way to do business. For example, you must BUY a government job.

    I have spoken to many Chinese people who have come here, and they all exhibit a moral schizophrenia. They welcome the lack of corruption, well paying jobs, labor laws, fairness, and rule of law in their adopted countries, but still, they are unwilling to criticize their former nation’s government.

    I see this blind nationalism and moral bankruptcy in all of Zhang Weiwei’s writings. He never once addresses the essential point–that despite the differnces in language and culture, injustice and oppression is wrong, whether in China or elsewhere.

  86. Jason Says:

    @Jim

    Western version of human rights is calling for rights for people who taken huge amounts of $$$ from US own quasi-government organization is beyond hypocritical to their own laws.

    I would dare Norwegian officials awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Iraq War logs whistleblower, Bradley Manning who is in prison because he leaked information that criticize the US regime on torture. Now that would just dispel the accusation that Nobel Peace Prize is a western tool.

  87. Wahaha Says:

    I see this blind nationalism and moral bankruptcy in all of Zhang Weiwei’s writings. He never once addresses the essential point–that despite the differnces in language and culture, injustice and oppression is wrong, whether in China or elsewhere.

    *****************************************************

    Jim,

    What is the injustice you are talking about ?

    Urban migration drives surge in world’s slum dwellers
    http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/11/18/urban.slums/index.html?hpt=Sbin

    Do you have any way to help them ?

    ********************************************8

    the following was written by NYT 23 years ago :

    SHANGHAI JOURNAL; ERASING THE SLUMS? THE 64-SQUARE-FOOT QUESTION

    http://www.nytimes.com/1987/01/05/world/shanghai-journal-erasing-the-slums-the-64-square-foot-question.html

  88. Wahaha Says:

    BTW, SKC, I didnt post on Nov 16th, so that is not THE Wahaha.

  89. Wahaha Says:

    Oh, SKC,

    What do the rich (and their unions) want from a government ? a powerless government.

    What do the media and journalists want from a government ? a bunchbag, so they can show off their superiority.

    What do the parasites want from a government ? a little girl that they can rape any time they want.

    What do people want from a government ? an agency that can solve their problems.

    YOU KNOW WHY MEDIA AND JOURNALISTS ARE ALWAYS RIGHT ? BECAUSE THEY NEVER HAVE TO DO ANYTHING, ALL THEY HAVE TO DO IS POINTING FINGER AND BIGMOUTHING

    WHEN YOU HAVE TROUBLES, WHO CAN HELP YOU ? THE GOVERNMENT.

  90. Wahaha Says:

    “Things —> solve the problems.” — what problems are we trying to solve?

    *****************************
    #87,,

    and dont bother to answer #89, it is actually not for you.

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