Next: In 10 years, will China have a democratic government?

By Noah Graff

Today’s Machining World Archives February 2007 Volume 03 Issue 02

As Chinese citizens become more empowered by new wealth in their booming free market economy, some wonder if this will be a catalyst for the emergence of a democratic government in China.

In 10 years, will China have a democratic government?

By 2017, China will be a democracy to beat all democracies. The Chinese Communist Party will lead the transition after 2008, having realized in the aftermath of the Olympics that confi dent states have fully accountable leaders, an open press and a vibrant civil society. China’s democracy will begin as an overwhelmingly one-party state with only weak opposition, but over time will develop into a raucous, free-wheeling democracy like that of Taiwan. Special interest groups will abound, and lobbyists and lawyers will proliferate as the Chinese people increasingly seek to use the political system to maximize their economic gains. Even more than a democracy, China will be American capitalism on hyper-drive.

Elizabeth Economy
The Council on Foreign Relations

Predictions about China’s future have been notoriously off the mark. Scholars seem no better equipped to forecast the future than intelligence analysts. If China is democratic ten years from now, we will trace back the origins to current trends. If not, we will point to the weakness of those trends: an expanding private sector, but closely tied to the state; a growing civil society, but limits on what interests can organize; easier access to information, but censorship of the official media and the Internet; an increasingly effective legal system, but subject to political interference; experiments not by its leaders, who have passed up numerous opportunities to engage in meaningful democratization. They are hoping that more effective governance will dampen popular demands for democracy.

Professor Bruce J. Dickson
George Washington University

There will not be a democratic government in China in 10 years. As today, Chinese authorities will continue to label their government “democratic” – without implying (or accepting) the liberal democratic institutions designed to constrain leaders and promote accountable governance. However, the political, legal, and social institutions through which ordinary Chinese have been newly encouraged to voice complaints about officials and official policy actions will continue to be nurtured and grow. This is likely to strengthen, not weaken, communist party-state rule. In outward-looking coastal cities, private entrepreneurs and other newly prosperous Chinese will embed themselves comfortably in this party-state. By contrast, Chinese from the rural hinterland, who have lost the most (and will lose more yet) from economic reform, will continue to air their demands in more unruly ways – eliciting a continuous search for policy solutions in Beijing and often brutal repression in the localities.

Professor Melanie Frances Manion
University of Wisconsin-Madison

The facts:

Democracy (translated into Chinese as “minzhu,” or “people-as-masters”) is not a concept inherent in Chinese culture or political philosophy. In fact, it is in complete opposition to Confucian ideology, which stresses harmony and obedience.

Long Bow Group, Inc. www.tsquare.tv

Chinese journalists, editors and publishers are expected to make the information they disseminate conform to Chinese Communist Party (CCP) propaganda. For example, news coverage is required to be “80% positive and 20% negative.”

www.christusrex.org

The constitution of the People’s Republic of China provides for three de jure levels of government. Currently, however, there are five practical(de facto) levels of local government in mainland China: the province, prefecture, county, township, and village.

www.wikipedia.org

As Chinese citizens become more empowered by new wealth in their booming free market economy, some wonder if this will be a catalyst for the emergence of a democratic government in China.

In 10 years, will China have a democratic government?

By 2017, China will be a democracy to beat all democracies. The Chinese Communist Party will lead the transition after 2008, having realized in the aftermath of the Olympics that confident states have fully accountable leaders, an open press and a vibrant civil society. China’s democracy will begin as an overwhelmingly one-party state with only weak opposition, but over time will develop into a raucous, free-wheeling democracy like that of Taiwan. Special interest groups will abound, and lobbyists and lawyers will proliferate as the Chinese people increasingly seek to use the political system to maximize their economic gains. Even more than a democracy, China will be American capitalism on hyper-drive.

Elizabeth Economy

The Council on Foreign Relations

Predictions about China’s future have been notoriously off the mark. Scholars seem no better equipped to forecast the future than intelligence analysts. If China is democratic ten years from now, we will trace back the origins to current trends. If not, we will point to the weakness of those trends: an expanding private sector, but closely tied to the state; a growing civil society, but limits on what interests can organize; easier access to information, but censorship of the official media and the Internet; an increasingly effective legal system, but subject to political interference; experiments not by its leaders, who have passed up numerous opportunities to engage in meaningful democratization. They are hoping that more effective governance will dampen popular demands for democracy.

Professor Bruce J. Dickson

George Washington University

There will not be a democratic government in China in 10 years. As today, Chinese authorities will continue to label their government “democratic” – without implying (or accepting) the liberal democratic institutions designed to constrain leaders and promote accountable governance. However, the political, legal, and social institutions through which ordinary Chinese have been newly encouraged to voice complaints about officials and official policy actions will continue to be nurtured and grow. This is likely to strengthen, not weaken, communist party-state rule. In outward-looking coastal cities, private entrepreneurs and other newly prosperous Chinese will embed themselves comfortably in this party-state. By contrast, Chinese from the rural hinterland, who have lost the most (and will lose more yet) from economic reform, will continue to air their demands in more unruly ways – eliciting a continuous search for policy solutions in Beijing and often brutal repression in the localities.

Professor Melanie Frances Manion

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The facts

Democracy (translated into Chinese as “minzhu,” or “people-as-masters”) is not a concept inherent in Chinese culture or political philosophy. In fact, it is in complete opposition to Confucian ideology, which stresses harmony and obedience.

Long Bow Group, Inc. www.tsquare.tv

Chinese journalists, editors and publishers are expected to make the information they disseminate conform to Chinese Communist Party (CCP) propaganda. For example, news coverage is required to be “80% positive and 20% negative.”

www.christusrex.org

The constitution of the People’s Republic of China provides for three de jure levels of government. Currently, however, there are five practical (de facto) levels of local government in mainland China: the province, prefecture, county, township, and village.

www.wikipedia.org

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