April 26, 2005

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Meanwhile, out of China...

- Syria opens to multi-party elections. Is the end of Baath near? Coming Anarchy think so. I agree. Add Syrian troops withdrawal from Lebanon... Assad is feeling pressure of emerging democracies around him. Good.

So, do you remember the crowds saying that no, Arab world wasn't ready for democracy, Arabs history was different, they were different...?
It's the same a lot of people are saying of China: a democratic system would be a disaster, a chaos, nationalism would surge... and so on.
Excuses. There will always be an excuse (nothing against you, Kelvin) for those who don't want democracy, liberalization, hope in a single word.
But if Afghans, Iraqis, Lebanese, next step perhaps Syrians can vote, why not Chinese?
If I were Chinese I would feel very offended...

posted by Enzo on 04.26.05 at 09:49 PM in the


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Failed Bush Foreign Policy Watch: Syria Announces Multi-Party Elections
Excerpt: UNILATERALISM A FAILURE. CREATING MORE TERRORISTS. BUSH=HITLER. yada yada yada...... The whole article is fascinating and gives a brief history of Baathism in Syria and how that country, like Hussein's Baathist Iraq, modelled their political system aft...
Weblog: The Jawa Report
Tracked: April 26, 2005 11:29 PM


Democracy is a type of government that works best for a nation that is already fairly developed, ie in terms of technology, infrastructure, social institutions, literacy rates, etc. Just as individuals go through different stages in life: infant, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, etc. I believe nations go through different stages of development as well. During 1950-80s, South Korea was not a democracy, it was a dictatorship. But if it weren't for the strong leadership of iron-willed men like Park Chung Hee, South Korea would not be the developed, industrial nation it is today. China is the same. China faces tremendous pressures that few other nation have ever faced.You need some variety of authoritarianism to enforce the discipline necessary to effect development, modernization, and lift people from poverty.

Even Western nations have had traits in their developmental past which were distinctly un-democratic: child labor (ever read Charles Dickins?), robber barons, slavery, etc.

Furthermore, democracy has to arrive when the people, whether they are Arab or Chinese, feel that they are ready for such a thing, not because already-developed Western nations force it upon them at gunpoint, out of self-interest.

Some countries do not want a democracy. They do not want to industrialize or modernize. Should we force democracy upon those people just because we want their oil or because our multinational corporations want to sell more widgets? That is like self-righteous Christians, with their rigid, absolutist worldview, saying that Buddhists or Muslims are heathens, and imposing Christianity upon everybody, whether they like it or not.

posted by: bluejives on 04.26.05 at 10:51 PM [permalink]

It would be fair to allow chinese people to decide what they want. Don't you think?


posted by: Enzo on 04.26.05 at 10:59 PM [permalink]

OK, fair enough. What DO they want? Provide evidence.

posted by: bluejives on 04.26.05 at 11:08 PM [permalink]

Let them vote, speak, think, express themselves freely and we'll immediately know.

Unless you think that freedom and rights are universal human aspirations except for chinese people...


posted by: Enzo on 04.26.05 at 11:16 PM [permalink]

I believe that China will eventually evolve to a point were such things will be a reality. But for now, I believe most Chinese are concerned about economic development and lifting themselves out of poverty. You can't really afford to think about "luxuries" like freedom of speech when your stomach is hungry. It seems well-fed Westerners with comfortable living standards have a hard time truly understanding the entire Chinese perspective even while they presume to know "what the Chinese want", even better than the Chinese themselves. Give it another 10-20 years, I'd say, and in the meantime, learn to read between the lines when exposed to anti-China, Western media propaganda.

posted by: bluejives on 04.26.05 at 11:27 PM [permalink]

So, advocating for democracy and human rights in China means being "anti-China". Curious perspective...

I don't want to repeat myself. My thoughts are in the post above.


posted by: Enzo on 04.26.05 at 11:56 PM [permalink]

Oh ho ho!

"Unless you think that freedom and rights are universal human aspirations except for chinese people..."

I don't think freedom and rights are universal aspirations at all, but social constructs that reflect the mores of the society that created them.

p.s. As for what Chinese want, I don't know about the rest of them, but I want more money.

posted by: Jing on 04.27.05 at 12:15 AM [permalink]

So, advocating for democracy and human rights in China means being "anti-China". Curious perspective...

In a way, yes.

What is the hidden motive behind all the pretense of the democracy and HR agenda?

Because the West really cares that much about ordinary Chinese people? Maybe a few special groups.

The West actually feels threatened by China's rise, both economically and geopolitically. Almost every Western nation has felt the China effect, ie flood of low-cost goods. The average common Westerner has a rather poor understanding of China to begin with but they "feel" the effects. Much of the Bush Administration's foreign policy revolves around "containing China". "Democracy" and "freedom" are just public relations political euphemisms to put a righteous wrapper on what is decidedly a foreign policy driven by cold hard calculations. Since the US is still the reigning superpower, much of the West rallies behind Bush's China policy, with the possible exceptions of France, Germany, and Russia.

The Western media is typically filled with a distinctly persceptable anti-China bias while providing precious little in the way of context. Ironically, this constant anti-China buzz may actually hurt the cause of free expression in China rather than help it because the leadership will become more inclined to enforce censorship.

posted by: bluejives on 04.27.05 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

No offense taken. That's Hu Jintao's excuse, not mine. :)

posted by: Kelvin on 04.27.05 at 01:01 AM [permalink]

Jing or... when marxism meets capitalism.


posted by: Enzo on 04.27.05 at 02:08 AM [permalink]

I'll remind you all that Taiwan is ethnically Chinesse, and yet it's made the transition. And the main problem with democracy at the point of a gun is national pride more than anything else. As the birthplace of the culture of "face", some might think that China is more sensitive to that; but the Arab nations are not much different.

Introducing democracy by gunpoint is not the best way to do it, but many nations have come into democracy through traumatic means, not the least of which was the French Revolution, which took from 1789 till 1848 to wind down.

China's statist and authoritarian history has left deep, indelible marks on her political culture. It's not going to be easy to reconcile it with the needs of a modernizing society, but I think it's worth it.

The easiest graduation would be to begin with financial transparency. Even the most stalwart Communist agrees that corruption can be a problem. However, by introducing, at the very least, transparent accounting, a culture can be spread that encourages people to take responsibility without having to fear severe repercussions. As that culture of transparency grows, people will come to expect it also of their politicians.

Yes, there are fundamental questions about the nature of Chinese government, where the entire edifice is run by an unelected Party with a parallel hierarchy. However, as people begin to expect openness, they will also expect accountability.

In the end, the CCP must fall from a position of permanent power. This is only natural. Whether it does so gracefully or not is a question that should concern all China-watchers.

posted by: Bruce Chang on 04.27.05 at 03:09 AM [permalink]

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