Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Western Political Decay Makes China’s Path Stand Out
By Zhang Shuhua
2017/2/1 11:48:07

The international community went through the restless year of 2016 in surprise and panic with populism, exclusivism and utilitarianism spreading rampantly. Unlike China and Russia, which emphasize authority of the government, the weakening and even the decline of political clout of Western countries have been apparent.

This sparked a new round of discussion and reflection on democracy and political development. In fact, since the end of World War II, democracy has been the focus of debates in international politics, as well as a weapon and tool of Western countries against other nations.

The disintegration of the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries 25 years ago was partly due to the influence of ideas such as "democracy, freedom and human rights" from the West. However, the Western countries now are mired in "populism and contentious politics" themselves.

The Western political status quo and the complicated and changing world order made China's unique political path stand out.

After the Cold War ended more than 20 years ago, China did not follow the same old disastrous road of the Soviet Union, but, instead, realized economic development and national rejuvenation under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, and maintained the momentum of reform, development and stability.

After the global financial crisis, while the Western economic systems and social governance models ran into trouble, China's was outstanding in dealing with the challenges of the economic recession.

The cornerstone of China's miracle lies in the mutual promotion of political and economic systems. Unlike the polarized mindsets of "democracy/autocracy" and "West/non-West" that some scholars in Western countries continue to be confined to, China's comprehensive and pragmatic political development provides an alternative to the current trend in the international community.

Nowadays, the concept of "democracy", monopolized by the West, has been abused in international political ideologies and practices. Over the years, the US-led Western coalition has never relented in dividing and disintegrating China under the name of "democratization." They make prescriptions of "freedom, democracy and human rights" every now and then by the Western standards, and hope China will follow it accordingly.

Facing the risks and challenges both at home and abroad, particularly Tibet, Xinjiang, Taiwan and Hong Kong separatists and democratic activists, we must maintain our political composure, and stick to a comprehensive outlook of political development in discourse and theory construction.

The characteristics and advantages of the modern Chinese political development consist of stability, developmental nature, consistency, coordination and inclusiveness.

Stability is embodied in stable political order, orderly political participation, simultaneous implementation of the rule of law and democracy, and effective national governance capabilities.

To advocate "inclusiveness" means we do not object to democracy in a general sense. Instead, the progress of democracy is driven by the concept of comprehensive political development. We resolve social problems and provide political guarantee for the economy through political development.

Compared with the single concept of democracy, political development has a richer and broader connotation. Democracy is an important concept in political development. However, in contemporary China, development of democracy must be pushed forward within the framework of comprehensive political development.

Political development consists of three groups of interdependent and interactive variables and values: democracy (including justice, rights and freedom), rule of law (including stability, rules, and orders), and efficiency (including performance, responsibilities and transparent governance). The ideal political development requires a balance and coordination of all the values.

Unlike some countries which push forward democratization lopsidedly, the process of China's political reform and development takes on a unique comprehensive coordination, progressive developmental nature, and conforms to local conditions.

Comprehensive coordination not only requires an organic unification of values of political development, such as democracy, order and efficiency, but also requires political development to be conducive to economic development and social progress. The progressive developmental nature emphasizes that political development is a vigorous and multifaceted process. It is also stressed that we should take our own path in political reform and democratization based on the circumstances of our country.

In practice, we should improve the overall leadership of the Communist Party of China and the national governance capabilities based on comprehensive political development, in order to fully improve our political development capabilities and international political competitiveness.

The author is director of the Institute of Information Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. 

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