H1 CSE Theme 2 Democracy Essay Taiwan Communist Party Of China

Michael Utama (2T06)
CJC Humanities Dept. 2012
THEME 2 MACRO Qn: The suitability of democracy in a Communist China + Benefits/Harms to China
cannot work in China
 What does ‘democracy’ entail? Western-style democracy or democracy with ‘Chinese characteristics’?
 What about alternatives to democracy?
 Benefits of adopting the western-styled parliamentary democracy
 Reasons why it is not compatible for China’s political, historical, cultural conditions
Largely agrees with the statement that at this point in time, a radicalized democratic revolution in China is not
possible, given that the nation needs to focus on stabilizing economic reforms first before introducing any political
reforms. However, we must also consider the alternatives to democracy e.g. consultative rule-of-law regimes, which
can be dutifully considered in China today.
 Define characteristics of Western-style democracy: regular and fair elections, universal suffrage, protection of human
rights, majority rule.
 Overview: The pursuit of robust economic growth, Confucian culture of China, as well as political sensitivities in regions
such as Tibet, XJ and Taiwan, all nullify the feasibility of democracy in China. Even though democracy can be used as a
tool to rectify some of the challenges that the Chinese government faces, such as the pervasiveness of corruption in
Chinese political structure, such benefits are often overrated.
 Instead of a full-fledge Western-style democracy, China should consider other alternatives such as consultative rule-
of-law regime.
TS1: Western-style democracy is indeed antithetical and incongruous to the current style of governance and leadership
in China, because the nation’s pursuit of robust economic growth as a top priority in her national agenda simply does not
permit any democratic reforms to transpire in China today – at least not for now.
China is only halfway through its
industrial revolution, with over 50% of the population still living and working in the countryside. Given that the legitimacy
of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rest in significant part on its ability to deliver robust economic growth and rising
living standards rather than a popular mandate – since economic modernization is viewed as the optimal remedy to
China’s backwardness which rendered the nation inferior and second-rate in an era of rapacious technological
advancement – China believes democracy will only impede growth and reforms. This is because premature introduction
of democracy poses an imminent threat to the survival and legitimacy of the CCP, as citizens would be more inclined to
vote capitalists who champion economic reforms into the government, which may conflict with the communist ethos of
>the Party as political interests are blurred and blemished with economic agenda. The fundamental reason why China
has tended not to be democratic during economic take-off is that there is an inherent authoritarianism involved in an
industrial revolution – the need to concentrate society’s resources on a single objective – which, judging by history,
people are prepared to tolerate because their own lives are dominated by the exigencies of economic survival and the
desire to escape from poverty. A combination of fear of instability following the Tiananmen Crackdown in 1989, the
disintegration of the Soviet Union, and what are seen as the difficulties experienced by Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan
as democracies have reinforced the view of the CCP that democracy is liable to represent a distraction from the main
ambition of sustaining the country’s economic growth. Only if the circumstances are ripe and the economic
modernization of China has matured and stabilized, can perhaps the prospect of democracy be dutifully considered in
the long run.
LB: Therefore, given how democracy is more likely to embroil a nation in considerable chaos and turmoil – a risk that
China is currently not willing to take as a conducive environment is required for optimal economic progress – this
Western ideology is indeed antagonistic to China’s needs today.
TS2: Moreover, the advocacy of Confucian values by the Hu administration in developing a ‘harmonious society’ in
China today negates the possibility of Democracy to be incompatible and unsuitable for the country, because the
Confucian concept of harmony cannot deal with the conflicts that a democracy tends to give rise to which disrupts this
The election process that takes place in modern liberal democracy directly opposes Confucian promotion of a
‘harmonious society’. During election campaigns, the issues most frequently discussed are the ones that are highly
emotionally and politically charged. In contemporary U.S. elections, controversial issues like abortion, gay marriage,
military engagement in the Middle East and universal health care are at the forefront of campaigns. Chinese Confucians
consider these controversial issues to be cleavages within the fabric of social harmony. Western politicians rely on
exploiting these social cleavages to garner support from voters. In Chinese culture, it would be improprietous for a
politician to exploit these societal chasms to promote the personal goal of getting elected. Consequently the election
process as it is known in the West is entirely inappropriate for the Chinese. However, one may rebut this view by
highlighting the fact that democracy has succeeded in other Confucian societies like Taiwan, Japan and South Korea.
This seems to suggest that although there are elements of Confucianism that may hinder the democratization of China,
this does not mean that Confucianism renders democratization impossible. Nevertheless, one must also realize that
‘Democracy is incompatible and ill-suited for China’. How far do you agree?