The current recession has revealed a major problem in the foundation of America’s political system – democracy can be pretty inefficient. So if the right wing of the political spectrum isn’t as glamorous as it’s praised to be, is the left wing any better? China has experienced unprecedented economic growth in large part thanks to its capable politicians – does that mean that Chinese-branded communism is better than democracy? Let’s take a look:
Advantages of Chinese Communism
- Modern-day Chinese communism is very different from the tyrannical days of Mao Ze Dong and Stalin – some call it a socialist state, and others call it capitalism-in-all-but-name. Whatever you call it, the Chinese way of choosing leaders (President, VP, Prime Ministers) is very different than that of America and of hardline communism. In China, a complete set of new leaders (President, VP, Prime Ministers) is chosen every 10 years. How are they chosen?
- Chinese politicians start from the very bottom of the political ladder, working as mayors in small towns. Based upon their performance, they are given ever increasing roles, moving up to provincial leaders, major city mayors, and finally, members of Zhong Yang, the federal government in Bei Jing. The process of promotion takes decades, which is enough time for members of Zhong Yang to see which young politicians are capable of properly managing a country and which aren’t. Young politicians usually enter the government at the age of 20, and if chosen, become President, VP, or Prime Minister when they’re 50-something. The young politicians are constantly monitored – those with potential are given extremely poor areas of the country to manage – if they can properly manage that such a difficult area, they can properly manage the country. For example, the current President Hu Jin Tao was given Tibet, one of China’s poorest regions, to manage. Under his control, Tibet experienced unprecedented economic growth. Because of this impressive track record, Hu was made President in 2002. In China, politicians have an incentive to carry out their duties properly. Unlike America, politicians in China can’t just sweet-talk their way to the Presidential Office (e.g. Obama). China’s top-dog politicians are chosen by merit.
- China’s system of government can be very efficient. China doesn’t have to go through votes among hundreds of Senators – when the central government want’s to get something done, it get’s done.
- China’s government can often make the hard decisions, but also takes into account the voices of the people. Many Americans have the mistaken idea that the Chinese government does whatever it wants to the people – not true! The Chinese government is terrified of political instability, as a result, its policies are fairly reasonable and for the good of the country. In addition, the Chinese government can make the hard decisions, something that America, through it’s current debt crisis, has demonstrated it can’t. For example, the Tian An Men “massacre” in 1989 is now seen be many Chinese as a necessary evil. Here’s what really happened. At the time, a group of politicians in Bei Jing wanted to get rid of then-President Deng Xiao Ping (for their own political purposes). Using the excuse of democracy, the politicians encouraged university students to overthrow and protest against the government. The worst thing that can happen in China is political instability – in a civil war, hundreds of millions of Chinese would die. At first, the government tried bargaining with the students, encouraging them to go home. Yet, the protesters continued, and they managed to shut down many of China’s important functions such as railroads and transportation routes, which hugely annoyed the working classes. Then, the Chinese government sent out several warnings to the protestors, who didn’t listen. Finally, with no other choice, the Chinese government sent in the army and killed a few thousand people, which, in all honesty, is nothing compared to the hundreds of millions that could die in a Chinese civil war.
Disadvantages of China’s Political System
- I mentioned that China’s top politician are all capable leaders because they’ve been through decades of screening. However, what will happen if a politician successfully passes through the screening, hides his true self, becomes President, and turns out to be another Mao Ze Dong? China will be in deep trouble, because the central government has a lot of power. When Mao Ze Dong was just a small general in the Communist army, he was well liked by all. By the time he became Chairman and President of China, he completely changed and showed his true self – a cruel, sadistic leader who would kill millions of his own people for his own political purposes. Although such tyranny can never happen again in such magnitude (no one has such power anymore in China), a bad leader can still be disastrous to China simply because Chinese leaders have so much power.
- The rule of law in China isn’t strong. There’s a saying in China “if the government wants to bring you down, they will bring you down”. In the U.S. there are carefully crafted laws and a strict Constitution that guarantee certain rights – in China there are no such things. In good times, such as now when the government is just and fair, the law can be pretty lenient. But because there is no strict law, things can change pretty fast, and sometimes for the worse. This can be either a bad or a good thing, as demonstrated in the current crackdown on real estate speculators so that the people can once again afford to buy homes.
- China ultimately is not a pure free-market economy – the economy is still vastly influenced by political policy. Less so in the United States. This leaves a lot of people guessing future political policies, and the problem is, a lot of things in China are like a black box – you don’t know what the politicians are thinking (but hey, how’s that any different from the U.S.?).
How Should China’s Political System Change in the Future?
- In times when the country needs massive reform (such as now), I believe that China’s brand of communism is the correct path. The problem with democracy is that decision making takes too long – decisions are made quickly in China. In addition, a strong central government such as China’s can guide it’s people towards correct paths and away from stray paths. For example, Chinese people have now become obsessed with materialism, hence why brands such as Louis Vuitton and Adidas are extremely popular in China. Materialism definitely is not a good thing – people lose their morale values. Zhong Yang is currently in the process of fixing this problem, shutting down many TV shows that support excess materialism. Such guidance can never happen in a democratic nation – the government simply does not have enough power.
- When Chinese society enters the “developed” stage, China’s political system should change towards a more democratic society. The good thing about democracy is that it prevents tyrannical rulers from staying in power for too long should he or she be elected. Also, democracy promotes political stability, something that China lacks and needs.
To make a long story short, China’s political system is a bit extreme. In good times, the country really roars, but when bad politicians take the reigns, China’s in a lot of trouble.