Monday, April 5, 2010

"Democracy" in China, Part III

Few people outside of China have ever read the words of Mao Zedong. From my perspective this only contributes to the ignorance surrounding the CCP's position on Western democracy and continued tensions between the West and the PRC.

As such it is only appropriate to briefly discuss Mao's position on democracy, as his thought still guides the CCP. In his speech on democracy, Mao clearly outlines why the Chinese people could not accept Western democracy. In the fourth and fifth paragraphs, he describes the Chinese people's experience with Western democracy and its ultimate failure because it excluded so many of the Chinese people. Moreover, despite such strong yearning to become modern through Western ideals, the Western powers (Europe, the U.S., Japan, and Russia), were still treating China as a backward state, demanding commercial contracts for railroads and banking. They also still clung to their spheres of influence where Chinese law had no power.

In the fifth paragraph, Mao describes that socialism will abolish classes in society, reflecting the growing disparity between the rich and poor. Now one could argue that such a disparity always existed in China, however socialist philosophy had never entered the Chinese psyche before.

In the paragraph concerning abolishing state power (towards the end), Mao is quite honest stating that anyone who opposes the socialist revolution in China will not be treated kindly. Only those considered "the people" will be treated with benevolence. Recognizing that purging political threats has been a mainstay throughout the Republic of China under Yuan Shikai and Chiang Kai-shek (who hunted the CCP), this position cannot come as a surprise.

To sum up, Mao and the modern day CCP leadership have no taste for Western democracy. Not only is it viewed as corrupt (ironic considering that no government is free of corruption), but also because "democracy" in China is associated with chaos, civil strife, and weakness. The Republic of China was never able to stand on its own two feet and govern the entire territory of China (which in and of itself is a subject of debate). As such Western calls for liberalization in Chinese politics will fall of deaf ears in Beijing for the time being.

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