Does China Want to Become a Democracy?

June 13, 2007 at 12:01 pm | Posted in China, Politics, Taiwan, 台灣, 台湾, 政治, 中国, 中國 | Leave a comment

Andrew Leonard’s How the World Works has a post entitled, “has Taiwan screwed up China’s chances for democracy?” In summary, the article talks about how Taiwan’s seemingly chaotic, infant democracy may be setting a bad example for China, and thus stunt its “aspirations” to move forward with democratic reforms.

However, I believe the more prudent question should be, “does China even want to become a democracy?” or even more specifically, “what are the CCP’s motivations and incentives in pushing for democracy?”

Aside from the conventional notion that as a population becomes more affluent, it would naturally become more inclined to seek out democracy, another major driving force behind Taiwan’s transition from authoritarian rule was the fact that the government was “originally designed” to be a democracy. Therefore, going ahead with democratic reforms would only further bolster the government’s legitimacy and thus worked in its favor. Additionally, it was also a lot easier for political dissidents (rights activists) to fight for human rights, free elections and so when these rights were already included in the constitution.

Now let’s look at China. The CCP’s only source of legitimacy would be if it holds on to its communist ideals and strive to bring “equality to all” (at least in appearance). The CCP along with the rest of world knows that today’s China is the farthest thing from a communist state as envisioned by Marx and Lenin. However, China is still considered a “communist state” as long as it is a one-party state in which the ruling party declares allegiance to Marxism-Leninism and in which the institutions of the party and the state have become intertwined. The CCP understands this concept all too well, because without its communist “appearance” it would merely be a self-appointed ruling party aka authoritarian regime, which would completely strip the CCP of its legitimacy. This explains why the CCP is so sensitive towards anything political and its efforts in upholding the image of Mao.

For now, China’s breakneck economic growth and the people’s general attitude of “money first, screw the rest” have so far diverted attention away from the CCP. However, it should be clear by now that the CCP’s is ONLY concerned with staying in power. The same may be true for most political parties, but under a democracy with multiple political factions to serve as checks and balances, politicians are more motivated to better serve the interest of the people. So once again, the question is, since it’s only concerned with staying in power, does the CCP have any incentives or intention to push for democratic reforms? I seriously doubt it.


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