China claims its authoritarian one-party system is a democracy – and one that works better than the US – Community News
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China claims its authoritarian one-party system is a democracy – and one that works better than the US

In response, China has stepped up its propaganda efforts in an effort to promote an alternative model of “democracy,” twisting the definition of the term to fit its own authoritarian one-party system.

“This is a preemptive strike on Biden’s democracy summit,” said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, an expert on Chinese politics at Hong Kong Baptist University. “Now China feels that it should be not only defensive, but also offensive.”

Over the weekend, Beijing held its own two-day virtual International Forum on Democracy, bringing together politicians and scientists from more than 120 countries.

In his keynote speech, Huang Kunming, the propaganda czar of the ruling Communist Party, praised China’s so-called “people’s democracy of the whole process” – a concept put forth by Chinese leader Xi Jinping – and described it as a “true democracy that works.” .”

Huang later explained the theory, confusingly emphasizing that it “integrates process-oriented democracy with results-oriented democracy, procedural democracy with material democracy, direct democracy with indirect democracy, and people’s democracy with the will of the state.”

Simultaneously with the event, the Chinese cabinet, the State Council, on Saturday with great fanfare released a white paper entitled ‘China: Democracy that Works’.

“There is no fixed model of democracy; it manifests itself in many forms. Judging the myriad political systems in the world by a single yardstick and examining diverse political structures in black and white is in itself undemocratic,” the 13,000 said. word document.

By most international standards, China is the opposite of a democracy. The ruling Communist Party has been in power for more than seven decades since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. There is no separation of powers, independence of the judiciary, freedom of association, expression and opinion, periodic free and fair elections by universal suffrage or independent media – which are essential elements of democracy as defined by the United Nations.
And China is near the bottom of most international rankings for political and personal freedoms, including the annual “freedom score” given by Washington-based NGO Freedom House, based on 25 political rights and civil liberties statistics.

Chinese activists who call for democracy are routinely silenced, harassed and imprisoned, including Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died in prison in 2017 after spending nearly a quarter of his life behind bars.

Of course, none of this is mentioned in China’s latest propaganda offensive. Instead, it’s trying to cloud the waters about what constitutes a democracy, said Dali Yang, a political scientist at the University of Chicago.

“This is a battle over the global discourse on democracy. They (Chinese officials) have gotten used to the idea that if you make a claim and repeat it often enough, you can really go a long way,” he said.

Xi Jinping is rewriting history.  But it's the future he wants to leave his mark on

Xi, China’s supreme leader, has repeatedly stressed that the country must “compete for international power in the discourse.”

“If you’re retarded, you’ll get beat up; if you’re poor, you’ll have to starve; if you can’t talk, you’ll get scolded,” Xi said in a 2015 speech, noting that “reviling” is the only thing outstanding problem is that China needs to solve.
And in the eyes of the Communist Party, now is the perfect time to say something. Beijing has managed to contain the spread of the coronavirus and is now holding that success as proof of the superiority of its political system. It also seizes the divisions sown under former US President Donald Trump as evidence of the demise of Western political models.
China’s Foreign Ministry released a comprehensive report on Sunday attacking American democracy, listing the Capitol riots, Black Lives Matter protests and the country’s pandemic response as evidence of its deep-seated flaws, dysfunction and chaos.

But China’s rush to declare itself a democracy may also be driven by a sense of growing necessity.

Since Biden took office, the US has reversed its inward-looking withdrawal from the global stage under Trump and redoubled its efforts to build alliances with like-minded partners to counter China’s rising influence — a challenge Biden characterizes as part of a broader ideological struggle between democracies and autocracies.

While China’s self-proclaimed model of democracy is unlikely to convince democratic countries — especially in the developed world — Yang, the expert at the University of Chicago, said it could find a more receptive audience in the global south.

China has framed its “democracy” as one that is more effective in meeting people’s needs, highlighting the country’s rapid economic development.

“I think some of the emphasis on producing results can really convince people,” Yang said. “One should not underestimate the percentage of people who are willing to sacrifice some elements of democracy for better economic well-being.”

Beijing passes new "patriot"  Hong Kong electoral law restricting opposition

The emphasis on performance also carries dangers, Yang warned. “When the economy slows down, you risk looking really bad. And when it worsens significantly into a crisis, it raises questions (regarding legitimacy).”

But the Chinese Communist Party also claims it is a “process-oriented democracy,” pointing to the country’s multi-tiered legislative system as evidence. In theory, deputies to the legislature at the village and county level are directly elected by the residents, who in turn are tasked with electing deputies to the higher level, and so on. At the very top of the system is the National People’s Congress, a parliamentary body that meets annually to approve major decisions and policies of the party.

In practice, however, these grassroots ‘elections’ are highly scripted affairs. And under Xi, it has become virtually impossible for independent candidates — especially those who disagree with the party — to play a part in the process.

In October, 14 independent candidates attempted to run for local elections for the Beijing People’s Congress. They were eventually harassed, placed under house arrest or forced to leave the city, and none of them managed to participate.

“To put it simply, China’s ‘democracy’ is under the dictatorship of the Communist Party,” said Cabestan of Hong Kong Baptist University.

“So if you are obedient to the party, if you accept the dictatorship of the party, you can participate in political life. If not, you will be expelled.”

In its white paper, the Chinese government states that “whether a country is democratic should be judged by its people, not dictated by a handful of outsiders.” But even within China, there are signs that many are not convinced by the official story.

On Weibo, China’s heavily censored version of Twitter, a message from party spokesman People’s Daily about the State Department’s attack on American democracy was flooded with sarcastic comments before the censorship started.

‘Who ever elected a representative to the People’s Congress? Who ever voted?’ said one of the best comments. “I’m not even an ‘extra’ in the show,” said another.

These comments were later removed. Of the more than 2,700 comments, only a dozen were allowed to be shown – all critical of democracy in the US.

Another report from the state news agency Xinhua about China’s “people’s democracy” has completely disabled the comment section.

One user shared the post, noting, “(China is) so democratic it doesn’t need the comment section anymore.”

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