Books by and about Chinese President Xi Jinping fill an exhibit at the Museum of the Communist Party of China in Beijing on Nov. 11, 2021.
Noel Celis | AFP | Getty Images
BEIJING — A top Chinese official made a rare critique of American and Western democracy during a high-profile political press conference Friday.
The night before, Chinese President Xi Jinping joined the ranks of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, becoming the country’s third leader to oversee the adoption of a “historic resolution” at the end of a much-publicized Chinese Communist Party meeting. Party, the sixth plenum of the party’s Central Committee.
Mao led China for decades after founding the Chinese Communist Party a century ago. Deng led sweeping economic reforms four decades ago that reduced the role of the state in the economy and allowed foreign companies to enter China.
Chinese officials stressed at Friday’s press conference how the country would now follow Xi and his vision of a heavily CCP-dominated system.
And for more than five minutes, Jiang Jinqua, director of the policy research bureau of the party’s central committee, criticized the US and Western countries. because they tried to force their idea of democracy on China.
“Democracy is not an exclusive patent of Western countries, much less should it be defined or dictated by Western countries,” Jiang said in Mandarin, according to an official translation.
“The electoral democracy of western countries is actually a democracy ruled by the capital, and it is a game of the rich, not a real democracy,” he said.
While China’s foreign diplomats and propaganda weapons have made similar criticisms in the past, Jiang’s comments stood out for the high-profile political context of the press event and their specific mention of the U.S.
The US plan to hold a “Democracy Summit” in December is “an attempt to revive Western democracy,” Jiang said. “To convene such a summit against… [a] background of numerous problems in Western democracy, … the intent is nothing but to bash other countries and divide the world.”
He also pointed to polls pointing to widespread concerns in the US about American democracy, compared to China’s overwhelming confidence in their own government.
A Pew Research survey published Nov. 1 found that 72% of Americans say American democracy used to be a good example for others to follow, but not anymore recently. A survey led by York University professor Cary Wu found local satisfaction with the Chinese government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Chinese are constantly attacking democracies because they are not truly representative of the people, but rather as a cover for elites to maintain control,” said Scott Kennedy, senior advisor and trustee Chair in Chinese Business and Economics at the Center for Strategic. and International Studies.
“There are certainly a lot of Americans disappointed with our political system,” Kennedy said, without citing a specific poll. “The irony is that Americans are free to criticize their government. In China, expressing such an opinion can make you a dissident and incarcerated.”
Xi’s New Economic Development Plan
While criticizing Western political systems, Chinese officials on Friday promoted their country’s own agenda and highlighted new models under Xi.
“Xi uses the past to serve the present and claim the future, constructing a historical narrative that justifies his personal leadership and policy preferences as he strives to win a norm-transcending third term as leader at the 20th Party Congress next fall.” to secure.” Neil Thomas, China and Northeast Asia analyst at Eurasia Group, wrote in a note.
Since reaching the top of central government power in 2012, Xi has promoted his own state-oriented political ideology, commonly known as “Xi Thought.”
This week’s official “historic resolution” report reaffirmed Xi’s political leadership by calling him the “chief founder of Xi Jinping thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era.”
Economic development is central to the CCP, said Han Wenxiu, executive vice minister in the finance and economics office of the party’s central committee. He referred to a meeting held in 1978, just as Deng was beginning to allow foreign companies into China.
“As socialism with Chinese characteristics enters a new era, development has taken on new meanings,” Han said.
“We need to put aside the old development path,” he said, pointing out that high-quality development is now more important — such as recognizing that “green and lush mountains are invaluable.” Han insisted that Beijing would still like to “open up” and remain part of the global economy.
China’s business plan
Many foreign investors and companies have been caught off guard this year by Beijing’s crackdown on internet technology companies, after-school tutors and real estate developers.
Tech giants have subsequently sought to show that they are in line with Beijing’s efforts to pursue “common prosperity” and focus on moderate wealth for all, rather than just a few. That means tackling societal problems such as high living costs and an impending labor shortage due to a rapidly aging population.
Xi’s view is that “ideological challenges pose a threat to national security,” the Economist Intelligence Unit said in a statement. That will “point to more assertive efforts to shape ‘ideological education’ across the country, in ways that could take on an anti-Western tone. However, economic reforms were barely mentioned, suggesting that the current tendency towards [regulatory] intervention will continue.”
Chinese officials on Friday did not immediately respond to questions about how policy goals could be affected by slowing economic growth.
Han of the Ministry of Economic Affairs said: “Entrepreneurs have multiple ways and means of contributing to common prosperity, the most basic of which is to operate lawfully and fairly.” Han said stealing from the rich to help the poor in a “Robinhood” approach to forcing donations “would run counter to the original idea of communal prosperity.”
He also said the “right way to contribute to common prosperity” includes paying taxes, carrying out “social responsibilities” and treating employees and customers well.