Democracy with Chinese Characteristics
October 31 , 2011
“…the people’s wishes for and needs for democracy and freedom are irresistible.” Premier Wen Jia-Bao,
interview with CNN, September 23, 2010
democracies are far from perfect, there is a lot of work to be done to make democracy work
democracies change and adapt and accommodate
China counts as 20% of the world’s population
No reason for China to become democratic? There is serious need for economic and political
reform, deepen elections, transparency in government
China in the Modern Era
there have been many potential democratic openings in China
End of the Qing dynasty, the Opium War of 1842 [the British exported opium to China and many
Chinese became addicted]
1895, China lost war with Japan
Population crisis, growing economically but population was growing faster
80 million to 500 million during the Qing Dynasty, population explosion led to poverty
China was a backwards case for a long time, economically and technologically
Nationalist revolution led to the end of the Qing dynasty, it was a Manchurian dynasty
Republican revolution, 1911, the overthrowing of the emperor (and for the first time, China was a
Sun Yat-Sen, he wanted China to be modern power, inspired by Abraham Lincoln
“Three Principles of the People”
-Nation, a modern nation that is self-reliant
-Democracy, like all modern republics
-Welfare, China would be able to feed their own country
Shanghai, international financial centers
What kind of democracy does China have?
Democracy with Chinese characteristics?
We don’t see a Polyarchy, institutionalized uncertainty (no alternatives to the Chinese communist
party) and a poor human rights record.
There is no freedom of speech, freedom of the press.
China is modern, second largest economy in the world. How can China modernize but not be
I. A Democratic Revolution?
-high tide of Maoist socialism (1949-56) potentially a democratic movement
Country was supposed to be based on a few Maoist principles: socialism, revolutionary spirit, anti-
foreigners have done nothing good for China, they were going to be self-reliant
in 1956, Mao launched the mini-leap forward to propel self-reliance, “more, faster, better…” we have t