Li Zhaoxing, a spokesman for the fifth session of the 11th National People’s Congress, which closed Monday in Beijing, delivered a fatal blow to the fantasy of political reform propagated by regime leaders in recent years.
Chinese Regime in Crisis
At a press conference on March 4, before the opening of the meeting, Li started out by commenting positively on direct elections, but then he switched and said a direct-election system across the country is not suitable for China.
“In view of China’s vast size, its large population, its unbalanced economic and social development, and the inconvenient transportation [system] in some areas, it is not convenient, it is difficult to implement a direct election,” Li said.
Li also said China’s election system “is a combination of direct and indirect elections and suits China’s national conditions.”
The so-called “direct elections” in China are nothing more than a political game under the tight control of the Chinese Community Party’s (CCP’s) local party committees. To qualify, local candidates must receive prior endorsement from the local party committee and government officials.
We have seen hundreds of independent candidates attempting to run for elections at the local level facing harassment of various forms. Direct elections across the country, under a one-party regime, cannot be implemented because, according to Li, they don’t suit “China’s national conditions,” to say nothing of being a political reform that would pave the way for democracy.
Yet Li’s remarks are so absurd that one cannot help but wonder whether Li , China’s former Ambassador to the United States, who is considered the westernizing faction’s elite within the CCP, who is described by the Chinese media as “iron mouth” and the “poetic diplomat,” and who holds degrees from various prestigious universities in China, has any common sense.
There are some other countries, larger in size than China—the United States, Russia, Canada, and India, for example—where democratic systems built upon direct popular elections have been implemented. Although Russia has not attained as great a level of democracy as others because Prime Minister Putin likes to play political tricks the country is determined to implement serious direct elections.
In regard to Li’s argument that China’s regional economic development is uneven, the regional economic development in the United States has also been uneven. Chinese customarily use different terms to describe different parts of the United States, calling the northern states “first world,” the western states “second world,” and the southern states “third world.”
As conditions in these three regions vary, the levels of economic development and their industrial structure have significant differences. To adjust this imbalance, the U.S. federal government has adopted various fiscal measures, with outstanding results. The same “imbalance” also exists in other countries, such as the United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany.
If direct voting should be held only on the day the economic social development is balanced, as Li seems to imply, there would not be any democratic country, and no system of universal suffrage, anywhere in the world.
Li’s comments make no sense; they are nothing but propaganda aimed to maintain Beijing’s one-party authoritarian rule.
Since the “reform and opening up,” Beijing and its clique have devised numerous reasons why a democratic system is not suitable for China. They seek to protect the interests of one-party rule from being ruined by political reforms and to ensure that power and special interests are smoothly handed down to their offspring.
Their favorite excuses have been that China’s economic foundation is too frail, and the best time to carry out democracy is when the economy is fully developed. During the last decade, China has become an economic power, and its GDP even ranks second in the world, so the reasoning based on the economy is now no longer cited.
The current pretext for withholding direct elections is that “people’s quality is too low,” meaning thatthe Chinese people’s education level is too low to let them vote.
During the last few years, Premier Wen Jiabao has often pledged reform. In December 2003, during a speech at Harvard University, he was asked when China would begin the reforms. Wen answered, “Chinese people are not ready.”
Some people have argued that when the United States, Taiwan, and India implemented democracy, the education level of their citizens were far lower than that of today’s Chinese. And some sympathetic people have said we should give Hu and Wen, the leaders of this generation, a little time.
Now that Hu and Wen are going to step down soon, the “silver-tongued diplomat” Li speaks of “a vast territory and a large population.” What were long hyped as China’s greatest advantages during Mao’s rule, now become the reason for the regime’s inability to implement democratic reform.
Beijing could not come up with a legal explanation for not enacting reform, and the silver-tongued Li could only blabber.
The real reason that the communist regime does not want to implement democratic reform based on the principle of leaders elected by and governed by the people, is that such a system would end the rule of communist China’s self-seeking groups. If the system were established, cadres could no longer wantonly loot the state treasury and illicitly transfer economic and political interests among themselves
Hopes for Chinese Democratic Reform Dashed | Thinking About China | Opinion | Epoch Times