The actual debate concerning the political system in China raises many inquiries, remarks, critics, and observations. To what extent does communism benefit the People's Republic? Is there a democracy model that could be applied to China? What would be its long-term impact on China? On the World? Before discussing these subjects and arguing on details, we should try to have better insights on China's political model true origins. Another interesting point worth addressing is the fact that despite criticisms, most countries are actually keen on developing partnerships and other opportunities on its soil, under its rules. After the collapse of East European and Soviet communism in 1989, the people in China began losing their confidence in communism.
To react to this phenomenon and to restore hope, belief and moral among the people, the Chinese Communist Party had to soften its ideology, relying on traditional values. If we push back our study to ancient Chinese political philosophy (Confucianism), we observe an authoritarian model with strict hierarchy, to control people by highlighting a strong authoritarian figure. Chinese politics are based on these traditional Confucian values rather than communist ideologies since the opening policy began; even if the exact values taken from this tradition are kept unmentioned. In this context, no semblance of democratic spirit could be implemented in China. Growing up, and blooming directly from the soil of China, the Chinese political system had to be affected by a profound Chinese political culture. One might think that the Chinese government abuse human rights by controlling freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion.
Speaking in public is still limited and the Four cardinal Principles of CCP ("adhering to the socialist road, adhering to the people's democratic dictatorship, adhering to Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought, and adhering to the leadership of the Communist Party of China.") are still unchallenged. Nevertheless, the party believes that unlimited speech may influence the stability of the country. Whatever the limitation of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, the goal is to maintain the power of the party to state. And amazingly to our western eyes, people, based on their common sense of the previously stated traditional values, will support the party policy.
This highlights the fact that, many ancient political practices are still topical nowadays. Bare in mind that China's political and business elites still work in manners that sometimes can remind us of the imperial way (various "fringe benefits", highly respected hierarchy, power locations.). They still accept some of the symbols, legacies and policies of imperial China, while disclaiming them at the same time.
"Cultural and historical influences on politics and business are of course important everywhere, but in China they are deeper and more insistent in the make-up of the individual than in any Western country," says Stephen Fitzgerald, Australia's first ambassador to Beijing and now a China consultant. "They insinuate themselves into all human transactions, and once apprehended they open the way to a transactional reward." China's system shows multiple drawbacks and as many advantages, but as paradoxical as it may sound, in a world were capitalism excels, it is more important for China to maintain development, stability and prosperity, than to do otherwise. This ongoing worldwide "race" might explain why political progress lags far behind the economic progress since 1989. China's potential is worth millions to many foreign countries, which might make such remarks concerning freedom of speech, or else, but still want their share of the pie.
Australia for example, has a growing friendship with China, and like most other foreign investing countries in China, governments try to separate business topics and political matters as much as possible.
Tim Lyons is Executive Director of Manage China. Manage China is a company that helps foreign firms who are interested in doing business in China. http://www.managechina.com