In recent months, China has been immersed in what some, including Du Daozheng (杜导正), director of the editorial board at the journal Yanhuang Chunqiu, have characterized as a newly intensified debate about the country’s future. And much of that debate has centered on the question of political reform.
In the most (dangerously) simplistic terms, the debate pits Premier Wen Jiabao (温家宝) and those advocating political reform — Wen recently said China was at “a great new juncture in our history” and obstructions to reform were a “dead end” and “contrary to the will of the people” — and conservative elements in the Party who are opposed.
In the midst of these debates came the recent decision to award the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波), and attacks by official Party media on the Nobel decision have also criticized what they characterize as the foolish deference to Western political ideas of democracy and human rights.
In a piece over the weekend, the official People’s Daily newspaper denounced Western democracy as a “bogus” sham and an “ideological snare” meant to keep the Chinese people enslaved.
The piece also took a jab at Liu Xiaobo, saying he couldn’t possibly understand the “spirit and belief” in socialism that drives the Chinese people on to acts of bravery and selflessness in the face of disaster. Liu was placed snidely in the same sentence at schoolteacher Fan Meizhong (范美忠), known popularly as “Running Fan,” infamous for deserting his students (or so one side of the story goes) to save his own life during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
Portions of the People’s Daily editorial follow. We also recommend a glance at the comments under the editorial at the Tianya forum, including sarcastic gems like: “Well said! We must firmly oppose the Western road of democracy, and travel instead the Western road of socialism! Aye! Either way, aren’t they both Western?”
The Chinese People Will Not Be Imposed Upon
October 23, 2010
For a long time, certain forces in the West and those sympathetic to them have schemed in the name of political system reforms (政治体制改革) to drag out so-called “constitutional reform” programs involving multi-party systems (多党制) and separation of powers (三权分立), promoting western democracy, freedom, human rights, etcetera, throwing dust in the people’s eyes, confusing the masses, attacking the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and the socialist system. Essentially, they believe that we must mimic the political systems of the West, and that “the changing of ruling parties” (政党轮替), “separation of powers” (三权分立), “parliamentary democracy” (议会制民主) and such things are the very best things possible, treasures that apply universally all over the world. In ideological terms, this understanding is wrong — in practical terms, it is harmful.
Most of the values trumpeted in the West are bogus, and they don’t even live by them themselves. They advertise that human rights are higher than sovereignty, for example, but do Western countries open their borders to allow populations from developing nations to go to Western nations in search of work, enjoying their clean air and water and sanitary environments? Deng Xiaoping pointed out during his discussions in the south [during his famous “southern tour”] that, “The major questions of world peace and development have not yet been solved.”
Why have they not been solved? One important reason is there is no democracy in the realm of international relations. When has the club of rich nations at the top of the international food chain ever given late-development countries democracy and freedom, relinquishing the discourse and negotiation power they hold? They will not do this. In the Chinese people’s one-hundred year journey toward democracy and freedom, it is not as though they have not attempted to embrace and transplant Western political forms of democracy. But each time they have been strangled by other powers and feudal forces, who want only to give the Chinese people a slavish freedom. Ultimately, it was under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party that the Chinese people overturned imperialism, feudalism and bureaucratic capitalism, and found the path to liberation of our people.
Deng Xiaoping saw the truth of Western democracy when he said: “The democracy spoken of in capitalist societies is the democracy of the bourgeoisie, and in truth it is the democracy of monopoly capital.” For those peoples who are weak, these beautiful trappings are no doubt nothing more than ideological snares.
. . . .
In our social lives, [policewoman] Ren Changxia (任长霞), Wang Ying (王英), [model policeman] Tan Dong (谭东), [model worker] Guo Mingyi (郭明义) and others who worked heroically on the front lines, the officials and soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army taking part in disaster relief work, they risk their lives, fearlessly facing all risks, serving the nation and the people — and what spirit and belief is it that drives them on? It is the spirit of serving the people, this is the soul of the people’s democracy of our socialist political model, and the value orientation of all Chinese.
This is something that the “Running Fans” [a teacher from Sichuan who was said to have fled his classroom during the 2008 earthquake to save his own hide], and the “Liu Xiaobo’s” cannot possibly understand, and it is something various forces in the West utterly detest. Our socialism can overcome the savage aggressors, it can detonate two nuclear devices and send a satellite into space, it can overcome plagues, flood, freezes and quakes — this [socialist spirit] is the magic weapon that sends us Chinese people ever to victory. The Chinese have their own scientific choices to be made for their path of political development. They do not need “Western lessons” from the “great Westerners.”