The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China insists that its mission is to end “one-party rule” in China. The presumption can only be that ending “one-party rule” would be good for the country. But why?
It is said that the Communist Party of China is just another dynasty in China, and the ruling class is there to guard its own interests at the expense of the people. It is said that the CPC goes counter to the universal values of democracy and equality. But are these claims true?
Recently, Joseph Lian Yi-zheng, a former Hong Kong University of Science and Technology professor who had worked for years at the Hong Kong Economic Journal, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times (July 1, 2021) claiming that the United States had wasted 45 years trying to engage China because China would never become a democracy. He wants the West to face the “menacing challenge” posed by the rise of China “at its front door”.
But the Chinese political system is not a dynasty, and China has no interest in meddling in other countries’ affairs. What is the “menace”? Why should the West worry?
There is no “ruling class” in China that defends its core interests at the expense of oppressed people. Although China’s political system is not based on different political parties vying for power, the CPC is extraordinarily inclusive. Many of today’s leaders came from the grassroots, and they have climbed up the hierarchy of power from the ranks of ordinary cadres based on their performances and track records through a rigorous system of fair competition. Examples are Wang Yang and Han Zheng, both of whom now serve on the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and are (or were) vice-premiers. Unlike dynasties, the CPC does not allow succession along family blood lines. Instead, for decades there has been a peaceful and lawful transition of power from one generation of leadership to the next.
China’s CPC-led political system is just an alternative political system to the ballot box. Shouldn’t sovereign nations have the freedom to choose their own political system? Although China’s political system is different from the US’, the two countries share the same universal values of peace, prosperity, equality, and freedom
Retired premier Zhu Rongji is a staunch supporter of the Communist Party of China. He worked all the way from a grassroot cadre to premier. His father died before he was born, and his mother died when he was 12. He always lived a frugal life. An economic reformer, he devoted his efforts to fighting vested interests that had tried to sabotage reforms. He donated royalties of 24 million yuan (US$3.7 million) from some of his books to charity. He does not belong to any “ruling class.” Although Xi Jinping’s father, Xi Zhongxun, was in high office, Xi had to work his way up from the ranks of ordinary cadres without any privilege.
That Lian called China a “communist empire” stokes fears. Empires are typically expansionist. But China has expressed its commitment to nonintervention in the affairs of other sovereign nations.
China’s CPC-led political system is just an alternative political system to the ballot box. Shouldn’t sovereign nations have the freedom to choose their own political system? Although China’s political system is different from the US’, the two countries share the same universal values of peace, prosperity, equality, and freedom. The 2008 Beijing Olympics slogan was “One World, One Dream”. We just pursue our dreams in different ways. Why shouldn’t China have the liberty to choose its own path? Imposing one’s political system on others in the name of democracy is undemocratic.
In a multiparty system, different parties typically represent different class interests. In the context of a multiparty system, if the ruling party uses public resources and official power to gain an advantage over competing parties, that should be described as oppressive. But China’s political system is not a multiparty system. In a single party “unitary leadership” system, fairness can be achieved if it is inclusive and it allows everyone to join and compete fairly for promotion. Today, even capitalists can join the Communist Party of China, which now boasts more than 95 million members.
All the evidence shows that this system has served China well: the economy, poverty eradication, environmental conservation, infrastructure, technology and innovation, education, healthcare, social safety net, public safety ... the list goes on. A recent Harvard Ash Center longitudinal study that “has taken the better part of 15 years” found that “in 2016, the last year the survey was conducted, 95.5 percent of respondents were either ‘relatively satisfied’ or ‘highly satisfied’ with Beijing”. In contrast, Gallup reported in January that only 31 percent of US citizens who responded to its poll were satisfied with the US federal government. Against this background, there is a good reason for China to defend its political system against all attempts of subversion. This will not take away people’s personal freedoms except the freedom of subversion.
If members of the HK Alliance are truly patriotic, they should look at the CPC’s history objectively. Its resilience and success today are based on a scientific, self-reflective, self-correcting attitude. Dogma has given way to pragmatism. But it remains committed to the same communist ideals of freedom, equality, peace, and prosperity. The CPC will certainly still make errors from time to time. Please help to make it do even better, but never again attempt to end it.
The author is a senior research fellow at the Pan Sutong Shanghai-Hong Kong Economic Policy Research Institute, Lingnan University.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
HONG KONG NEWS