Published: 01:59, July 18, 2023 | Updated: 10:50, July 18, 2023
Protecting China’s political system is of paramount importance
By Ho Lok-sang

China needs to protect its political system. It is important to point out that prosecuting those who want to undo China’s political system is totally different from a ruling party in a multiparty system purging its political opponents. In a multiparty system, different parties compete for power. 

The ruling party of course wants to hold on to power, while opposition parties want to unseat the ruling party. If the ruling party uses the power of the state to purge those in the opposition, it is unfair and thus that act is symptomatic of an illiberal democracy. In China, we have the political system led by the Communist Party of China (CPC). The vast majority of Chinese people want to preserve this system because it has worked so well.

Many haters of the CPC keep referring to the errors made by the party in the past. Some of these haters have personal grudges against the CPC because their loved-ones or friends suffered during the early years of CPC rule. But the CPC today has evolved and improved its governance. It has discarded ideological dogma, and instead has chosen to learn from every error that was made in the past. It has become pragmatic and scientific. If there is an ideology that the CPC keeps, it is just this: to serve the people.

It cannot be denied that the CPC-led system has lifted 800 million Chinese from extreme poverty. The World Bank has testified to this success story.

It cannot be denied that China has grown from a nation with a poor infrastructure to become the planet’s infrastructure superpower. Its roads, high-speed railways, bridges, undersea tunnels, airports, container ports — all have stunned the world because China’s engineers are resourceful and innovative and have overcome difficulties that appear insurmountable to many.

China and India started on a par with each other during the early 1950s. But today China’s nominal GDP of $18 trillion is roughly six times that of India. China’s and India’s GDP per capita in 2022 stood at $12,720 and $2,387 respectively, according to World Bank figures.

In science and technology, China’s performance is mind-blowing. Based on Nature.com, of the top 10 research institutions with a high-impact output, six are from China. The Chinese Academic of Sciences took the top spot. It is followed by Harvard University of the US, Max Planck Society of Germany, and the National Centre for Scientific Research of France. Nos 5 through 9 are all from China. Stanford University of the US took 10th place.

China’s life expectancy has climbed impressively and reached 78.2 years in 2021, according to the National Health Commission in July 2022. This is higher than that of the United States, which dropped to 76.1 in the same year, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. China’s huge improvement in life expectancy is in part due to improving air and water quality and better public hygiene, and in part due to vastly improved healthcare and health consciousness among the public.

For decades, China’s economic growth was achieved at the expense of extensive pollution and increasing regional disparity. But in recent years, these concerns have been comprehensively addressed. Both air quality and water quality have improved significantly. Inland provinces have picked up development speed and often grow faster than coastal provinces. In 2022, China’s growth was 3 percent. Provinces and autonomous regions with 4 percent or better growth include Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Hubei, Hunan, Gansu, Shanxi, Jiangxi and Yunnan, and they are all inland.

It is a shame that former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo wrote a commentary in Hudson Institute’s website questioning Harvard University’s academic integrity for delivering a report for its longitudinal study since 2003. The surveys were conducted in eight waves from 2003 through 2016, and captured opinion data from 32,000 individual respondents. According to the Ash Center website: “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 to these findings, Gallup reported in January of this year that their latest polling on US citizen satisfaction with the American federal government revealed only 38 percent of respondents were satisfied with the federal government.”

The findings of the Ash Center are thoroughly reliable. They corroborate the results of a number of authoritative studies, including a study from the Alliance of Democracies. The consulting firm Latana, in conjunction with the Alliance of Democracies, reported that 83 percent of Chinese think their country is democratic. This compares with a mere 27 percent in America. Pompeo’s harsh criticism of the Ash Center is not based on evidence or facts, but because he did not like the results. He took issue with polling firm Horizon Research because its chairman was connected to the CPC. But Pompeo needs to see things in perspective. How about the Latana/Alliance of Democracies study? How about the Edelman Trust Barometer? How about the facts that I laid out in the preceding paragraphs?

According to the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer, Chinese people’s Trust for Government stands at 89 points, more than double that of the US (42 points). Exactly because the political system in China serves its people well, it is considered a public infrastructure that we all need to protect. Do you now understand why we need to hold the fugitives responsible for their crimes, Mr Pompeo?

The author is director of the Pan Sutong Shanghai-Hong Kong Economic Policy Research Institute, Lingnan University.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.