2005-09-06

Gradualism and "Democracy with Chinese Characteristics"

At Simonworld, HK Dave has a great discussion on Reuter's report on Wen's comment (Note that the media has been reminding us that Wen Jiabao stood right next to Zhao Ziyang on Tiananmen Square, May 18, 1989), that China will be pursuing democracy, now after successful testing of suffrage at the village level ('中国将推进其民主政治发展,坚定不移地重新构建(民主),包括举行直接选举......如果中国人民能够管好一个村子,我相信几年内他们将能管好一个镇。这个制度将循序渐进。) Anti resonated with cautious optimism. He actually already said that a week ago, unawared by himself, when he commented on Super Girl's implications. "Let a subset of our girls get democracy first" (让一部分女人先民主起来). In fact, China already has "let a subset of our peasants get some sort of democracy first", and now they finally are confident enough to enlarge that subset!

In 1987, Hu Yaobang almost convinced Deng to take those important steps. Then they were scared. In 1989 CCP and Deng demonstrated their total lack of self-confidence. Ironically, What happened in China encouraged peaceful evolution in Eastern Europe, and what happened in Eastern Europe subseequently helped CCP to convince its citizens the importance of "stability".
Today, with the booming economy, it seems to be a good time to push that baby-step. This baby step is made possible after a number of more minor steps, such as SARS, sacrifice of Sun Zhigang and the adorable Super Girls. This is a "path to democracy with Chinese characteristics". Like "socialism with Chinese characteristics", the color of the cat is not important, as long as it catches the mice. China has its own solution for reform. Examples are the way they introduced competition into the telecom sector, by creating China Netcom and let CT and CNC compete as incumbent and new entrants at different geographies. Maybe they would split up CCP to create bipartisan politicis, who knows?

I remember there is a mathematic puzzle in elementary school. "A Frog climbs up a well. Every day it moves up 3 meters, during the night it drops 2 meters. The well is 10 meters high. How long does it take for the frog to climb out?" This is a frog's race. But I am optimistic, because

  1. Now we already got 2 days covered, only 6 more to go
  2. For every meter up, even if it retreats, there will be a net advance of (at least) 1/3 meter
  3. The last day end at dusk, the frog will not drop down during the night
"Big changes usually happen through a series of smaller steps, and big decisions are taken only after intermediate steps are tried and found wanting." the best illustration on gradualism is still this line by Brad.

update (Sep5): To understand what has been implemented in rural China, see this: via daveinchina, "The United States Institute of Peace did an excellent look at China's move towards democracy titled, 'Muddling toward Democracy.' You can give the website a look or download the entire pdf here."

update (Sep6): On Jun 14, a commentary on People Daily about Super Girl sated:
  • "[We] cannot understand, why some people are so supportive of the anti-democracy election of 'little mayors' among students (in which candidates are nominated by teachers), but they are so eager to get rid of Super Girl, which promote democracy, competition and trains our new generation..." 不明白,为什么有人对于在学生中评选“小市长”、“小县长”之类明显违背民主政治原则、助长“官本位”意识的活动持肯定态度,却对于有着民主、竞争意识、有利于锻炼人的“超级女声”横眉冷对,非去之而后快?

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