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China Saying “No” to Democracy

August 26, 2013
Plain English Version

Americans take democracy for granted. We have elections and sometimes have sharp differences of opinion. We hold our public officials “feet to the fire.”

China looks as such things in a different way. A Chinese government secret report, called Document No. 9, has become public.

The report is critical of Western staples such as Constitutional Democracy, human rights, an independent media and civic participation.

Chinese politics include advocates of deeper Western-style economic changes and a more open political system. Traditionalists favor greater state control of both economic and political life.

The new Chinese leader Xi Jinping seemed to be intent on modernizing China and bringing market reforms, but not at the expense of the rule of the Communist Party.

The target are dissidents. The document charges them with stirring up trouble. Mr. Xi Jinping’s hard line worries liberals who thought he stood for political change. Some charge that he is now trying to restore the approach of Mao Zedung. Chinese again are being ordered to compulsory study sessions.

A professor in Shanghai said, “Now the leftists [Communists] feel very excited and elated, while the liberals feel very discouraged and discontented.” This will hurt the broad middle-class and moderate reformers. It may lead to instability rather than stability.

There is a lot of debate about Document No. 9. Some argue that constitutionalism belongs to capitalism. They believe that liberal ideas helped topple the Soviet Union.

Liberals and reformers will have a hard time mobilizing against this strong government push.

Source: The New York Times

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