“There is not Communism or Marxism, but representative democracy and social justice in a well-planned economy.” - Fidel Castro China, a predicament of social injustice, has been debated upon its coercive form of government over decades now, by eminent scholars and experts, who have been discussing about China’s future in their everlasting debates regarding the stand China will ultimately have to take in the coming decades.
The fact that makes China as such a controversial subject in the world is because of its combination of its incomparable history, though it initially followed the footsteps of the USSR, when the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) overthrew the Kuomintang (KMT or nationalist) regime under Sun Yat-Sen in 1949 and on the other hand, its ceaseless growth in its economy since the last three decades.
This anomalous coupling has placed the citizens as well as the rest of the world in a dilemma as to where will China’s future eventually lie. The whole world is aware of the approaching reality that this country is in grave need for major policy changes in terms of political and economical reforms to survive in harmony. Lately, the inclination of the change in political system, from a communist state to a democratic state has shifted its course from the impossible to maybe possible.
The constituents such as the social unrest due to various factors, environmental issues and the ever-widening income gap have enclosed the arguments and a dawn has broken off in a country where the possibilities were going negative. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which was in power for 69 years, and the Communist Party of China, which has been in power for the past 63 years - being the second largest country to be able to dominate the idea of communism, a revolutionary socialist movement over the country, both had several resemblances.
Naming a few – highly educated leaders, immoral leaders, at initial stages the same Soviet-style command economy and so on. However, after a certain lapse of time, China began to emerge with its own unique Chinese modernization strategy under its eminent leader Mao. Soviet was characterized by static equilibrium and Chinese model was termed as dynamic equilibrium. This proved to be the main difference between the two communist states, that Soviet Union failed to adapt to its times.
The three precise reasons for the downfall of the Soviet Union in 1991 are its “miscalculation of national identity, the lack of a strong connection between Soviet led bloc states, and having a leader that supported Western-Democracy more than Communism”. During the 1980s hardly anyone had faith in the Soviet Union and the whole idea of communism. Unlike the Soviet Union, China’s revolution and its victory back in 1949 was remarkably emotional due to the mass movement. Major part was played by the poor peasants, as the government provided self-defense, education agricultural cooperation, support for fulltime guerillas, and the mass movements sparked a feeling of belonging and having a stake in government.
Owing to the fact that China has been under a number of leaders and its policies through them have significantly changed, the main aim of China in the long run ought to be how to maintain this faith of the public. Off late, however, China’s political institution has created significant amount of social unrest and the inequality is seen evidently among the people. China has no check in place on spending adequate amount on the social welfare of the country, which every country needs. Instead, the country’s paramount motto has been ‘growth at any cost’ and the country fails to have any such thing as ‘voice of the people’.
This motto undeniably has done wonders in the past and still is maintaining that “image of a successful, authoritarian and developmental state” by sustaining impeccable international relations and being a member of the United Nations Security Council and the G-20, a group of major economies, as the only communist state and most importantly it has helped China to carry out the double digit pace. But amidst of all these achievements and glory it has overlooked the human rights of the vast population that it carries. The future of China is anticipated to be that of the Soviet Union, that is, when the Proletariat class loses its belief in the ruling party, then the battle is automatically lost and as rightly said “To reject them is to reject the revolution. To attack them is to attack the revolution.
Their general direction of the revolution has never been wrong”. One of the main reasons why the Soviet Union’s Communist rule ended was also because the last ruler, Mikhail Gorbachev, was a Western Democrat. His political initiatives were affirmative towards freedom and democracy and the domestic reforms initiated by him, Perestroika and Glasnot, proved against him and therefore it led to the dissolution of the state. Similarly, China’s former Premier Wen Jiabao has made appealing statements as a start in two of his famous interviews on CNN.
The statements in 2008 were the need “to gradually improve the democratic election system,” “build an independent and just judicial system,” and have the government “accept oversight by the news media and other parties.” Consequently in the 2010 interview he accepted that “freedom of speech is indispensable,” and that “All political parties, organizations, and all people should abide by the constitution and laws without any exception.”
This proves as a start for the initiation of liberal ideology, heading towards democracy and setting an example for the future leaders as well as the citizens. The current economic scenario of China could be considered one step away from full-fledged capitalist economy. Mao’s beliefs and ideologies just exist merely by word of mouth, while in reality they are far from putting it into practice. There are many large industries, which are under the complete guidance of the state. But the inclination of the trend is profoundly increasing in the angle of a decentralized market economy and privatization.
This trend has created two major issues, whether democracy and free market policy can be separated in normal course and whether these widening income gaps still hold the unity, which China shared initially. Mr. Wang, a prisoner from the Tiananman Protests, rightly justifies the answer to the former question "The economy is looser than it was back in 1989, but politics are still tightly controlled, that's a contradiction: a liberalized economy and a rigid political system. It's a recipe for upheavals."
Compared to other countries, China’s demographics have been out of track and unpredictable. In other countries, the changes in the age structure are anticipated way before through their fertility and mortality rate and usually an irregular pattern is faced due to famine or war conditions, whereas in China the recent census of 2010 have shown a sudden drop in population growth. There were 116m people in between the age of 20 to 24; by 2020 the figures are expected to drop roughly by 20% and since the students are more inclined towards education, the number of workers will fall even more than that, which is further expected to drop by 60% around 2030 as compared to the 2010 census. The two major sources, i.e. high capital and cheap labor will be difficult to provide.
This anomalous trend will put the country in an economic crisis, and since China has already reached its peak, to maintain the same growth with less labor is contrary to reason regardless of any other factor. The “Made in China” model will not serve the purpose for the country’s growth and to provide enough pensions to the retirees, since the number will be shooting up highly. This implies that the tax load for every working person will hike up and there will be a determined and unavoidable voice from the public, which will demand for the accounts of the expenditure of his or her taxes in great amounts. T
he government will be in a difficult position and will be forced to serve the public more efficiently. As the economic growth inevitably slows down, and social unrest rises among the mob, the pressure for people getting politically involved will rise and eventually the way to democracy will be in sight. After all the factors kept in mind, the country will require cultural and educational reforms to increment its productivity and creativity in the market to set off the impact of the ageing society.
Chinese media, since decades, has been fluctuating in terms of its regulations and restrictions on subjects, which are considered unacceptable by the government. As one looks back, the media was most relaxed during the rule of the leader, Deng Xiapong and subsequently was immediately tightened as a consequence of the Tiannanmen Square Protest, 1989, where even the exact count of deaths had been hidden by the government when measures were taken to suppress the protest.
After a narrow relaxation by the preceding ruler, Jiang Zemin in the late 1990s, the current ruler, Hu Jintao owing to the sudden boost of Internet facilities and technology, once again controlled it closely. But one finally sees a ray of hope in this coming decade as China has made certain changes and opened its gates slightly for diverging opinions on subjects such as freedom of speech and human rights as Hu Jintao announced in the People’s Daily office about reporting any incident "accurately, objectively and uniformly reported, with no tardiness, deception, incompleteness or distortion".
This however still raises questions that is this information provided, guaranteed. As Sarah Cook, Asia Research Analyst said, "Most of what's reported is going to have to fit within a certain scope of censorship directives that are regularly issued by the Chinese government” when lately China’s news, the Xinhua and the China’s Daily, pushed into US. Beyond all these, the Chinese youth has already raised its voice and found, if not permanent, but an efficient way of spreading the news by “Weibo” posts which was proven in the scandal of the former Party Secretary of Chongqing. However, as an act of suppression, the police under the charge of spreading rumors online arrested six. Such minor events and incidents are a few factors, which create dissatisfaction and the inability to convey their opinion among the mass and depicts the social unrest in the country and shed light on the idea of democracy
. The existent social unrest is decentralized and largely on the local level in China as compared to the great uprising and the commendable protests accomplished in the Middle East during the Arab Spring or any other revolution. Though such events, at the same time are appearing as a threat or a predicament for the government and the authoritarian rule. As seen in China’s history, one of the most highlighting events, which took place, was the June Fourth Incident termed in Chinese or typically known as the Tiananmen Square Protests, 1989, a pre-democracy movement.
These protests were predominantly driven by the flaming youth of the country who were incontrovertibly college students. This breakdown had occurred on the night of 3rd and 4th with tens of thousands of demonstrators transgressing through at the Tiananmen Square in Beijing. A major hue and cry had struck due to the growing sentiments of the young university students for demanding more individual rights and freedom.
China at this point was meritoriously going ahead in its economic growth and many Chinese were undoubtedly exposed to Western ideas, but beyond this also the mass felt that there was price inflation and corruption at the government officials level. The demand was not only for political reform but also equally important, social and economical reforms. There was already resent in the minds of the public, and ironically, the death of a former CCP secretary, also referred as the ally of the intellectuals, Hu Yaobang, served to be the catalyst and provided a common cause to the fuming crowd.
However, the government ruthlessly approached this protest and commanded open fires and crushing whoever came in their way. The aftermath of the incident was a hard-line era for the people of China, which was eventually released. Other than negative impacts, it has embarked a deep scar in the hearts of the people and at the same time given a new reason for fighting back for ‘democracy’.
The probabilities of China being more liberal and taking the path of democracy have thus increased by viewing various factors. The events that took place for pre-democracy such as the Democracy Wall movement in 1978 and the June Fourth Massacre, such incidents that dwell amongst the history of China displays to the world at large that the citizens want a political reform;
China may have bottled such pro-democratic revolutions, it will not be long enough till the people of China create an upsurge due to the increasing social dissatisfaction towards the government. As evident, as we turn to every commodity that is easily viable in the market, there is a reason that most of them are labeled “Made in China” and therefore there is no looking back for China.
The only solution which will be in favor of China is that to learn from its past and amend its authoritarian rule for the benefit of the government as well as its people before an uprising devastates the country internally. If China sticks to its communist roots, a storm awaits its horizons, and it sooner or later the Communist form of government has to batten down its hatchets, because when it hits, China may disintegrate upon the heath, and an economy so well established may fall.
Reeti Agarwal BALLB - 2012 (Section – B)
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