China’s Political Commissars

China, on the other hand, is inexperienced in democracy. The People’s Republic of China had been a communist state since it was founded in 1949 (Ezzamel, Xiao & Pan, 2007). Only a couple of decades ago did China officially abandon communism as the state ideology for Leninism. Just like Cuba and the Soviet block, China went through a period of economic ruin during the communism era and had difficulties restarting its economy following the collapse of communism. According to Tsang (2010), a lot has changed in the country since the shift from communism.

These changes are evident in the country’s judicial system, ease of cross-border travel and interaction with foreigners, access to information, infrastructural development, ease of conducting business and, equally importantly, availability and access to consumer services and goods (Tsang, 2010). Within that short period, China has changed from an internationally-isolated and lowly-regarded country to the world’s fastest growing economy. The private owned economy has expanded consistently while the state-owned economy has been on the decline (Siyuan, 2007).

Although it is still difficult to start a business in China, it is much easier to do business in the country. Out of 183 economies, China is ranked as 89th in terms of ease of doing business (The International Finance Corporation, 2010). The availability of cheap labour and highly-skilled labour in China has attracted hundreds of multi-national corporations to start operations in China, bringing the country much-needed foreign direct investment, technology and revenue. But in many ways, China is still a prisoner of its communist past.

The ruling Communist Party, although credited with keeping China united and bringing economic prosperity and development to China, maintains a modified Leninist political system which shares many characteristics with communism. China’s Communist Party “vehemently rejects democracy” in favour of “Chinese democracy” (Tsang, 2010). While rejecting capitalism or “poor socialism,” China argues that it favours “developed socialism with high productive forces to make China wealthy and strong” (Ezzamel, Xiao & Pan, 2007).

Although the government is more sensitive to public demands and has expanded the people’s democratic space, the Communist Party still protects its political supremacy aggressively (Kondapalli, 2005; Tsang, 2010). Political opposition is not tolerated in China as it is perceived as a threat to the strength of the Communist Party. Critics of the party are either arrested and tortured, or forced to seek refuge in other countries. The Communist Party’s urge to maintain control and supremacy in the country inspires China’s leadership to limit people’s democratic space and to vet businesses to keep real or perceived threats away.

Players in the information technology industry and journalists have great difficulties conducting business in China. This is primarily because they involve much cross-border exchange of information and the government is not always able to scrutinize the information and okey what is broadcast across China and to the international market. Google, the award-winning search engine has had problems operating in China and had earlier this year threatened to withdraw its operations in China.

Journalists also face challenges penetrating and reporting in China as their work is closely monitored to ensure that only what the government approves of is broadcast. Compared to the United States, it is more difficult to conduct business in China mostly because of the state’s hostility towards anything that is perceived as a possible threat to the political supremacy of the Communist Party. Conclusion In terms of individual freedom and democracy, the United States and the People’s Republic of China are worlds apart.

Although China has made big strides towards increasing freedom to its people, personal freedom is still limited and is withdrawn rapidly if one is perceived as a threat to the leadership. State intervention in personal and business life makes it difficult to conduct business in China compared to the United States. Conducting business in China offers advantages which include access to a huge pool of cheap labour, as well as highly skilled labour. However, one has to convince the government that their business will be in no way threaten the state.

The vetting opens very wide avenues for corruption, which can make business operations more expensive. China’s history of democracy means that those doing business in the country can have their licences withdrawn anytime if they, or their countries, are seen as a threat to China. References Eichner, M. (2007). Marriage and the Elephant: The Liberal Democratic State’s Regulation of Intimate Relationships Between Adults. Harvard Journal of Law & Gender, Vol. 30: pp 29-66. Ezzamel, M. , Xiao, J. & Pan, A. (2007). Political Ideology and Accounting Regulation in China. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 32: pp 669-700.

Kondapalli, S. (2005). China’s Political Commissars and Commanders: Trends & Dynamics. Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies Singapore, No. 88. Lukes, S. (2005). Liberal Democratic Torture. B. J. Pol. S. 36: pp 1-16. Ryn, C. (2003). The Ideology of American Empire. Orbis (Summer 2003) pp 383-397. Siyuan, C. (2007). Comparison of Rates of Growth. Chinese Law and Government, Vol. 40, No. 6: pp 38-42. The International Finance Corporation (2010). Doing Business 2010: China. Washington, D. C. : The World Bank. Tsang, S. (2010). Consultative Leninism: China’s New Political Framework? China Policy Institute, Policy Paper 58.