Democracy with Chinese Characteristics – first buds?

Sometimes I find an article in the Chinese official media that seems, at first glance, to be of not great significance. Something keeps nagging at me and I go back and read and re-read it. In this article I wonder why the All-China Federation of Commerce and Industry is in this meeting. It is the organisation that manages all the company registrations in China.


What is a new type of party system?


China has long suggested that Western forms of multi-party democracy do not work for China. That arguing and fighting for power, and changing parties leading the nation, make for inefficiency and populist approaches.


China prefers to leave the core direction to the Chinese Communist Party and the results of the last 40 years supports that. The great fear of corruption and mission drift are assumed as the Party’s fundamental challenge which they must deal with to be successful. And this they have certainly corrected in the last 20 years with several journeys but now consolidated around SWCC – Socialism with Chinese Characteristics – and the institutionalised anti-Corruption mission.


Now they seem to be developing a broader approach to non-communist Parties being involved in making good decisions.


The reference to the ACFCI suggests it is a focus of the management of the private sector, bringing them to appreciate the role of that sector in the national plan. This is a key aspect of a socialist market economy. It frees the market to play its key role, and the private sector in innovation and modernising the economy, but it identifies the way that works, and does not work. Socialism orders the development of the means of production in the most effective ways. The capitalist system does some of that but leaves it more to the mercy of the market – hence the disproportionate growth of the financial sector in the last 30 years.


The linking of that with non-Communist Parties suggests there is a route for them to represent their experience and ideas into the system. I doubt this means that there will be a sudden big drop in business people at the Party Congress every five years, rather they will be encouraged to represent their ideas through non-communist parties.


Democracy with Chinese Characteristics – DCC – is likely to emerge in the next 10-15 years and we may be seeing the first new buds. It is likely to focus on building systems to work at issues and enable various groups to organise their contributions in a more organised fashion.


I do not think this is the beginning of multi-party democracy as we know it. China has shown their system delivers far faster and with greater effect. So I do not see them changing that system. But I do think they want to encourage more diversified involvement in reviewing ideas for policy at an earlier stage than the final stage. This helps avoid narrow approaches to the scientific approach in the Party.


They may travel abroad and there may be a tendency to see this as a way to build the Ambassadors for Western style democracy. I doubt that will be the result.


Recently there has been a tendency from the anti- China lobby to discredit the engagement approach in the West towards China by saying they naively  believed that it would lead to a more liberal democracy approach. I never read those people as thus. I think the engagement leaders believed that helping China develop was, and is , a duty, and that participating with that would lead to less conflict and more win-win outcomes.


They believed that the history of the world showed very different ways to develop and different systems. That a race to create vanilla would be wasted. That it was more important to gain trust and understanding to enable the differences to help advance and to manage differences which would surely occur. And to protect the core interests that the West felt were in their interest.


Now we can see the buds of DCC coming from China. It is what the engagement leaders of the West anticipated. They were, and are, among those who understand the great depth of Chinese culture and history and how it illuminates their path ahead. We should seek their assessments of these changes.


I will look for them. Peter Nolan’s works on this are very valuable although better read in China than the West, they are still available in places like Amazon.




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