Posted: March 18th, 2022

Scholars understand the quality and prospects

¶ … scholars understand the quality and prospects of “democracy” in China?


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Many people have different views concerning the exact nature of democracy. Scholars believe that democracy entails the act of the society choosing its own leaders to implement decisions, held responsible through elections, for the public. Others emphasize that democracy entails the rule by the people, in which the will of the people lies with the supernatural being. Nevertheless, while democracy may have varied meanings depending on every individual’s definition, it is with certainty that if democracy shall prevail, ideas must flow, both from the majority and the minority. In absence of free flow of ideas, there will be absence of democratic ideal of governance by people if people are unaware of the occurrences. In the republic of China, some people knew this.




China reforms are developing very fast. Her exceptional political growth model is not only divergent from the traditional Soviet Union Socialist form, but also deviates from the Western liberal autonomous style. The Chinese political structure challenges the classic liberal democratic theory in Western literature and doubts the aspect of democracy by asking questions like:


Is democracy a general value for all humanity? Does a non-liberal form of democracy actually survive? These concerns also take in the most severe arguments about Chinese democratic reform within China since its foundation in 1949. This political dialogue in China focuses in questions like: What is the connection between democracy and social modernization? Is western-style democracy applicable in China? Does china have a model of democracy? Is democracy and opportunity or a challenge for the Chinese? Lastly, how do scholars understand the quality and prospects of “democracy” in China?


Chinese leaders are reluctant on the political system used in China and pay less attention on aspects of democracy like the western countries. The western countries are highly endorsing on local elections, judicial independence, and oversight of Chinese Communist Party officials. It is unclear how far the Chinese liberalization will eventually go and how the Chinese politics will resemble after attaining democracy. As scholars assert, China conducts elections in choosing her leaders, both in the different stages of People’s Congresses up to the NPC and in village-level direct elections. Above that, there are other more significant things besides elections. This essay discusses the quality and prospects of “democracy” in China.


Quality and Prospects of Democracy in China


China is in the verge of establishing a democratic system and ending up the autocratic governance. For the past 100 years, democratic movement in China has undergone through numerous reform with the intention of forming a quality system of governance that will include every citizen without any biasness. In other words, China governance has various loopholes that require immediate amendments in order for the citizens to enjoy democracy. One of the Chinese democratic pioneers, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen described democracy as an unavoidable stage in the growth of civilization. He addressed the Chinese people and affirmed to them that democratic trend us enormous and mighty. He said that individuals play a bigger role in growth and development of democracy, and they determine its success. In other words, people have power to establish and kill democracy.


As a scholar, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen established the Nationalist Party (or Kuomintang), and played a significant role in advocating for democratic revolution in Chinese History. The revolution was very powerful that overthrew the Qing Dynasty and the final Chinese emperor, founding the original Republic of China (ROC). However, despite Suns’ endeavors nurture the democratic revolution, ROC China dominated, whereby China experienced temporal restoration of the overthrown monarch, followed by a de facto tyrannical rule by Sun’s Nationalist successors. They finally lacked support from the Chinese Citizens and instead thrown away from the mainland by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Undeniably, the main reason why the CCP could triumphal over the Kuomintang during the final Civil war was for democratic reasons.


The foundation of the CCP accentuated on the need for democracy, especially Chen Duxiu, who was a strong leader in the democratic movements discussed in the contemporary Chinese history. Chairman Mao Zedong also advocated for democratic governance in China. He is a scholar who systematically illustrated the guiding policies that would develop democratic governance in China. He chaired the CCP, which founded the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. Formation of this democratic movement was a significant milestone in the Chinese History on democracy. In essence, these democratic activists had different version in the way they understood the prospects of democracy. They affirmed that it is only through democracy that governments can survive removal from authority without any concrete reasons since democracy could generate national goal of tremendous transformation.


This is true because after the 1949, the CPP engaged in great exploration with the intention of advocating for democracy in China. This attempt contributed in generating numerous outstanding achievements, for instance, eradicating feudalistic hierarchy and freedom, equating gender differences, and ensuring poor employees and farmers are engaged in national administration. Even though, scholars and other activists may hugely contribute to ensuring that the country runs through democratic governance, there are few challenges that act as drawbacks to impede democracy. China suffered after the 1949 whereby, her democracy reverted into a rigorously degraded circumstance.


The Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution, headed by Mao Zedong destroyed the entire democratic structure and legal development and ended in complete autarchy. The democratic structure required reformation and amendment of the guiding principles, and Deng Xiaoping, who initiated a new epoch in Chinese democracy, carried out this role. China began experiencing democratic reforms in 1978 and this facilitated growth and development of Chinese Economy at a very high rat, and this was like a miracle in the contemporary world economic history. This is because very few countries were capable of tolerating the challenges associated with democratic revolution. From 1978 to 2008, Chinese GDP grew at a very high rate. Statistics indicate that during the 30 years period GDP elevated from 364.5billion yuan (approximately 50.1 billion USD at 2010 exchange rate) to 30.067 trillion yuan (about 4.295 trillion USD).


In addition, the mean yearly growth rate surpassed 9% and the GDP per capita rose from 381 yuan (about 54.3 USD) to 22,600 yuan (approximately 3,228.57 USD. This huge growth made the nations comprehensive strength to increase and take a third position in the global world. According to the western scholars, they believed that the transformation of China’s democracy and building up of policies only attained huge accomplishment concerning economic modernization without any essential development in political democratization. Some scholars furthered their research and claimed the reason for the Success of Chinese economic modernization was that China lacked any accompanying democratic reforms. Soviet Union exemplifies the reason for the success of modernization, whereby the speed at which democratization reforms used surpassed the speed of economic modernization.


These evaluative observations overlooked the reality that Chinese Reform and implementation was dealing with a large number of people, nearly the entire nation. If there are any changes that are unusual to such a large population, they could result to exceptional sufferings to hundreds of millions, as well as negatively influence economies and trade associates both regionally and globally. Chinese modernization is an incorporated multi-level social change process, which includes both the huge economic growth and great political and cultural progress. The political momentum to economic success was essentially more imperative in China’s transformation than in any other western countries.


Scholars who have a deep understanding of the Chinese social and historic traditions clearly asserted, “Politics is the commander, the soul, and the bloodline of all economic tasks.” If China lacked a political reform structure, China’s modernization would have failed. This is a fact that is evident from the historical and record — setting advancement made in the course of Chinese reform and opening up-era. China’s reform and opening — up procedure was originated from imperative political reform three decades ago.


In East Asia, particular, China, popular support for democracy relies on whether the citizenry experience that political institutions produce an acceptable quantity of democracy and provide a satisfactory level of quality governance. Similarly, the seeming quality of democracy is also created by what citizens expect out of and demand from their political leaders. The development of democratic legitimacy is also formed by some short-term issues, such as economic performance, as well as by some long-term factors, such as values Change. It is significant to acknowledge that citizens in East Asian democracies are capable of distinguishing between the political and economic dimensions of government performance.


This means a high number of citizens accept the valued of democracy for the political goods it provides even when its economic performance is thought to be slothful. This is a significant issue because most of the developing democracies are likely reluctant to repeat their history on miraculous growth.


Over the long-term, the country overall capability in the provision of a steady and strong economic environment is sternly affected by the forces of globalization. For Chinese citizens, of all of the things citizens expect out of liberal democracy, nothing is more significant than the provision of clean politics. However, also the element is most lacking in practically all East Asian third-wave democracies. This proposes that all East Asian democracies require swift attempts to strengthen the legal preclusion against the corruption of elected politicians.


They require thorough policies on campaign finance and financial disclosures to seize the infringement of money politics.


Consequently, it is very important to reinforce the independence and integrity in the judicial branch making it less vulnerable to political influence. In absence of a systematic, clean up on the un-ethnical conducts of elected politician remains a subtle goal. In the future, there is a need to conduct more research on strategies to develop democratic quality. Drawing on experiences of China, one can pick out at least three significant set of elements that are linked with the quality of democracy. First, are the political elite matters? Absence of strong dedication of a country’s noteworthy leaders of opinion, culture, business, and social organizations, and all key leaders of government and politically important parties to democratic norms and procedures is a sure way for having low quality of democracy. Second, is the mass political culture matter? If most citizens confidently support the standard of freedom and rights protection, limited government, democratic accountability, and rule of law, state officials will have to abide by the rules of good democracy. State officials infringing human being freedom and/or indulging in unlawful practices and dishonesty will definitely be anxious about replacement during the elections. Lastly, civil societies play a central task in determining the quality of democracy. A powerful civil society and a culture of civil engagement are fundamental in shaping politicians and parties’ incentives. Under such situation, the civil society as a whole is more probable to produce strong constrains on state officials.




Chinese leadership has held out the pledge of some form of democracy to the people of China for nearly 100 years. After China’s, last empire, the collapsing of Qing was in 1911. For this reason, Sun Yat-sen proposed a three-year epoch of provisional military rule, subsequent to a six-year period of “political tutelage,” to direct the country’s transformation into a complete constitutional republic. In 1940,, Mao Zedong introduced an element he referred as “new democracy,” in which authority by the Communist Party would guarantee the “democratic dictatorship” of the revolutionary groups over class adversaries.


Moreover, Deng Xiaoping, leading the nation out of the anarchy of the Cultural Revolution, affirmed that democracy was a “main condition for liberating the mind. In their application of the word, “democracy,” Sun, Mao, and Deng each had a varied definition at their own capacities as scholars. According to Sun’s definition — Sun’s definition — which envisaged a legitimate government with collective suffrage, free elections, and separation of powers — was almost similar to a definition provided in the West. Through their actions, Mao and Deng indicated that regardless of their terms, such concepts were less significant to them. Still, the three scholars accepted that democracy was not a dead end itself but rather a device for attaining China’s real intention of becoming a country that is self — autonomies and free from external pressures from external powers. Democracy eventually foundered under the three leaders. When Sun died, in 1925, warlordism and disunity still overwhelmed numerous parts of China. During his time, Mao showed less concern in democracy than in class struggle, mass movements, continuous revolution, and keeping his adversaries off balance. In addition, Deng established on a number of occasions — most radically in holding back the Tiananmen demonstrations of 1989 — that he would allow popular democratic movements surpass party rule or compromise his plan for national development.


Today, of course, China is still not democratic. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has a control on political power, and the country lacks freedom of speech, an independent judiciary, and other essential attributes of a pluralistic liberal system. Many inside and outside Chinese governments remain dubious about the predictions for political reform. Yet there is a lot-taking place inside the government, in the CCP, in the economy, and in society — that could transform Chinese perceptions about democracy and transform China’s political future.




Yu-tzung Chang and Yun-han Chu. 2002. Confucianism and Democracy: Empirical Study of Mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.


Yu-tzung Chang, Alfred Hu, and Yun-han Chu. 2002. The Political Significance of Insignificant Class Voting: Taiwan and Hong Kong Comparison.


Albritton, Robert B. And Thawilwadee Bureekul. 2002. Support for Democracy in Thailand.


Robert Albritton, and Thawilwadee Bureekul. 2002. The Role of Civil Society in Thai Electoral Politics.


Jose Abueva and Linda Luz Guerrero. 2003. What Democracy Means to Filipinos.


Robert Albritton, Thawilwadee Bureekul and Gang Guo. 2003. Impacts of Rural-Urban Cleavages and Cultural Orientations on Attitudes toward Elements of Democracy: A Cross-National, Within-Nation Analysis.


Eric C.C. Chang, Yun-han Chu, and Fu Hu. 2003. Regime Performance and Support for Democratization.


Yun-han Chu, Yu-tzung Chang and Fu Hu. 2003. Regime Performance, Value Change and Authoritarian Detachment in East Asia.

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