Is China a Democracy?



This question surprises most of us. Surely no one thinks that China is a democracy! It is ruled by a single party. It is a tyranny! 


Or is it?


What is the essence of democracy? People voting to elect once every few years? Multiple parties and people openly competing for power? Or the opinions of different groups of people influencing decision making?


The essence of democracy lies in an abundance of ideas and thoughts in the society. There is constant interaction and struggle between these ideas. The best ideas for society get implemented as decisions with input coming from all streams. The ideas are the rulers in a true democracy rather than people. 


All present societies at present are a mixture of oligarchy and democracy. They are democratic to the extent that several an exchange of thoughts and ideas occurs. There is a struggle between opposing ideas with a decision being taken with inputs from all the streams of thought. But the problem is that the ideas emanate from only a few elite. 


If we compare modern USA and China the most striking feature is that common people in both countries do not have any say over decision making. The government is in no way obliged to abide by the people’s will. 


Both can be called oligarchies. In the US the major decision at the national level are not initiated by the legislature i.e. congress but by the federal government. The President and the secretaries are continuously influenced by several lobbies. These lobbies and interests correspond to those of major industrial and business groups. They compete and align with each other as the situation demands.


It is the interaction between the executive government, including elected representatives like the President and bureaucrats, on the one hand and the private lobbies and powerful interests that leads to decisions. The decisions are in a way imposed on the legislature. The same pattern is present across the world. 


But does this mean the US is a tyranny? Clearly NO.


The vast number of freedoms and rights enjoyed by its citizens proves the contrary.


The decision making process in China doesn’t differ much from that of the US. The same applies Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. They are “democracies” in the sense that they have elections every few years. But they are all very similar to China in the way decisions are made and take very little input from the people at large.


This is also the reason why countries like Thailand between to and fro between being a dictatorship and a “democracy”. Whether they have elections or not, the decision making process is the same in these countries. All these countries simultaneously have democratic and authoritarian, oligarchic shades with levels of variations.


As of now economic freedoms are good in China. In fact only if the freedom of speech expression was given to Chinese people at the same scale as in the USA, there wouldn’t be any difference between the US and China. The influence that society at large has on decision making in the US, which is small and indirect, comes from the freedom of expression.

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