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China Agenda 2024 Global Insights: China's governance system distinct from western paradigm

First Voice


Editor's Note: As China convenes its annual Two Sessions this year, CGTN's First Voice presents the "China Agenda 2024: Global Insights" video series, featuring exclusive interviews with international experts and offering a comprehensive understanding of China's global standing and its relations with the West. In this first episode of the series, we turn our attention to the intricacies of China's governance model and the trajectory of its progress. The views expressed in the video belong to the experts interviewed and do not necessarily reflect those of CGTN.

China's governance system has long been a subject of intense scrutiny and debate on the global stage. Western perceptions of China's governance model often lean towards skepticism, with many viewing it through the lens of authoritarianism versus democracy, overlooking the fact that democracy can't be painted with a broad brush but can manifest in different forms as is the case in China.

"The outside world has a very negative view of China's governance system," says Kerry Brown, director of the Lau China Institute at King's College London. "I often think people misconstrue and misunderstand China. They think it's all highly regulated and controlled and they don't really understand just how vast the governance system is and how complex the demands put upon it."

John Mearsheimer, a distinguished service professor of political science at the University of Chicago, advocates for respecting China's right to choose its political system without external interference. "The Chinese are entitled to have the political system that they want, and the United States should not run around the world telling other countries what kind of politics they should have," he adds criticizing Washington's tendency to impose its political model on other countries and its disparagement of China's political system amidst growing security competition.

"The United States believes that every country on the planet should look like the United States. And if that country doesn't look like the United States, there's something wrong with that country. And now that there's a security competition, the United States goes to great lengths to disparage, to criticize China's political model," notes Mearsheimer.

Brown acknowledges China's successes in governance. "[China] has managed to lift a lot of people out of poverty, it has managed to develop a very complicated country, build loads of infrastructure and deliver a fairly extensive middle class. And I think these shouldn't be dismissed; these are significant achievements."

Erik Solheim, former undersecretary-general of the United Nations, identifies three critical factors in China's governance success: dedicated political leadership focused on development, market-oriented economic policies, and a strong emphasis on education for citizen upliftment.

Whole-process people's democracy

China's governance model centers on the principle of whole-process people's democracy, emphasizing broad-based participation, meritocracy, grassroots empowerment, and deliberative decision-making. This approach challenges conventional Western paradigms and advocates for a unique blend of political leadership and market-oriented policies.

"China is not short of initiatives Since 2013, China has taken a direction towards development, collaboration, cooperation with the entire world. The Belt and Road Initiative is a real and a significant element of that policy," notes Mehri Madarshahi, former senior economist at the United Nations.

Despite misconceptions, China's governance system remains stable and adaptable, with different levels of governance tailored to specific contexts. Indeed, China's governance model emphasizes not just economic development but also social progress and upliftment, setting a remarkable example for the world.

"No nation in human history has developed as fast with so many people as China in the last four decades after the policy of reform and opening-up," says Solheim.

As China continues to assert its leadership on the global stage, its governance model serves as a testament to its remarkable socioeconomic progress. By embracing its unique approach to governance, China has emerged as a global leader in the 21st century, with decisions made during the Two Sessions shaping not only its future but also influencing the international community at large.

China's governance model represents a departure from traditional Western paradigms, emphasizing its commitment to whole-process people's democracy and socioeconomic development. As the world closely observes the outcomes of the Two Sessions, it becomes evident that China's governance decisions will have profound implications for its future trajectory and global relations.

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com. Follow @thouse_opinions on Twitter to discover the latest commentaries in the CGTN Opinion Section.)

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