Advantages of China's political system: Points for stability
Editor's note: As China's most important political gatherings, the Two Sessions, are drawing near, it's a good time to take a look at China's political system. Yang Zhusong, an assistant research fellow at the Institute for Contemporary China Studies at Tsinghua University, gives his views on the comparative advantages of China's political system in relation to others around the world. Here is "Points for stability", the first article in the "Advantages of China's political system" series.
Two conditions are required for a system to run continuously and effectively. Firstly, it must originate from the specific environment it operates in rather than being a simple replica from elsewhere. Secondly, it should be capable of responding to changes in the external environment in a timely manner and carry out necessary and sensible reforms. This requires a regime to possess adequate self-awareness, to be able to clearly identify where the effectiveness of its own system comes from, and then indicate what can be changed and what cannot be changed in reforming the system.
China has a fairly sound political system. "China's socialist political system has proved itself feasible, efficient and has vitality because it was developed in the country's social soil," Chinese President Xi Jinping pointed out, adding that "The key to developing socialist democracy is expanding rather than weakening our advantages and characteristics."
What are the comparative advantages of this system over American democracy? Here, we will try to find out the answer from different aspects.
First, provision of national public welfare products for the people ensures a good national order. These products and services are essential to promote and protect the well-being of all citizens nationwide. Although many of them are invisible and intangible, everyone needs them all the time. If a political power cannot establish a national order or faces difficulties in maintaining the existing order for a long time, then it's impossible for it to hold its ruling position or make any progress in national governance.
The "stability" of the national order involves all aspects of politics, economy and society, of which political stability is the most fundamental. Political stability is reflected not only in the institutionalization of the country's political activities, but also in the continuity of the ruling ideology, development goals, development plans and major national and international policies.
For developing countries like China, if political instability leads to regime change, economic stability and social stability would also cease to exist. It is not difficult to understand why countries that have gone through "color revolution" inevitably plunged into a chaotic situation marked by soaring prices, shortage of essential supplies, frequent violent conflicts and a precarious state of life and property.
Among the world's major powers and political parties, the Communist Party of China, in particular, cherishes the stability of political order. From a historical point of view, as a result of foreign invasion, China before 1949 experienced long-term political turmoil and frequent wars, which made it difficult to boost its economy and improve people's livelihood, leaving Chinese people with indelible tragic memories.
In reality, the ultra-large population of 1.4 billion means that a stable political order is harder to come by in China. The one-party rule system determines that the mission of establishing and maintaining order can only be undertaken by the Communist Party of China.
From a theoretical point of view, the ability to establish and maintain an effective internal order can be viewed as the "coercive capacity" of a nation, which is the most important of all national capacities. However, a strong and effective state capacity is of a higher priority than the rule of law and democratic accountability in a country's political development process.
From the above three aspects, we can see the underlying logic of China's political system is to ensure the supply of public welfare products to its people. In order to better maintain the national order. On one hand, the Communist Party of China has increased its investment in national defense to build a strong army to handle external provocations, while on another, China continues to build a strong ruling party and improve the Party's ability to rule so as to be competent for the arduous task of governing China as an emerging economic power.
In stark contrast, in many countries in the world today, turmoil and conflicts have become the norm, and a stable political and social order has become elusive.
In North America, although Donald Trump was elected president of the U.S., the election process and a series of policies introduced since he came into power are aggravating tensions and conflicts between different groups of the American society.
In Western Europe, the rise of right-wing populists caused by the arrival of refugees in France, the Netherlands and other countries has had an impact on their political elections. Several countries have also been troubled by the "Yellow Vest" movement and large-scale riots as well as terror threats from the "Islamic State".
There are also many countries where military coups and interference with politics have been commonplace for a long time. Some countries are even torn apart by warlords and have gone through years of civil wars. Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria are still mired in bloody terrorism after previous regimes were toppled by the U.S., and people's livelihood has become the biggest casualty of war.
Looking around the world, it's comforting to see China standing out as a stable and safe nation.
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