Li Zhaoxing’s Common-Sense Fallacy— ‘Direct elections difficult to implement in China’
By He Qinglian
Modified version of the Epoch Times translation.
Li Zhaoxing, a spokesman for the fifth session of the 11th National People’s Congress, dubbed the two meetings, delivered a fatal blow to the “political reform” fantasy propagated by regime leaders in recent years.
At a press conference on March 4, before the opening of the meeting, Li started out by commenting positively on direct elections, but then switched and said a direct election system across the country is not suitable for China.
“In view of China’s vast size, its large population, its unbalanced economic and social development, and the inconvenient transportation [system] in some areas, it is not convenient, it is difficult to implement direct election,” Li said.
Li also said China’s election system “is a combination of direct and indirect elections and suits China’s national conditions.”
Li’s remarks have delivered a fatal blow to the “political reform” fantasy spread recently by [state controlled] People’s Daily and Xinhua through slogans such as “better a word of complaint than a situation of risk.”
The so-called “direct elections” in China are nothing more than a political game under the tight control of the Communist Party’s local committees. To qualify, local candidates must receive prior endorsement from the local party committee and government officials.
We have seen hundreds of independent candidates attempting to run for elections at the local level facing harassment of various forms. Direct elections across the country, under a one-party regime, cannot be implemented because, quoting Li, they don’t suit “China’s national conditions,” to say nothing of political reform that would pave the way for democracy.
Yet Li Zhaoxing’s remarks are so absurd that one cannot help but wonder whether Li, China’s former Ambassador to the U.S., who is considered the westernizing faction’s elite within the CPC, described by media as “iron mouth” and “poetic diplomat,” and who has degrees from various prestigious universities in China, has any common sense.
There are countries larger in size than China, such as the United States, Russia, Canada, and India, where democratic systems built upon direct popular elections have been implemented. Although Russia has not attained as great a level of democratic achievement as others, as a result of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s preference in political tricks, the country is determined to implement serious direct elections. Furthermore, Russia is a much colder country, and I mention this now in a hope that in the future, government spokespeople like Li Zhaoxing will not try to use excuses like “it’s too hot or too cold, and the people will not want to go out under a burning sun or struggle in the wind and snow to vote,” in an attempt to justify why China cannot have direct elections.
In response to Li’s argument that direction election is not suitable for China as its regional economic development is uneven, I want to point out the regional economic development in the U.S. is also uneven. To use terms that the Chinese are familiar with to describe different parts of the U.S., the northern part of the country may be referred to as the “first world,” the western part the “second world,” and the southern part the “third world.” As conditions in these three regions vary, the levels of their respective economic development and industrial structure are considerably different. To adjust this imbalance, the U.S. federal government has adopted various fiscal measures and achieved outstanding results. The same “imbalance” also exists in other countries, such as the United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany.
If direct voting should be held only on the day the economic social development is balanced, as Li Zhaoxing seems to imply, there would not be any democratic country, and no system of universal suffrage anywhere in the world.
Li’s comments made no sense; they were nothing but propaganda aimed to maintain Beijing’s one-party authoritarian rule.
Since the “reform and opening up,” in order to protect the interests of the one-party rule from being ruined by political reforms, and to ensure that the power and special interests are smoothly handed down to their offspring, Beijing and its clique have devised numerous reasons why a democratic system is not suitable for China.
Their favorite excuses have been that China’s economic foundation is too frail, and the best time to carry out democracy is when the economy is fully developed. During the last decade China has become an economic power, and its GDP even ranks second in the world, so the “economy” reasoning is now no longer quoted.
Presently, the pretext to withhold direct elections is “people’s quality is too low,” meaning that Chinese people’s education level is too low to let them vote.
During the last few years, Premier Wen Jiabao has often pledged reform. In Dec. 2003, during a speech at Harvard University, he was asked when China would begin the reforms. Wen answered, “Chinese people are not ready.”
Some people have argued that when the U.S., Taiwan, and India implemented democracy, the education level of their citizens were far lower than that of today’s Chinese. And some sympathetic people have said we should give Hu and Wen, the leaders of this generation, a little time.
Now that Hu and Wen are going to step down soon, the “silver-tongued diplomat” Li Zhouxing shows up with the rhetoric “a vast territory and a large population,” which have long been hyped up as China’s greatest advantages during Mao’s rule, and now become the reason for the regime’s inability to implement democratic reform.
Beijing could not come up with a legal explanation for not making the reform; even the silver-tongued Li could do nothing but blabber.
The real reason that the communist regime does not want to implement democratic reform and create a system of “direct election and supervision by the people,” is that such a system will end the rule of communist China’s self-interested groups which tend to serve themselves and the CPC can no longer wantonly loot the state treasury and illicitly transfer economic and political interests among themselves after such a system is in place.