Democracy? Dictatorship? Well, China…

People’s Daily Online — China issues white paper on political democracy

The authorities in Beijing have just published a white paper on how they see what they call democracy in China. Obviously, they felt the need for some sort of explanation.

In it we can read that ”China’s democracy is a democracy guaranteed by the people’s democratic dictatorship”. And it is made very clear that everything is done under the firm direction of the Chinese Communist Party and with ”democratic centralism” as one of the guiding principles.

But the document is not only an attempt to describe everything in rosy terms. We also learn that ”the democratic system is not yet perfect; the people’s right to manage state and social affairs, economic and cultural undertakings as masters of the country in a socialist market economy are not yet fully realized; laws that have already been enacted are sometimes not fully observed or enforced, and violations of the law sometimes go unpunished”.

So the document can be read either as a rather bizarre attempt to try to dress up the regime in some democratic dressing – an effort most unlikely to succeed – or as a way of saying that there is some limited room for change in the system.

Change there will have to be, sooner or later, in the one way or the other.

Whether this rather remarkable documents is intended to stop or promote change is a subject of debate.

The issue will certainly not go away.

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