Need one be a genius to spot the cynicism here?
China has contributed $1 million to help organize Sunday’s election in Iraq, raising questions at home and abroad about how a country that supports balloting in another land can deny its citizens a chance to vote for their leaders.
As China gains a growing role on the global political and economic stage, it increasingly faces such twists of logic. So far, Chinese officials seem undeterred by the apparent contradiction.
“They behave as a normal power on the international scene, but keep a lid on everything at home at the same time, blocking websites and preventing free expression,” said Jean-Philippe Beja, a China specialist at the Center for International Studies and Research in Paris. “Elections are all right in other countries, as long as they’re not done at home. And it works. That’s what’s incredible. It’s very cynical.”
The article later gets to the heart of the matter, which is that China is proclaiming its love of free elections (in Iraq, anyway) to curry favor with the US and continue its repression in Xinjiang without criticism from Bush. Love of fredom and democracy scarcely enters the equation.
The article makes some other fine points, so pardon me for snipping a large portion for your reading pleasure:
Elections won’t work in China because the masses aren’t wealthy or well-educated enough to understand the issues, Chinese officials often argue. Elections are at odds with 5,000 years of Chinese history and, anyway, the country already has a democracy with socialist characteristics, they say.
It’s becoming more difficult, however, to argue that the people lack the necessary income and education when the nation’s performance is rising on both counts. Meanwhile, more impoverished Indonesia recently pulled off an impressive peaceful transfer of power; and India, with its lower literacy rate, remains the world’s largest democracy.
“Two years ago I went to Cambodia, which is poorer than China, and watched a very good election,” said Li Fan, director of the World and China Institute, a Beijing think tank focused on rural democracy. “It’s a silly argument.”
The idea that Chinese are precluded from voting by their history tends to buckle with a glance 100 miles across the Taiwan Strait. Beijing often cites Taiwan’s bumpy electoral ride since 2000 to bolster its case, but the island’s citizens chalk this up to inexperience, not some cultural predisposition to authoritarian rule.
“China is still under a Communist regime, so they focus on Taiwan’s negatives for their propaganda,” said Lin Wen-Cheng, a professor with Zhongshan University’s Mainland Research Institute in Taipei. “Our democracy is not yet mature, but we’re confident we’ll overcome that. With Taiwan maturing as a democracy, they have no argument.”
China’s last refuge is often in the argument that it already is a democracy with socialist characteristics and that the Communist Party enjoys widespread support that makes elections unnecessary.
Even insiders acknowledge, however, that party corruption and arrogance are an enormous source of popular resentment. In addition, the system of one person, one vote is carefully restricted to sectors of the political process where no real decision-making power exists, namely villages and a few towns in the countryside and neighborhoods in the cities.
Critics say the real reason China lacks elections is that the Communist Party doesn’t want to be voted out and, after decades of absolute rule, is distrustful of any process it can’t control.
Critics say the Communist Party wants to hold onto power? Well, I’ll be damned. But then, what do critics know? Obviously they don’t watch CCTV. The CCP only wants to ban elections for the good of the people, who “aren’t ready” to vote. How can we thank the CCP enough for their loving protection and magnanimous concern for its people’s well being?
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.