[India-China] Democracy in China: Why can’t it work?

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IAS Mock Interviews
  1. D1: Chinese Democracy won’t work, says Xi Jinping
  2. D2: Sino-Indian partnership in Afghanistan post NATO withdrawal

D1: Chinese Democracy = won’t work, says their President

Chinese President Xi Jinping recently stated that “multiparty system /democracy doesn’t suit China.”.
He gave following arguments:

  1. Every country has right to develop its own political system
  2. We tried Constitutional monarchy, imperial restoration, parliamentary system, a multi-party system and a presidential system.
  3. But none of them worked.
  4. Only Communist regime gave peace n prosperity to China.
  5. Our aim is to build a socialist market economy,
  6. We will uphold social equity and justice, promote all-round development of the people, pursue peaceful development.
  7. We should not copy the political system of west. They’re not suitable for China and will lead to catastrophic consequences.
  8. The fruit (of Democracy) may look the same, but the taste is quite different, Because of our unique historical and social conditions

(He made this speech during his official trip to Europe).

Background: Democracy in China- was there any?

1912Dr. Sun Yat Sen overthrew monarchy
from 30s to 40sNationalist government
1947
  • government formed a “Constitution” that provided for “Two-party system”. (like USA has- Democrats vs Republicans.)
  • But it did not work due to extreme hatred between Nationalist (under Chiang Kai Shek) versus communist party (under Mao)
1949
  • Nationalist government (Chiang Kai-shek) runs away to China while Mao establishes People’s republic of China under communist party.
80s
  • From the 80s, Chinese started a process of economic liberalization under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping.
  • Last year, Xi Jinping became the new President.
  • Many believed Xi will be the new avatar of Deng Xiaopoing.
  • While Xi Jingping did continue the economic liberalization but he too wants to maintain tight communist control over China and its people.
  • To avoid anti-corruption movements (like in Tunisia and elsewhere during Arab Spring)- he has taken tough action against corrupt politbureau members and their families.
  • But at the same time, he also took action to silence the civil society members- who were demanding transparency and ‘right to information’ type reforms.

(Interview Question) If you were the ambassador of India to China, would you agree/disagree with him that “Democracy in China- is impossible!” What will be your response to this conversation?

Points to consider:

  1. Growing economic liberalization = junta will become richer = demand for freedom and democracy will grow, especially among the younger generation.
  2. So it’ll be difficult to adopt economic reforms while simultaneously maintaining authoritarianism.
  3. Even the previous PM Wen Jiabao said that China needs to embrace democracy and political reforms- that alone will help redistribute the wealth more evenly among the Chinese people.
  4. Besides, democracy gives equal opportunity to its minorities living in its periphery. This will create an ameliorating situation in separatists in Uighur and Tibet region.
  5. So, in that way, China would be more peaceful internally than today without needing to use all its force and resources to quell those separatists’ movements.

D2: Sino-Indian partnership in Afghanistan post NATO withdrawal

Q. Discuss the obstacles & opportunities of Sino-Indian partnership in Afghanistan after NATO withdrawal. (200 words)

Obstacles

  1. China doesn’t perceive Afghanistan under Sharia law as a threat, they even opened communication with Afghan-Taliban.
  2. China’s main goal is not to preserve democracy in but to simply prevent extremism in Xinjiang while exploiting mineral resources of Afghanistan.
  3. On the other side, India want a democratic Afghanistan, free from clutches religious extremism.
  4. But Sino-Pak relation may also act as deterrent against Sino-Indian cooperation in Afghanistan.
  5. Pakistan does not want a powerful Afghanistan, as it will resurface demands of carving out pakhtoonistan from Western Pakistan.
  6. Economic development is panacea of social political trouble in Afghanistan. But Chinese investment ($200 ml) in is less than Indian ($3 billion).  So, if security concerns worsens China can afford to leave, while India will have to bear heavy losses.
  7. China wants Afghan dialogue through Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, but India is not a member of SCO.

Opportunities

  • Joint-infrastructure projects – roads and electricity
  • Provide alternative employment to opium farmers of Afghanistan through commercial farming.
  • Access to sea-ports through Karakoram highway.
  • Economic corridor- Afghan –Ladakh- Xinjiang – to boost Afghan economy
  • Joint Security corps in Afghanistan to prevent cross border terrorism.

The stability of Afghanistan is in the interest of both China and India, but their perspective to measure the gravity of the matter and the solution differ fundamentally. China and India can complement each other, as one as economic power and other as icon of good will in Afghanistan, to reconstruct Afghanistan for better future.

~240 words.
Ref: based on the EPW article “India, China and Coming US drawdown in Afghanistan”, April 5, 2013..
Visit Mrunal.org/Diplomacy for entire list articles on Diplomacy & International relations (IR) for Mains GS2 paper of UPSC Civil service Exam.

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