The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is bit modified.
In an act of self-aggrandizement, an editorial in China’s official publication People’s Daily has termed western democracy a grand illusion. Comparing situation in China with political chaos prevailing in the US with election of Donald Trump as the president and declaring China’s political system unique for lifting millions of Chinese out of poverty, the editorial has slammed western democracy saying it is always just one step away from tragedy.
The editorial questions the US model of democracy and writes that ‘China’s official argument is that the US elevates itself as a model of democracy in order to spread its interpretation of democracy to other countries in an attempt to make the world in its own image.’
It says the 2016 US presidential election has shown the perils of western democracy ‘revealing the dark side of so-called democracy in the US.’ Taking its agenda to show western democracies in poor light further, citing some studies in the way it suits its agenda, the editorial says that “the modern history of western democracy is one of decline and fall and most democracies failed and there is a growing dissatisfaction with western democracy itself, not just in America but around the world.”
Whereas the world knows how ruthless is the one-party autocratic rule of China. China is known as a country that massacred its own students in the Tiananmen Square incident for demanding political reforms. China is a county that crushes every voice of dissent including even artists and Nobel laureates. China’s human rights record is awfully horrible. Free and fair elections are undisputed hallmark of democracies, something that China has never seen under its communist rule.
Though the editorial rightly points to the ensuing political chaos in the US with Donald Trump’s controversial policy movements like replacing national health insurance policy unveiled by Barack Obama with his controversial health insurance plan that will leave millions of Americans out of its ambit or his controversial travel ban plan targeting Muslims or his decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Deal, it forgets China’s own poor track record while painting an established model of democracy in a negative hue.
The editorial doesn’t mention Chinese crackdown on Uyghur Muslims of its Xinjiang province for demanding freedom to practice their religion. Ramadan is prohibited for them and so calling their children with religious Muslim names. The editorial doesn’t mention how China throws its millions of poor out of its megacities to build a world class Beijing or Shanghai. The editorial doesn’t mention that How Hong Kongers are vehemently opposing Chinese efforts to introduce mainland education system in the island city that was a British colony with British law and western education system. Though Hong Kong was transferred to Chinese control in 1997, the British-Chinese agreement says that China cannot interfere to impose its socialist system in Hong Kong for 50 years.
While talking of growing dissatisfaction with western democracies, the editorial very conveniently forgets to mention that how Donald Trump is seeing lowest approval ratings within few months of his inaugural because of controversies surrounding him, that how France elected an unknown Emmanuel Macron over far-right Marine Le Pen to preserve its democratic spirit, that how Britain rejected PM Theresa May’s inward looking policies by taking away her government’s majority in the recently held elections. A democratic spirit grows stronger with equal participation of people in its trial and error process that challenges throw, something that was never given to Chinese people.
Democracies are built on these founding principles, political and religious freedom, rule of law and legal equality, building blocks of a democratic society totally unheard of in one-party rule autocratic China. Chinese people have no political and religious freedom. Legal equality and rule of law is on mercy of Chinese power elite. It serves as long as they keep on squeezing their life within the strict norms laid out by the Chinese Communist Party. The editorial’s argument, “whether the shoes fit or not, only the wearer knows”, quoting Chinese president Xi Jinping, reflects the unilateral world view of Chinese power elite.