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What type of democracy China requires?
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16:04, February 04, 2008

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I addressed two sizeable-scake discussions of the recent five-day World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting held in the Swiss ski resort of Davos. One of my addresses is titled "Should the present world be carved up again" and the other topic was themed on the relationships between the United States, the European Union (EU) and China.

The two other speakers present at panel discussions were Harvard University Professor Joseph Nye, an ace U.S. global issues expert, and John Chipman, director general of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.

The implication of topics at both panel sessions is that the rise of China will change the look of the entire world and will it pitch in to carve up the world, and where its ties with the U.S. and EU are heading for? In history, China has neither been involved in carving-up of the globe, nor will it do so in the future. So I enunciated the nation's strategy of opening to the world, in which China will persevere in taking the road of peaceful development and persistently keep to the mutually-beneficial, win-win strategy, which was underscored in the report of the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) convened in mid October of 2007.

My speech arrested a wide-ranging attention of the meeting participants. And the word "democracy" was highlighted during panels at the end of the meeting. An executive chief of the Human Rights Watch abruptly cited China as a non-democratic nation. Since he had reprimanded China by name, so I have the right to explain or expound our stance fully, and underscore the following points:

First, democracy represents the outcome of human civilization and progress. And democracy was written on our flags when people rose in rebellion and, as people in China are currently working to build the socialism with Chinese characteristics, they are resolved to turn their country into a prosperous, democratic, highly-civilized and harmonious nation.

Second, there is not a singly universally applicable democratic mode, and the modes for the United States, Europe and Japan are also diverse and varied. The democratic mode has to gear to the specific conditions of a nation as conditions vary greatly from country to country, and so the realization of democracy in a country has to be adapted to its own specific national conditions.

Third, the development process of democracy in a nation is determined by its own economic growth conditions and its cultural backgrounds, and no external force whatsoever should be imposed upon it. The democracy in the U.S. and Europe at present onstitute the outcome of evolution for centuries. The U.S. won its independence in 1776, yet George Washington did not take office until 1789 when the first nationwide presidential election was held and it then only aroused four percent of the entire population in the U.S., as women, black people and those fail to pay their taxes were deprived of their right to vote. The American women did not win the right to vote until 1920 and, only by the 1960s, the civil rights movement was in the national consciousness and the black people attained their voting franchise.

The Great 1789 French revolution set forth such a slogan of "equality, freedom and the pursuit of happiness". Nevertheless, people would ask when the French women had won their right to vote. As a matter pf fact, it was however 156 years after the French women won their voting right, namely, in 1945. What I have said is not meant to embarras Americans or French people, but what I said is truth, and nothing but truth.

What outcome have some people wrought with a trying endeavor to "democratize" Africa in the post-cold war era, and have some people daring enough to come forward to bear their responsibilities? To date, some people still hold that China should act the same as Western nations and it would be considered wrong if it differs with them. As China's national conditions is different, then how can the democratic politics of China be identical with those of Western nations?

What should merits attention is the fact that my speech relating to democracy draw applause from the attendance, and I was the only the speaker who had drawn applause from attendance, which was commended by participants from some developing nations and also endorsed by partakers of some developed countries after the meeting. The International Herald Tribune, a prestigious US newspaper, has some parts of my speech printed on the paper.

The debate on democracy at Davos is really intriguing or profound in meaning, and so it seems that the entire world introspects on democracy at Davos, thus reflecting from a side aspect the in-depth changes the whole world is now undergoing.

By Wu Jianmin, a special guest commentator and president of China's Foreign Affairs University, and translated by People's Daily Online

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