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Op-Ed: The Western model of democracy is no longer the only game in town

By Curtis Stone (People's Daily Online)    16:49, March 20, 2018

After 18 days, China's most important annual political meetings, collectively known as the “Two Sessions,” has come to a successful conclusion, highlighting the advantages of Chinese-style democracy.

There is fear in the Western world about the health of its style of democracy. While the extent of the challenges is up for debate, a political model that has long been touted as the best is now being openly questioned and criticized, and rightly so. The amount of dysfunction in the West is not only alarming, but growing.

Perhaps nowhere is this crisis more evident than in the United States, which has long defined itself as a standard-bearer of democracy for the world. As a recent editorial in People’s Daily has pointed out, three “isms”: conservatism, isolationism, and populism are bubbling up in the United States, and the “China threat” is being grossly over-hyped.

The troubling trend gives us a clear picture of Western democracy’s health.

“The weakening of our democratic norms is rooted in extreme partisan polarization—one that extends beyond policy differences into an existential conflict over race and culture,” Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt argued in How Democracies Die. “And if one thing is clear from studying breakdowns throughout history, it’s that extreme polarization can kill democracies,” they added.

Extreme fragmentation and polarization are crippling American-style democracy. But the challenges run far deeper than the chaos in Washington, D.C. Cracks have been revealed in the Western model. “American democracy is not as exceptional as we sometimes believe, the two professors concluded.

On the contrary, China's socialist democracy has been proven to be effective in safeguarding the fundamental interests of the people. Unity of Party leadership, the people running the country, and law-based governance are are defining features of China’s socialist democracy.

Take China’s unique party system as an example. The multiparty cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) overcomes the extreme divisions and disagreements that are tearing the Western world apart.

Unlike the competitive and confrontational nature of Western politics, the CPC and eight other political parties work together under the guidance of the CPC to advance socialism and to improve the people’s living standards. The relationship maintains political stability and social harmony and ensures efficient policy making and implementation, which largely explains China’s astonishing growth and historic achievements.

At the closing meeting of the first meeting of the 13th National People’s Congress Tuesday morning, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that it is impossible for a divided and fractured nation to advance and that solidarity is power and the way to move forward. Indeed, the Chinese people have every reason to have confidence in the path, theory, system, and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Wu Chengliang, Bianji)

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