All roads lead to democracy

(Xinhua) 15:26, December 10, 2021

BEIJING, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) -- In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville embarked on a journey to a nascent democracy of his time -- the United States. He soon figured that a recipe for well-functioning institutions there was the tradition of local democracy.

The arrangement of basing township institutions on local conditions frequently represented democracy at its best, the French thinker and historian argued in his classic "Democracy in America."

Indeed, a right path towards democracy must be built on the conditions of a specific community, and there is never a fixed paradigm, as is proven by history.

Nonetheless, the past century saw the Western democracy, which is rooted in the Western soil, widely exported through various means -- bloodshed or infiltration -- a process described as "waves of democratization" by U.S. political scientist Samuel Huntington.

After the Cold War, Washington's ascension to a dominant superpower rendered it so much obsessed with bringing its own democratic model abroad. In the past decades, Washington has launched numerous so-called "democratic experiments" in Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia as well as in West Asia and North Africa.

Behind the Arab Spring, which started with street protests in Tunisia in December 2010 but finally engulfed the whole Arab world, were individuals and groups trained and financed by U.S. organizations, such as the National Democratic Institute, leaving Syria and Yemen still mired in protracted civil wars.

In no country has the standard of living significantly improved since the revolutions, with data even drastically declining in conflict-ravaged areas, let alone the right to democracy, the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations revealed.

While using democracy as a masquerade for their ambition to seek global domination, Washington and its allies have been overwhelmed by problems from within, including partisan gridlock, systematic inequity, persistent racial discrimination and rising populism, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

And in a country that takes elections as the emblem of its democracy, the storm of an electoral crisis is still over the head.

In early October, the U.S. Senate detailed former President Donald Trump's repeated attempts to enlist the Justice Department to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, reminiscent of the riot in January in which pro-Trump protestors stormed the Capitol Hill just days ahead of the new president's inauguration. What an irony! And many American political scientists worry that what happened in 2020 could well come back to haunt coming elections in the country.

Western democracies are losing their momentum amid the absence of sincere commitment to democratic values in the political community. Then what are core democratic values?

As Chinese President Xi Jinping has put it, "Whether a country is a democracy or not depends on whether its people are really the masters of the country."

"If the people are awakened only for voting but enter a dormant period soon after, if they are given a song and dance during campaigning but have no say after the election, or if they are favored during canvassing but are left out in the cold after the election, such a democracy is not a true democracy," Xi said.

To ensure their mastery of the country, the Chinese people created the people's congress system under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which has provided an important institutional guarantee for the country's fast economic growth and long-term social stability over decades.

With the system acting as an important institutional vehicle, the whole-process people's democracy in China is characteristic of the country's own democratic practice.

China is also expanding the people's orderly political participation and strengthening legal human rights protection to defend their extensive rights and freedom as prescribed by law.

In May, The Washington Post published a survey based on interviews with nearly 20,000 citizens across China, showing that Chinese people's trust in their government has increased to 98 percent from 95 percent established in the 2018 World Values Survey.

China's effective democratic practice supported by favorable public opinions corroborates Xi's view that a country will be stable if it has a steady system, and a country will be strong if it has a sound system.

On the 100th anniversary of the CPC's founding, Xi announced that China has realized the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, with absolute poverty eliminated. These achievements lend strong support to the existence of another effective democratic pathway.

As a shared value of humanity, democracy should never be a privilege for certain countries, or be constrained to Washington's narrative. 

(Web editor: Shi Xi, Liang Jun)


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