By Ammar Younas
China seems serious about modernization of its government system on pragmatic level and state’s governing capacity as a whole on philosophical level. It is of great importance for CCP as well to project itself as a governing party instead of a revolutionary party. CCP has formally merged the “modernization” into its reform agenda. Why the question of political reforms emerged at the first place? As China rose to become the world’s second largest economy in terms of GDP over the past three decades, new problems have emerged in Chinese society, such as a huge wealth gap, endemic corruption, social instability and a public distrust of the government. All these problems can only be solved with more and deepened structural reforms . But for the modern political reforms, the simple explanation given by academicians is that, China wants to make politics compatible with its economic reforms. But my concern is that why China is so vocal about its political reforms? And even after doing all these political and economic reforms, will West stop its propaganda against Chinese government?
The interplay between rule of law and political governance, the social demands and maintenance of public order, providing good and services and balancing the economic resources etc, all require a strong managerial system which should be powerful and legitimized. In China, the governance system appears to be efficient and legitimate because there is an apparent consensus of populates on the selection of the public representatives. Moreover, China is able to justify its position related to its political system in contrary to western concerns that Chinese government does what it wants to do. I would say that Chinese government does what is required to do in Chinese context. China has its own customized system of governance which very well goes hand in hand with the demands of populates.
Keping Yu, Deputy director Compilation and Translation Bureau Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party had written in 2014 that the modernization of state governance will requires a change in the current relationship between the government, the market and the society. From a western perspective, during last three decades, we cannot see a change in terms of multiparty competition, general elections and separations of powers between different institutes. But as for state governance is concerned, there has been vivid changes. There is a significant improvement in the situation of rule of law, public participation, democratic decision making, social governance, public services, government accountability, political transparency, administrative efficiency, government approval procedures, decentralization and the development of social organizations.
He further said “State governance fails if the government becomes too powerful and also if it becomes too weak. However, the allotment of powers between the government, the market and society in state governance should be expected to vary between different countries and within the same country at different stages when national conditions differ. Today, in China, the CCP and the government play an overwhelming role in the country’s governance.” In short, the best of form of government is that which tries to maximize the public interests. State, market and society should harmonize which is essential for the progression of social and political lives. “However, governments have always been without question by far the most powerful segment of society, and no other can be considered their equal. Therefore, in modern state governance, the government, still plays a larger role than the market and society. In other words, the key to good governance is good government, and if you want to have good governance you must first have good government.” This position is the exact position of the CCP, the state officials and Chinese academicians that “we are feeling the riverbed while crossing the river.”
Previously in China, there was no consensus between powerful decision makers on political reforms which lead to corruption and emergence of different interest groups. According to the Globaltimes China, in 2016, President Xi presided over the 25th meeting of the Central Leading Group for Deepening Reform Comprehensively. One line from a statement released after the meeting was very eye-catching: “Reform is a revolution that aims to rectify the system and challenge vested interests. There is no way to do it other than using real swords and spears.” The seriousness of the matter can be estimated from this fact that these reforms are not less than a revolution itself. Current reform which are in process are striving to make political system accommodating a smooth transitional process towards economic development while eliminating the class struggle. Socialism is being rethought to make it more pragmatic rather than a conceptual fairytale. The role of mercantile class in the politics and separation of government from business and management is also under consideration. Whereas one of the most important political reforms would the role of socialist party itself. In addition to that, rule of law, democracy, decentralization of state services, protection of human rights and to contextualize these reforms in the contemporary global demands, cannot be neglected.
I think that by introducing these political reforms, China is trying to meet the western demands by answering them in the political jargon which is understandable by them. Rule of law, human rights, democracy and free and fair elections are liberal connotations which are of highly personalized nature to the west. Why China needs to do such reforms? If the purpose is to gain the sympathy or to counter the western propaganda against the Chinese government, then I would say that it’s a useless effort. Because china cannot race with liberal philosophies which are being produced on a tremendous rate in western academia. There are generations after generations of human rights and west itself is unable to correlate them with its legal progression. Rule of law in west is static as compared to the dynamic progress of human rights. If China becomes a country where rule of law is ensured, tomorrow west will introduce a new terminology and start propagating it and will demand from China to introduce it. It will be very difficult for China to use this methodology of “doing reforms based on western terms” as a base for its political reforms. Moreover, If Chinese political reforms are said to be liberal, progressive and democratic then it is also a problem for China. Because China has to accept liberalism and Democracy as a full package. China cannot say that we are liberal in economy, but our political system is conservative. Even if China declares itself completely liberal, the whole Chinese economic and political system will collapse because it is not ready for it at this point. Liberal China is comparison to Liberal US or West will look depraved to the international community.
Secondly, China cannot escape from its claims which it had made on the behalf of socialism. Socialism is attached to the CCP’s identity. Although Chinese refer socialism as “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” because referring it as “Socialism with Capitalistic characteristics” goes against the Marxists ideology. Socialism has stick to the China and it’s very difficult from any Chinese leader to abandon it.
So, what should be the nature of Chinese political reforms? What kind of reforms China should introduce which can satisfy its own populates and meet the demand of the world, emerging from Western propaganda? I think that China should introduce its own version of political and economic expressions. Chinese version is already unique, but China should project it to the world with new terminologies. There is no need to be apologetic about it if West doesn’t consider China to be non-democratic or conservative. China has capacity to build its own model, parallel to the western political and economic models. One of the greatest examples is the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. World has never seen such a huge investment and economic tactic by any other country which spreads its tentacles on the whole world. Interestingly, this is against the Chinese classic understandings of foreign investment. Never in history, China took such a giant step of this sort. It also proves that China can come up with its own version of any policy and can implement it.
I see China standing at that point of history where any classic philosophical terminology cannot completely comprehend the Chinese version of political and economic system. China has reached to the era of “ Ultra-Sinoism”. China need not to say that we are getting rid of socialism, rather can claim to revolutionize the old socialism in the new of Ultra-Sinoism. Under the umbrella of Ultra-Sinoism, China can do its political reforms and it has no need to justify in front of anyone that why are they doing so? Chinese government can simply say that it is Chinese new version of political system. China also need not to put itself in someone’s else philosophical or ideological shoes but should come up with a completely new concept to set an example for others.
In 2015, while studying at American University of Central Asia, I got a chance to meet with the US Assistant Secretary Nisha Biswal and I asked her the question that why US is so aggressively ignoring the feeling of ordinary people of countries with which it deals? And she said that we have shown to the world that our system is functional, and we have demonstrated it many times that it works very well. US wants liberty and freedom for everyone as it wants for its own citizens. So, China should also introduce its own system (which it already has) with its new customized terminologies and show to the world that it is functional as well.
If China will stick to the old terminologies, then it will never be able to fulfil the demands of these philosophies. But if it introduces a term as “ Ultra-Sinoism” as its political reform and implement it in China and shows that it is functioning then no one would dare to criticize on Chinese government. That is appreciable that China is very serious about its political reforms, but It should take full credit of it. It shouldn’t be for the sake of satisfying the demands of so called liberal and progressive philosophies. And It is only possible when Chinese government will introduce these modern reforms in customized modern terminologies. I strongly believe that the era of Socialism, Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, Post Socialism or Sino-Socialism has passed, and world is waiting for Ultra-Sinoism.