By Professor Yuan Zhang 

The strength of a country’s good political system is the governance capacity

January 21, 2022 - 12:48

A good political path is a system exploring development that is in line with people’s aspirations. American-style democracy is being widely questioned, and the Capitol Hill riot on January 6, 2021, have intensified these questions.

Democracy as a value is a universal common value of humanity and a precious and important achievement of human political civilization. However, it is a pity for the people to cherish the idea of democracy on the one hand, and to argue among political forces on the other hand about what is a universal democracy. There is not just one path to democracy. An exclusive way of judging the "democracy" of other countries by one country is not a respect for democracy, but a way of polarizing the world and pushing it back to a Cold War-style confrontation. The denial of democracy-building efforts in other countries is a bullying tactic of the hegemonic powers to compress the space for democratic development in countries “other than our own”, and it also reveals its lack of self-confidence in the depths.

I. Real democracy and ultimate human rights are only possible with people-centered development.

Prosperity is the only way to guarantee the implementation of democracy. Illegal economic sanctions imposed on a heterogeneous civilization because its political system is not in line with the Western vision will only destroy people's living standards and the political situation of stability. American-style democracy promoted by money politics is only a game for the rich, not a guarantee of civil and human rights. Economic weakness and economic downturn are common anxieties around the world. In the general environment of economic growth slowdown or even stagnation, use political reasons to artificially draw barriers between countries to block mutual respect and cooperation, the ultimate harm is the interests of people. 

National economic and social development is the eternal pursuit of all countries. China strives to strike a balance between democracy and development, takes development as its first priority, and boosts democracy on the basis of national development, rather than hollowing out the democratic system into a castle in the air detached from the reality of national conditions. A political system divorced from national development will eventually grow less attractive over time. Instead of mechanically copying the political development paths of other countries' political systems, it is better to promote the maturation of democratic systems in a steady gradual, and problem-oriented way on the basis of an accurate grasp of the historical stage that the country is in.

II. Democracy should not be a banner to incite separatism.

The evolution of democracy in Western countries has revealed more and more practical problems today. The dilemma of internal polarization and fragmentation has been clearly set in front of current Western politics. One person, one vote is by no means the only democracy principle. Flabby party competition does not guarantee that governments run the country effectively. 

Too much decentralization of national political power may lead to people being confined to small groups with petty interests, ignoring the collective interests that the country really needs. Citizens lose the will to unite with one another and lack trust in one another. Rival faction that accommodates social fragmentation makes party politics more fragile. In those societies, Neutral, moderate centrist parties with a traditional sense of responsibility no longer have decisive public appeal. The generalization of social networks has also objectively lowered the threshold of the domestic political game and dismantled previous multiparty political system. 

In the international arena, violating the sovereignty of other countries under the pretext of democracy is an alienation of the democratic system. The major powers that forcefully promote unbefitting democratization influenced the domestic political stability in Afghanistan and Iraq after the war in Afghanistan and the Iraq War. 

III. A good political system should take full cognizance of the people’s aspirations.

Sound political institutional arrangements need to advocate real and functional democratic practices in whole process of democratic elections, consultations, coordination, decision-making, implementation, management, inspection, oversight, and accountability. Democracy is the right of the people, not a privilege of other countries. A good political system should fulfill the people’s sense of happiness, satisfaction, and security. A good political system is one that protects the rights and interests of the greatest number of people, represents the people’s will, pools people’s wisdom and strength. A good political system is responsive to the changes of the times so that it has a bright future. A good political system is one that is rooted in the country’s profound culture, fits the national conditions and is embraced by the people.

IV. Effectiveness of governance is the benchmark of a good political system

Western-style democratic system design does not imply an effectively implemented democratic system, much less one that necessarily leads to a highly competent national governance capacity nor a modernized national governance system. Polls in many Western countries showed that a high percentage of the population resents drawn-out and lengthy political infighting. A political system that governs effectively means that the system is able to effectively regulate harmonious relations between government and society, balance the demands of different groups, shape vibrant political parties, and coalesce cohesive ethnic relations. Efficient, uncorrupt, and cohesive capacity of national governance is a guarantee for the maintenance of national sovereignty, security, and development interests in a changing international situation.

V. Democratic relations between countries deserve more promoting.

Relations between countries should not be a zero-sum game full of competition and hostility. There is no lack of tragedies that non-Western allied countries have been demonized by hegemonism for pursuing sovereign independence and not duplicating other’s political systems. The establishment of democratic institutions is a long-term process. The way to enhance the attractiveness of democracy is to consolidate the country's economic and composite national strength, to improve people's living standards, and to provide practical help to other countries, not just shouting slogans or making enemies, let alone international bullying that uses force to force other countries to change their development paths. Each country has the right to follow its own path of democratic development, and the political future of each country should be in the hands of its own people.

There are many ways to achieve democracy, and diversity is the charm of human civilization. Cooperation, sharing progress together among countries, advocating inclusiveness, equality, justice and harmony safeguard achievements of human civilization, what makes a positive global international order. 

Global affairs should be jointly governed by all countries in the world, and the fruits of global development should be shared by all countries in the world. American-style democracy is not the only kind of democracy, Eastern democracy may better represent the future.

Dr. Yuan ZHANG is a professor at the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University.


 


 

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