Domestic Affairs

China should follow own course in political reform

By Wei-wei Zhang (
Updated: 2011-04-02 15:12
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The ideas behind China's rapid rise, which are very different from the mainstream political views of the Western countries, can enlighten us in the process of making innovations in democracy. The underlying concept of the success of China's reform and opening up is "Seeking the Truth from Facts" and its core content is to not to believe in any dogma, but determine tangible merits through inspecting fact.

As a "civilization-type state," China has completely different cultural traditions from Western countries. This is the starting point for us to promote political reform. The most important features of the Western tradition are a series of customs, habits and institutions based on individualism, whereas Chinese customs, habits and institutions are more based on families and the relationship derived from families.

Given the differences in cultural traditions, the right way of constructing democracy should be combining our own cultural tradition to launch systemic innovation while avoiding disadvantages, rather than transforming our culture to adapt to Western culture and a political system under the influence of Western culture.

An important lesson China has learned from the Reform and Opening Up is that the quality of a political system should be judged by its contents and outcomes. Deng Xiaoping brought forward three criteria to define socialism during his visit to southern China in 1992. The first criterion is whether it can promote the growth of the socialist productive forces; the second is whether it can increase the overall strength of the socialist state and the third is whether it can improve people's living standards.

We can draw on the three criteria when promoting our democratic construction. Deng determined the correctness of a socialist policy based on its outcome rather than its form, which greatly encouraged the introduction of creative and seemingly adventurous policies.

It is important for the Chinese government to follow three principles based on its experience from the Reform and Opening Up when exploring new ways to build democracy suitable for its actual conditions.

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