China paper decries democracy ‘trap’
BEIJING – China’s top newspaper yesterday warned against aping Western-style democracy just a week after the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown, pointing to Thailand and Ukraine as examples of the kind of chaos the system can bring.
President Xi Jinping’s ascendancy in a once-in-a-decade generational leadership transition had given many Chinese hope for political reform, mainly due to his folksy style and the legacy of his father Xi Zhongxun, a former reformist vice-premier.
But the repeated message the party has given out since Mr Xi became president last year is that there will be no political liberalisation.
China has been on high alert over the past few weeks in the run-up to the 25th anniversary of the bloody suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, detaining dissidents and tightening Internet controls.
In a lengthy commentary, the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily newspaper said the country needed to be on guard against falling into the “trap” of Western-style democracy.
“Over the past few months, from Kiev to Bangkok, the politics of the street and public clashes have caused deep sorrow,” the newspaper said. “Looking back at the ‘colour revolutions’ which have occurred in recent years …how can we not say with deep feeling: Rejoice that we have resolutely upheld socialism with Chinese characteristics. Otherwise, would China have peace?”
“From western Asia to North Africa, many countries have slipped into the confused madness of ‘western democracy’, which has neither brought happiness nor stability,” the paper said.
It also took aim at British democracy. “In Britain’s Parliament to this day there are still hereditary nobles. For Chinese people, this is unthinkable,” the paper said, adding that China should continue going down its own path.
During a visit to Belgium in April, Mr Xi himself said that China had experimented in the past with various political systems, including multi-party democracy, but it did not work, warning that copying foreign political or development models could be catastrophic.
China’s Constitution enshrines the Communist Party’s long-term “leading” role in government, though it allows the existence of various other political parties under what it calls a “multi-party cooperation system”. But all are subservient to the Communist Party.
Activists who call for pluralism are regularly jailed and criticism of China’s one-party, authoritarian system silenced.
China has forbidden all public discussion of Tiananmen, and any references to the crackdown are swiftly censored from the country’s popular online social networks.
The Communist Party’s powerful 1980s leader Deng Xiaoping, pursued economic reforms while keeping tight restrictions on any political dissent – a path followed by subsequent leaders to this day, including Mr Xi.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE