Grassroots Democracy in China?

January 24, 2007

I thought of sharing a very interesting development.

I met with a senior Chinese government official on October 27, 2006.  I was appraised that he had come on the U.S. Department of State leadership program. We discussed optimal regulation of banks and capital markets and optimal exchange rates for developing economies beyond purchase power parity.  I presented to him a copy of my book, "Prosperity: Optimal Governance, Banking, Capital Markets, Global Trading, Exchange Rate."

What is interesting is that in my book (presented to the Chinese official on October 27, 2006) I also talk about optimality of democracy for China and then President Hu of China expresses a desire for grassroots democracy in China as per press report dated December 3, 2006!  The relevant excerpts from my book and the press report dated December 3, 2006 are presented in the postscript. Are the Chinese leaders merely talking about democracy?


With best regards,

Sankarshan Acharya

Citizens for Development and Pro-Prosperity.Com
Pro-Prosperity.Com is rated as number one by Yahoo! for information on: optimal governance for prosperity

EXCERPTS FROM "PROSPERITY: OPTIMAL GOVERNANCE"

Chapter 9:  Growing National Prosperity: The wealth of a nation flows from its resources.  The most important resource of a nation is the system of its governance. Democracy is not necessarily the best system of governance.  It can be chaotic like in India or autarchic like in USA.  The Chinese system of governance may appear to be dictatorial.  But it is more like a rule by a single party which elects leaders through intense elections starting at the village level.  Electoral success in China is based on the ability of a contestant to solve social problems.  Electoral success in democracies depends more on propaganda than on substance.  The current top ten functionaries of China are all engineers and even the past president was an engineer.  This shows why China is the engineering goods manufacturing hub of the world.
Even USA achieved its success due to policies that were supported across party lines.  The wealth of a nation thus depends on unity of leaders on policies that enhance prosperity for the majority of households.

How should the developing countries respond to the imposition of a lopsided global market system on them, given that there is neither a global democracy nor any hope of a democratic global order to nurture equitable prosperity?  It can be argued that trade barriers and capital flow restrictions like those in China and India are economically optimal to the respective societies.  China can embrace democracy to join Taiwan and grant autonomy to Tibet. India and Pakistan can come closer to revitalize a South Asian economic block, which can join the Middle-East in a trading block. Russia can form a confederation of former Soviet states.
East Asian nations can forge a trading block.  Each block can trade with a common currency and aim to enhance prosperities of majorities of their households before joining a global trading arrangement through WTO.

PRESS REPORT
Has India influenced Hu to reform China?

[ 3 Dec, 2006 1737hrs IST PTI ]

BEIJING: Has the flourishing Indian democratic political system influenced Chinese President Hu Jintao to mull introducing new political reforms in the single party ruled nation?

Interestingly, Hu, just back after a successful maiden state visit to India and interacting with the Indian political leadership, has issued a clarion call for greater promotion of "grassroots democracy" at the latest Politburo meeting of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC).

Hu, also General Secretary of the ruling CPC Central Committee, presiding over the Politburo here on Friday, called for greater promotion of grassroots democracy and the protection of the people's direct exercise of democratic rights.

Hu said electing deputies for the people's congresses (legislatures) at all levels while exercising direct democracy at grassroots level reflected advantages of the people's democratic system.

Governments must ensure the direct exercise of democratic rights of the people in grassroots organisations, their administration of grassroots public affairs and their supervision of cadres, Hu, who is likely to be re-elected at the 17th Party Congress of the CPC in 2007, said.

Laws and regulations in promoting grassroots democracy needed to be improved, and the exercise of rights by the people should vary in form and more public participation should be encouraged.

The success of promoting socialist grassroots democracy depended on the care and support of the people, so issues and conflicts concerning the interests of the people must be properly handled, Hu was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency.

Party committees must establish a coordinated mechanism with the leadership of the Party and the participation of society to boost grassroots democracy, strengthen supervision and carry out the policies of the central leadership in accordance with their circumstances, Hu stressed.

Meanwhile, the official mouthpiece of the CPC, People's Daily, has urged all to ensure the success of elections of delegates to the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, held every five years to elect new leadership and decide on the roadmap for the fastest-growing nation.

In a commentary, the People's Daily said good arrangements with "strong sense of political responsibility" should be made in conducting election to choose the deputies to the National Congress, which has already begun and will end by June next year.

The paper said the Party's 17th National Congress is an important conference held at the time when China's economic and social development enters a "crucial" stage, and is an important political event for the Party, the country and its people, it noted.

The election of delegates is the crucial basis of the conference, and a key practice of Party members in fulfilling their rights and participating in the Party's democracy, it says.

The delegates must have high ideological and political standards, which means they have a firm belief in Communism and the building of Socialism with Chinese characteristics.

A total of 2,220 delegates will be elected by 38 electoral units across the country to attend the 17th National Congress, 100 more than the 16th congress which was held in November 2002.