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Keeping the proper perspective


CPC's agility means that it has been effectively able to adapt to the changing needs of the times

The West does not understand China very well. Why? Because the West, having dominated the world for 200 years, believes that ultimately, it's the destiny of every society to adopt the Western model. It believes that every country, most certainly including China, should be like the West. Now the reality, of course, is this is not the case, nor will it be. Countries are different. China is not at all like the West. China is different. Why? Because China is rooted in the long history of the Chinese civilization. It's primarily a civilization state, only secondarily a nation state. It's rooted in Confucian values, which create a very different relationship between the state and society, and a strong commitment to meritocracy in the conduct of state governance.

When we talk about Western democracy or when the West talks about democracy, it is a political system which is in crisis. Now, Western leaders and media are fond of alluding to the crisis of Chinese governments. Actually, there isn't a crisis of Chinese governance. There is a crisis of Western democracy. Now, the West's reaction to China's growth and increasing importance are deflection and distraction.

What the Communist Party of China has been remarkably good at is moving with the times, understanding the dynamics of society and moving with it. And therefore, it has been able to change when it needed to change, and it has been able to change direction when it needed to change course. This has been part of the gift of the CPC. So instead of demonizing the CPC for propaganda purposes, the West would do better by studying the CPC because, let's face it, the CPC is the most successful political party of modern times. It has no peers in this respect.

Why has the CPC been so successful? Because it is very deeply rooted in Chinese civilization. Being deeply rooted means it enjoys a great deal of support. It means that it is in touch with, it understands, it can read, it can follow the way the population thinks, and so it can respond to the wishes of the Chinese people. The CPC is in step with the Chinese people.

Another remarkable facet of the CPC, it has this extraordinary capacity for self-reform, to be able to move with the times and reinvent itself. This is a really extraordinary phenomenon. It is impossible to understand modern China without understanding the place and role of the CPC in the transformation of China. In 1949 when the People's Republic of China was founded, the country was extremely poor. Today, while the Chinese are not as rich as people in the Western countries, they've become far richer than they were in a very short span of time. That is an astonishing feat.

Now, China is still obviously much poorer than the United States, but in my experience, many aspects of the Chinese governance are much more competent than that of Western governance, even though Western governments enjoy more resources. The West could learn a great deal from the importance attached by the CPC, traditionally and today, to meritocracy in the selection of and recruitment of the government officials.

Let's go back to the late 1970s, when Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping introduced a trench of remarkable reforms. Reform and opening-up unleashed the energy and the innovative capacity of the Chinese people, which has been crucial to the country's transformation.

The CPC does not think China is a model for anyone else. Because China is very different from every other country. You cannot transplant China's conditions onto another country. There are lots of reasons for this, not least the size of China. And the Chinese have always been humble, very modest about their achievements. Of course, China can offer experiences and lessons for other countries, but it cannot be copied. Now that contrasts starkly with the attitude of Western countries that basically everyone should copy them and be like them. Not least of course, because most obviously these days, the US holds to this way of thinking.

Now, under the leadership of the CPC, China stands on the verge of becoming the most influential, the most advanced society in the world again. Very soon, the Party will celebrate its 100th birthday. It is to be hoped that over the next 100 years, the Party proves to be as open-minded, energetic and full of ideas as it is today, and it stills retains a sense of perspective.

The author is a British journalist, editor, academic and political commentator and the author of When China Rules the World. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.