Choice of the people
SONG CHEN/CHINA DAILY
The Communist Party of China is celebrating its centenary. Its long journey, with setbacks and successes, has promoted the realization of the economic and social development that the Chinese people have long aspired to. The CPC has led China to become the second-largest economy in the world--on course to be the first by the end of this decade. But not only that, the CPC has also eradicated extreme poverty in the country. This combination of national wealth and the elimination of absolute poverty is the equation that defines the success of the Party and its governance model.
In his speech at the 19th CPC National Congress in 2017, President Xi Jinping expounded on Socialism with Chinese characteristics for a New Era and declared that China is approaching the center stage and making greater contributions to humanity. Due to its successes, the People's Republic of China has the legitimacy to position itself as a reference for a governance model. However, Western analysts misinterpret that statement as the intention of the Chinese government to export its political system to other countries. But there is a difference between being a model for reference and imposing a model. Even at the height of the dynastic era, China maintained self-confidence in its political system without seeking to impose its governance model elsewhere. And China has reaffirmed its commitment to the principles of peaceful coexistence that guide its diplomacy.
It is always necessary to remember that, historically, China was invaded by Western powers and some neighboring countries. And it was victim of the two world wars. China has been a prudent and reasonable power in using its prerogatives as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Its diplomacy follows a well-defined semantic and pragmatic script. There is no improvisation. And, in this sense, its diplomatic action and speech are more predictable for those who have a relationship with it.
The CPC has embraced the defense of multilateralism, international organizations, international law, and a democratization of international relations--which means greater participation of poor and developing countries in decision-making processes on matters that will impact them. All these factors are presupposed in the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind formulated by President Xi. This concept contrasts with the notion of globalization as sponsored by the West, which implies opening markets and the standardization of values. In practice, it presupposes a "Westernization" of the world. The notion of a community with a shared future, on the other hand, proclaims respect for the diversity of values that govern each society. Therefore, the concept formulated by President Xi is in line with the Chinese commitment to the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other countries.
The West's mindset is one of intervention; China's, is not. In the past, in the age of navigations, the West invaded continents under the pretext of taking the word of God to save souls from the torments of hell; today, it uses the argument of "defense of democracy" to justify its interventions in foreign countries. The hypocrisy is evident. There is nothing new in this. The novelty is to use this argument to justify an action against China ruled by the CPC, which, as I said previously, has made China the second-largest economy in the world and eradicated extreme poverty in the country.
By harassing China, some Western countries are trying to divert public attention from their internal problems and the growing lack of legitimacy of their political parties. By constructing a narrative of a world divided between "democracies" and "autocracies", the West bets on ignorance so as not to give space to complexity in this debate. If the West allowed the complexity, it would reveal the contradictions of contemporary democracies where poverty, xenophobia, racial discrimination, obscurantism, fake news, and populism have predominated and imploded their political system from inside. The Chinese governance model has its contradictions, of course, but several qualities surpass the Western governance model in many ways.
Western powers are not in a position to tell China what governance model the Chinese people should have. The Chinese people have already chosen. According to a survey published last year by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, China's central government has a 93.1 percent approval rating from its people. The Chinese have been saved. Or rather, the CPC saved China.
The author is professor of international law and head of the Center for Brazil-China Studies at the Law School at Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) and professor of international law at Fluminense Federal University (UFF). 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.