A form of Restricted Democracy still exists in China at the Village Level

November 7, 2018

This may come as a surprise to many outside of China, but China is not a totalitarian country with an all-powerful dictator.  Simply put, China has an autocratic government that operates as a limited republic with a Constitution that fits China at this time, and individual freedom takes a distant back seat to harmony and improving the quality of life for the majority of Chinese.


China’s Approach to Social Harmony

New Politics says, “Elections of Village Committees and Village Leaders in China’s approximately 950,000 villages began in 1989 as part of a wider village self-government movement. The Village Committee and Village Leader are entrusted with managing the public affairs of the village. This includes managing any collective enterprises including land (the use of which is most frequently subcontracted out to villagers), building and repairing roads, maintaining public security, administering family planning issues, and helping the village to develop economically, socially, and environmentally.”

The Organic Law of Village Committees in rural China was enacted 1987 and implemented in 1988, allowing for direct election of village chiefs instead of being appointed by the township government.

In the beginning, these rural village elections might have been an experiment to see if this type of democracy worked in China, but with the election of Donald Trump in the U.S., any chance of China becoming more democratic probably died a necessary death.

One thing China doesn’t want to see happen is to lose all the gains erased by a president like Donald Trump who is allegedly illegally dismantling every progressive gain the United States made since 1900 and attempting to influence and control the federal judicial system through the U.S. Department of Justice.

In China, the Local People’s Congress at each administrative level, other than the village level in rural areas, hold direct elections, and elects candidates for executive positions at that level of government.

Governors, mayors, and heads of counties, districts, townships and towns are in turn elected by the respective local People’s Congresses Presidents of people’s courts and chief procurators of people’s procuratorates are elected by the respective local People’s Congresses above the county level. The President and the State Council are elected by the National People’s Congress, which is made of 2,987 delegates.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has almost 90-million voting members, and 22.3-million are women. This makes the CCP the largest political party in the world.

Although the CCP controls the government because it holds the majority of votes, and decisions in China are made by consensus, China is not a pure one-party state. There are approved independent parties that belong to the United Front. For instance, in 2012-2013, eight hundred and thirty members of the 2,987 in National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China were members of the independents that belong to the United Front.

Under the CCP, what are two major examples that China has accomplished since Mao died in 1976?

In 2017, The World Bank reported, “The world as a whole has made impressive strides on poverty reduction. Since 1990 in fact, nearly 1.1 billion people have moved out of extreme poverty, which means that the number of people living on 1 dollar and 90 cents per day, or less, has reduced dramatically. …

“In China alone, nearly 800 million people (from the global 1.1 billion) have escaped poverty since the 1980s.”

In the last fifteen years, China reached 27,000 km (17,000 mi) in total length, accounting for about two-thirds of the world’s high-speed rail (HSR) tracks in commercial service. The HSR building boom continues with the HSR network set to reach 38,000 km (24,000 mi) in 2025.

Why doesn’t the United States, a country being torn apart by Partisanship and Donald Trump, have high-speed bullet trains like Europe and China?


Partisanship does not affect China’s autocratic republic. In China, there is no faction with the power to block the decisions of the majority like the elected Freedom Caucus in the United States made up of about three dozen tea-party people.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Deng Xiaoping’s first Steps to Open China to the World

July 18, 2018

It’s time to leave Mao behind as part of China’s history. His era ended with his death and the arrest of the “Gang of Four”, including Mao’s widow, Jiang Qing. The “Gang of Four” was convicted of crimes against the state and Jiang said in court, “I was Chairman’s Mao’s dog. What he said to bite, I bit.”

Jiang was Mao’s third wife, and she was convicted in 1981 of “counter-revolutionary crimes” and imprisoned. In 1983, her death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. On June 5, 1991, she hung herself while still in prison. She was seventy-seven.

In 1977, Deng Xiaoping emerged as the dominant figure among pragmatists in the leadership. Under him, China launched far-reaching economic reforms.

One of the most famous maxims of Deng, dating back to the years before the Cultural Revolution, states that “It doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.” That quote caused trouble between Mao and Deng because it meant Deng did not worry about whether a person was a revolutionary or not, as long as he or she was efficient and capable of doing their job under the socialist economy.

Once you understand that quote, you will understand China’s amazing economic reforms in the decades since Mao’s death and why one of Deng’s first steps in 1979 was to establish diplomatic relations with the United States.

Deng Xiaoping paid an official goodwill visit from January 20 to February 4, 1979, to the United States at the invitation of President Carter. This was the first visit by a Chinese leader to the United States after the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

During his visit, Deng exchanged views with President Carter on the international situation.

About Taiwan, Deng said that China was willing to solve the Taiwan question in a peaceful way. The Joint Press Communiqué issued by both sides said that both sides are of the view that differences in social systems of the two countries should not impede the enhancement of mutual friendly relations and mutual cooperation.

During the visit, China and the United States signed an agreement on cooperation in science and technology and a cultural agreement. They also signed agreements on cooperation in education, commerce, and space, and on the mutual establishment of consular relations and the opening of Consulates-General in each other’s country.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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To Get Around, take the Bullet Trains and Use the Subways in China

July 26, 2017

Believe me when I suggest avoiding driving or taking a taxi in Beijing unless it is midnight and the city is sort-of sleeping. Beijing is one of the worst cities in the world to drive in. This is probably true for most of China’s crowded cities.

To give you an idea of what I mean by crowded, New York City has a population of about 8.5 million and is ranked #1 in the United States with Los Angeles #2 with less than 4 million people. There are 160 cities in China with a population of over 1 million vs only 10 in the United States.

Here are China’s top five cities ranked by population.

Shanghai – 22 million

Beijing – 10 million

Guangzhou – 11 million

Tianjin – 11 million

Shenzhen – 10 million

I have been to Shanghai and Beijing several times between 1999 – 2008, and have been stuck in Beijing traffic breathing toxic fumes and watching the taxi’s meter adding numbers to the cost of the trip when we could have walked faster for free.

The other choice is Beijing’s subway system built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics (and it’s still expanding), which I prefer using. It’s fast and efficient, but wear a money belt because it can become sardine-can crowded creating a perfect environment for pickpockets. I didn’t even wear my backpack on my back. I put it on my chest where I could keep an eye on it. To be fair, Smarter Travel.com warns us of the dangers of pickpockets in New York City. The same advice will help in any major city you visit.


This video was filmed in 2013 when only one subway line was open. Today, Xian has three subway lines with sixty-six stations and an average of 1.5 million people riding the subway daily. Last time I was in Xian in 2008, the subway system was still under construction.

Then there is China’s high-speed rail. It didn’t exist in 2008, and I haven’t been back to China since. Why fly when you can see China from a bullet train moving at 120 – 160 mph (or faster). The Economist reports, “Less than a decade ago China had yet to connect any of its cities by bullet train. Today, it has 20,000km (12,500 miles) of high-speed rail lines, more than the rest of the world combined. It is planning to lay another 15,000km by 2025.”


“China’s high speed trains make travelling the country easy and quick but there are certain things you should know that’ll make using the high speed trains in China a painless process!” – Learn how to ride high-speed rail in China from The Adventurer

Then Manufacturing.net asks, “Why is There No High-Speed Rail Network in America?”

Here is the simple answer. Since World War II, the U.S. has spent about $33-Trillion on its military budgets and fighting endless wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan causing millions to be killed and/or maimed. Without those wars, there would probably be no ISIS. Then there is the fact that since President Reagan in the 1980s, the focus in the United States has been on cutting taxes mostly for corporations and the wealthiest Americans. That has led to about $20 trillion in debt for the federal government. During this time, the U.S. has not kept its infrastructure up-to-date – improvements that would have provided millions of new jobs and benefited the American people.

If the United States had avoided starting so many wars and had a military budget equal to China (ranked #2 in the world), it would have saved about $32-Trillion since World War II. There would be no national debt and the U.S. might even have its own bullet trains speeding from coast to coast.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, Modern China’s Founding Fathers

May 3, 2017

Under Mao Zedong (1893 – 1976), China suffered after he became its leader in 1949, but that isn’t the whole story. During Mao’s Great Leap Forward; what’s known as Mao’s Great Famine (1958 – 62), and the Cultural Revolution, millions died from starvation and purges. What we don’t hear is that China is known as the land of famines. Imperial records show that China has had droughts and famines in one or more of its provinces annually for more than two-thousand years, but there is no mention of the fact that there has not been any famines since the last one in 1962.

In addition, when Mao came to power in 1949, the average lifespan in China was 35. When Mao died, the average lifespan was in the 50s and today it’s in the 70s.

On June 30, 1984, Deng Xiaoping said, “Given that China is still backward, what road can we take to develop the productive forces and raise the people’s standard of living? … Capitalism can only enrich less than 10 percent of the Chinese population; it can never enrich the remaining more than 90 percent. But if we adhere to socialism and apply the principle of distribution to each according to his work, there will not be excessive disparities in wealth. Consequently, no polarization will occur as our productive forces become developed over the next 20 to 30 years.”

Deng Xiaoping was right. Bruce Einhom writing for Business Week, Countries in the Biggest Gaps Between Rich and Poor, October 16, 2009, listed the top countries with the biggest gaps. America was number #3 on the list. China wasn’t on the list.

What does capitalism, Chinese style, look like? Under Deng Xiaoping’s economic policies, China became the world’s factory floor.

Prior to 1979, the year China opened its doors to world trade, it was rare to find anything made in China.

In the last thirty years, something happened that Mao thought he had destroyed. China grew a consumer middle class and that growth hasn’t finished. During a trip to China in 2008, we saw the Chinese middle class everywhere we went. Instead of the majority of tourists being foreigners, they were Chinese traveling to discover their own country.

A middle-class family in China usually owns an apartment, a car, eats out regularly, and takes vacations. National Geographic Magazine in May 2008 said, “They owe their well-being to the government’s (Deng Xiaoping’s) economic policies …”

Current estimates show China’s GDP growth will continue to grow. Since 2000, China’s GDP has grown at an annual average of 9.66 percent. Compare that to the U.S. with a GDP that never breaks 4 percent and was 2.43 percent in 2015. – Google Public Data

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The differences between Capitalism, Communism, Socialism, and a Social Safety Net

April 4, 2017

Socialism and communism are ideological doctrines that have similarities as well as differences. One point that is frequently raised to distinguish socialism from communism is that socialism generally refers to an economic system, and communism refers to both an economic system and a political system.

The fall of communism in the Soviet Union did not mean socialism failed. It meant the autocratic, one-party state that defined communism failed.

After all, Russia still has a social safety net that funds health care and pension programs.  With at least five years of coverage, men age 60 and women age 55 are covered for old-age pensions. Russia also offers a disability pension and a survivor pension.

Having socialist safety net programs does not mean a country is socialist or communist. For example, the United States is not a socialist country just because it has Medicare, and Social Security. The difference is that the United States has a multi-party political system and still has private ownership of property and a capitalist business system.

China changed in the early 1980s when its Communist Party adopted elements of capitalism and joined the World Trade Organization. It’s true that part of China’s economy is still state-run, but there are not as many social programs as there once were under the previous communist system.

That leads to this question: If China allows capitalism to coexist with socialism, is it still a Communist country? Just to make a point, in 2014 Bloomberg reported that about 75-percent of China’s industrial output came from private businesses and not state-owned enterprises.

While no one in China may own land (yet), private citizens and even foreigners may lease land in urban areas while land in most rural areas is still owned by village collectives in conjunction with the central government and cannot be bought or sold because no one holds the title to most rural land. There is also no property tax, rent, or mortgages that come with interest payments for rural areas. This means being poor in rural China isn’t the same as being poor in the United States, because families can’t lose their homes to a bank.

Imagine what it must be like to not worry about making the rent, mortgage, and property tax payments. There are almost 600-million rural Chinese, and they even get to vote in democratic elections for their village leaders.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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What Type of Government does China have?

February 15, 2017

By definition, as you will learn from this post, 21st century China is not a socialist and/or Communist country, even though it is still labeled as one. It is also not a capitalist country.

Socialism is a system where there is no private property and the means of production are owned and controlled by the state. But in 2014 Bloomberg reported that private companies are driving China’s growth. Only 25-percent of China’s industrial output came from state-owned enterprises in 2014.

Communism is a political theory derived from Karl Marx, advocating class war and leading to a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs. When Mao died in 1976, China moved away from this political theory by ending Mao’s Cultural Revolution and arresting the Gang of Four, who planned to lead China and continue the Cultural Revolution’s class war forever.

Then there is capitalism that is an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.

Since about 25-percent of China’s industry is still state-owned, China clearly isn’t a capitalist system like the United States is.  The evidence for this was on display soon after the 2007–08 global financial crises created by U.S. Banks and Wall Street greed that caused millions of Chinese to lose their jobs in private sector manufacturing.

That’s when China’s government stepped in.

The Global Economic Crises and Unemployment in China reports, “The state provided subsidies and basic entitlements to urban workers and their families in an effort to maintain social and political stability within the subsystem … the government has poured billions of dollars into public works designated for road and rail transportation improvements. These projects have created many jobs for migrant labor.”

What else do we know about today’s China?

China has one political party with 85-million voting members; it’s one of the largest political parties in the world. — Britannica.com

More than 600-million rural Chinese vote in village elections. New Politics reports, “Elections of Village Committees and Village Leaders in China’s approximately 950,000 villages began in 1989 as part of a wider village self-government movement.”

China has its own Constitution from 1982 that includes Amendments.  For instance, the president of China is limited to two 5-year terms and can be impeached.

There is also a mandatory retirement age that comes with a pension.

However, every year, China’s president is listed as one of the world’s dictators by elements of the U.S. media, but under China’s Constitution, the presidency is a largely ceremonial office with limited powers. This doesn’t fit the definition of a dictator who holds absolute, imperious, or overbearing power or control and who is not responsible to the people or their elected representatives.

How are China’s representatives elected?  About.com reports, “China’s representative elections begin with a direct vote of the people in local and village elections operated by local election committees. In cities, the local elections are broken down by residential area or work units. Citizens 18 and older vote for their village and local people’s congresses, and those congresses, in turn, elect the representatives to provincial people’s congresses.

“The provincial congresses in China’s 23 provinces, five autonomous regions, and four municipalities directly ruled by the Central Government, special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao, and armed forces then elect the roughly 3,000 delegates to the National People’s Congress (NPC).

“The National People’s Congress is empowered to elect China’s president, premier, vice president, and Chair of the Central Military Commission as well as the president of the Supreme People’s Court and the procurator-general of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate.”

Let’s look at how the United States elects its president.  Political Parties that are private sector organizations allow party members to vote in state primaries. These primaries are not public elections because most of them only allow registered party members to vote.

Donald Trump, for instance, only won a little more than 14-million votes from registered Republicans to end up representing the Republican Party as its presidential candidate in 2016, and this is in a country that has more than 200-million registered voters. Hillary Clinton had more than 16.8 million votes from the Democratic primaries.

The winners (Trump and Clinton) moved on to campaign in the national election that is held and monitored by the public sector in each state.  In the 2016 election, Donald Trump won the Electoral College vote 303 to 235, but he lost the popular vote 62,979,879 votes to Hillary Clinton’s 65,844,954.

Does this seem strange?  Is there any other republic in the world where the winner loses the popular vote?

Last, a republic is a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch.

After reading this post, what type of government do you think China has?

  1. a dictatorship
  2. a socialist state
  3. a communist state
  4. a capitalist state
  5. a republic
  6. A hybrid capitalist-socialist republic
  7. None of the above

UPDATE
(March 2018)

China Removes Presidential Term Limits

“China’s legislature has voted to remove presidential term limits from its Constitution. That change allows China’s current president, Xi Jinping, to potentially rule indefinitely.”

When the CCP recently revised China’s Constitution and did away with term limits for its current president, the future is uncertain for the type of China’s government. The 19th century’s British Lord Acton was right when he said, ” Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Now that Xi Jinping can be president of China for the rest of his life, will he become another Kim Jong-un, Donald Trump and/or Putin? Only time will reveal that answer.

1a-242-what-most-reviewers-are-saying-jan-16-2017GE

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What happens when any Form of Government becomes destructive and many people suffer?

March 1, 2016

I was recently asked, “What can China learn from the US political model? American government is looking more and more like ‘of the 1% by the 1% and for the 1%’!”

My answer follows: If China learns anything from what is happening in the U.S., it’s to keep a balance between socialism and capitalism and not let socialism dominate capitalism and capitalism dominate socialism.

Capitalism benefits the 1% – everyone cannot be a winner even though many of the wealthy think everyone can make it like they did and they look down on and discriminate against everyone who doesn’t make it. After all, everyone has the right to work harder to make it, right, even on poverty wages with no benefits?

Socialist programs benefits the other 99% where many can end up suffering horribly without a safety net.

I’m not talking about pure socialism where the state—representing the people—own everything: the land and everything built on and under it, the means of production and the retail sector that sells what’s produced. I’m talking about social safety-net programs like affordable and/or free universal health care for every citizen no matter how much they earn, a livable wage, Social Security for when people are old and retire, unemployment insurance for people who have lost their jobs, labor unions that represent the workers, and disability insurance for workers injured on the job and even from accidents outside of work, who can no longer work because of the injury.

The capitalists, the 1%, will moan and groan because of these social programs that protect 99% of the people—the workers that helped make the 1% wealthy and powerful. The 1% will moan and groan because enough is never enough and the social programs that protect the 99% cut into the profits and the growth of their wealth and power. Angry, the 1% will bribe as many leaders in the country as possible to get rid of the socialist programs that protect the 99%. The corruption and lies will be rampant, because money buys power and power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Wealth and power is similar to cancer and to contain that disease and protect the 99%, the government must walk a fine line to keep the balance.  The 99% must be stopped from destroying the 1% and the 1% must be stopped from causing the 99% from suffering due to the greed of the 1%.

The 99% can cause tyranny and suffering too because the mob is dangerous and powerful when united against tyranny, and the 1% can quickly become the tyranny behind the suffering caused to the 99%. That is what is happening in the United States today. The 1% is systematically attacking every public sector socialist program that protects the quality of life for the 99%.

The U.S. Declaration of Independence, that is not the law of the United States—the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights is the law that guides America—says it best:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”

A government’s struggle to keep that balance between capitalism and socialism never ends because the temptations to lean toward capitalism’s 1% are many, and it has been said through the ages that every person has a price and can be bought one way or the other. Government also must resist the cry of the mob, loud and organized factions of the 99%, that demand more from the social safety net. In the end, it is up to knowledgeable, honest voters to help keep that balance in place.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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