Is China a Republic? – Part 4/4

January 25, 2012

In China, the power of legislation is not held by a single power organ or one particular person.

China’s legislative power is carried out by two or more power organs, which means the country has multi-legislative powers, including at national level, that for administrative laws and local laws, each subject to different organ authority.

However, unlike the United States, the structure of China’s government is not one of checks and balances, where the legislation, administration and court stand independently to restrain one another, but more like the democratic parliamentary system [seventy-seven countries such as the UK, Spain, Canada, Germany, Thailand, Japan, etc.] which also offers few effective checks and balances so China is not alone in this regard.

The National People’s Congress and its Standing Committee make state laws; the State Council and its relevant departments draw specific regulations respectively; and relevant authentic organs of ordinary localities and governments formulate local regulations.

China’s current legislation structure is deeply rooted in the specific conditions of the nation. First, China is a country where the people are their own masters, so laws should reflect their will [should does not mean the will of the majority automatically leads to new laws—that is what happens in a true democracy but not in a republic].

Then on December 31, 2011, in another post, I had this comment from Alessandro about China’s political system.  He is an Italian married to a Chinese citizen, and they live in China.


Online Democracy in China

Are Chinese citizen entitled to vote?

“Yes,” Alessandro said, “my wife and her family just did it less than a couple of months ago.

“Was that how the communist party’s secretary Hu Jintao got his position?

“Yes,” Alessandro said, “Hu Jintao was voted in by the people entitled to do that, the National People’s Congress (全国人民代表大会), which in turn has been elected by the people’s congresses of the lower level, and so on down to the lowest levels.

“At a grassroots level in villages, village chiefs are directly elected by the residents. That is how the people’s congresses system works…

“People directly elect the people’s congresses at the local level, which in turn elects the congresses of the superior level, to arrive at the top level (after scrutiny and evaluation of their preparation by their peers).”

Before you judge China, and answer the question, “Is China a Republic?” here are a few definitions of dictatorship.

According to Webster’s Online Dictionary.org, a dictatorship is an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by a dictator. In contemporary usage, dictatorship refers to an autocratic form of absolute rule by leadership unrestricted by law, constitutions, or other social and political factors within the state.

In fact, a dictator is a ruler with total power over a country, typically one who has obtained control by force. Source: Oxford Dictionaries.com

People’s democratic dictatorship [sounds like an oxymoron] is a phrase incorporated into the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China by Mao Zedong. The phrase is notable for being one of the few cases in which the term dictatorship is used in a non-pejorative manner, which means not in a negative, disparaging or belittling manner.

By saying “People’s Democratic Dictatorship”, the CCP meant that the people rule. However, that would be incorrect since even in all three types of democracies, the people do not rule. The people elect those that rule—well, at least some or most are elected.


PBS Documentary: China from the Inside (Power and the People)

Over at William Meyers.org, you may learn more about how the United States was born as a republic and over the course of one hundred and fifty years, step-by-step, became what Meyers calls a “true representative democracy”.

Meyers says, “Democracy means rule of the people. The two most common forms of democracy are direct democracy and representative democracy. Representative democracies are, therefore, a kind of republic. Self-appointed governments such as monarchies, dictatorships, oligarchies, theocracies and juntas are not republics. However, this still allows for a wide spectrum.

“The classic is the Roman Republic, in which only a tiny percentage of citizens, members of the nobility, were allowed to vote for the Senators, who made the laws and also acted as Rome’s supreme court.

“Most people would say that Rome was a Republic, but not a democracy, since it was very close to being an oligarchy, rule by the few. Although the Roman Republic was not a dictatorship (until Augustus Caesar grabbed power), it did not allow for rule of the people.

“In both theory and practice the Soviet Union, that late evil empire, was a republic (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) because the lawmakers were elected, if only by the Communist Party members…”

“But,” Meyers says, “the main Amendment that tipped the scales from the national government of the United States being a mere republic to being a true representative democracy was the often-overlooked Seventeenth Amendment, which took effect in 1913.

“Since 1913, the U.S. Senate has been elected directly by the voters, rather than being appointed by the state legislatures. That makes the national government democratic in form, as well as being a republic.”

Now, if you have read this far, you may answer the question — is China a Republic?

Return to Is China a Republic – Part 3 or start with Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Is China a Republic? – Part 2/4

January 23, 2012

It appears that democracies come in several types. According to Democracy Building.info, there are three basic types of democracy—the Direct Democracy [ex. Switzerland], the Presidential Democracy [ex. USA, France] and the Parliamentary Democracy [ex. UK, Germany, Spain, Italy].

As for checks and balances, the parliamentary system offers few effective checks and balances [remember that China doesn’t offer checks and balances either].

In the UK, the Prime Minister, as head of state, is not elected. He or she is the leader of the majority party and may stay in power as long as his or her party is the majority. One of the main criticisms of many parliamentary systems is that the head of government is in almost all cases not directly elected by the people.

There are two types of parliamentary systems.  One is the unicameral system, which means it only has one single house or parliament. Forty-four countries fit this description. Examples are Denmark, Finland, Greece, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Sweden and Turkey.

Then there is the bicameral system [thirty-three countries] of a parliamentary government, which has two houses, an upper and a lower chamber. Examples of this form of democracy are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the European Union, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Africa, Spain, Thailand and the United Kingdom.

Let’s see how China’s type of government compares and decide if it is a democracy, republic or a dictatorship.


Democracy From the Bottom Up (The Carter Center)

The Carter Center says, “More than 600,000 villages across China are participating in a national movement toward meaningful democracy—democracy from the bottom up—in a communist nation of 1.3 billion people. For more than a decade, at the invitation of the Chinese government, The Carter Center has aided this effort by helping to standardize election practices among villages and by promoting good governance and citizen participation.”

According to Rural Life in China at Facts and Details.com, “the 2010 census [reported that], 51.3 percent of China’s population lives in rural areas. This is down from 63.9 percent in the 2000 census, which used a different counting system, and over 95 percent in the 1920s. There are around 800 million rural peasants and migrant workers—roughly, 500 million farmers and 300 million to 400 million excess unskilled rural laborers… There are around 1 million villages in China, about one third of the world’s total.  Each village has an average of 916 people.”

That means about 549.6 million rural Chinese vote in democratic village elections every three years.

By contrast, in the 2010 US national election 37.8% (90.6 million) of the voting-age population turned out, and in 2008 only 56.8% (132.6 million) did.  In 2008, the voting age population was 231.2 million and in 2010, it was almost 236 million.  If the majority of people do not vote in an election, does that mean the democracy is broken?

I recommend reading Rural Life in China at Facts and Details.com.  It is well balanced and points out the way it was and the way it is.  Although I did not read every word, I didn’t see any China bashing going on. It was not an indictment of China. However, I am sure a critic [read that enemy] of China could easily cherry pick this article and select a few pull quotes to support more misleading mudslinging at the CCP while ignoring what life was like in rural China before 1949.

Continued on January 24, 2012 in Is China a Republic – Part 3 or return to Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Is China a Republic? – Part 1/4

January 22, 2012

The reason for this post is due to a recent comment made by Troy Parfitt in another post. “You’re a mythomaniac, a propagandist, and endorser of one of the most repressive regimes in the world [Mr. Parfitt is talking about me]. And your website is a series of disconnected nonsense decorated by retarded videos. You can’t construct an argument to save your life, and the sycophants who show up here saying, ‘Yes, Lloyd, I agree with you,’ belong in Sgt. McGillicuty’s Travelling Nutbar Show.”

If Mr. Parfitt is nothing else, he is creative.

It is true that at one time a strong case could be made that during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, China had one of the most repressive regimes in the world but that claim is questionable today and has been since the 1980s regardless of what some say happened in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

To discover an answer to see if China is qualified to be called a republic instead of a dictatorship, I will provide information and let the reader decide.

The Oxford English Dictionary says 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.

Then Albatrus.org says that in 1928, the US Army provided a more succinct definition of a republic: Authority is derived through the election by the people of public officials best fitted to represent them. Attitude toward property is respect for laws and individual rights, and a sensible economic procedure. Attitude toward law is the administration of justice in accord with fixed principles and established evidence, with a strict regard to consequences.

A republic is the “standard form” of government throughout the world.

A republic is a form of government under a constitution, which provides for the election of:

  1. an executive and
  2. a legislative body, who working together in a representative capacity, have all the power of appointment, all power of legislation, all power to raise revenue and appropriate expenditures, and are required to create
  3. a judiciary to pass upon the justice and legality of their governmental acts and to recognize
  4. certain inherent individual rights

Continued on January 23, 2012 in Is China a Republic – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Party Women

November 10, 2010

Starting with the I Ching, The Book of Changes, almost five thousand years ago, the central focus of Chinese philosophy has been how to live an ideal life and how best to organize society.

When the Communist Party of China gained power in 1949, previous schools of Chinese philosophy, except Legalism, were denounced as backward and purged during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.

However, their influence on Chinese thought did not vanish since China’s Central Committee continues to plan and organize modernization and changes to China’s five thousand year old culture and society.

Most Chinese believe that true advancement and growth should only happen slowly, at a steady, measured pace, which means to grow but grow slow like a tree while following a well thought out plan to bring about the changes.

Even the United States doesn’t change quickly. 

In fact, it took almost ninety years to free the slaves, and women first sought the right to vote in 1848 at the Seneca Falls Woman’s Rights Convention.

Then seventy-two years later in 1920, American women finally earned the right to vote when the Nineteenth Amendment was adopted by Congress and was ratified by the states becoming a national law.

The last time women had relative freedom in China was in the seventh century during the Tang Dynasty when Emperor Wu Zetian, a woman, ruled the country.

Since 1982, when China ratified its Constitution, women in China have gained more freedom, power and rights than at any other time in China’s history including the Tang Dynasty.

Anyone that does not consider this progress is stupid, blind and deaf.

Critics in the West might point out that under the Communists, no woman has ruled China, but I could say the same of the United States and many other countries.

Today, The most likely woman candidate for Politburo status — and a remote possibility for the Standing Committee — is Lin Yandong, a senior Party official responsible for winning over non-Communists.

In fact, Chinese women’s participation in politics has grown since 1982. There are now 230 or more women provincial and ministerial officials, 670 or more are mayor, which is twice the number of 1995.

“Chinese women leaders have much in common. They generally all have a good education background, being mainly science majors, and solid experience in government. They are of a caliber equal to that of their male counterparts,” an All-China Women’s Federation expert said.

If you hear anyone demanding quick changes in China, be cautions. Moving fast may result in tragedy.  I suggest that China continue to change steadily and slowly like an oak tree. 

Why do so many of China’s critics expect China to move faster than the US did? Is it because they want to see China fail?

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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The Emperor is Dead

November 5, 2010

In a Republic, everyone “does not” have the right to vote and that’s the way it was in the United States until 1965 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act and created a democracy.

In 1776, when the US was a Republic, only white men with property had the right to vote, and the electorate consisted of perhaps only 10 to 20 percent of the population.

In fact, “”This made the country (America) far more stable than places that did not have this tradition and later went through dozens of constitutions and revolutions. In short, when it came to government and voting, Americans had a model to build on.” Source: History – Voting in Early America

Since America took almost two centuries to become the chaotic democracy it is today where almost everyone may vote but many don’t, why should China be rushed.

In China, members of the Communist Party make up the electorate, which is about 5% of the population. If the Communist Youth League were added, it would be closer to 10 percent. Regardless of how this electorate makes decisions, they do have a voice.

However, the consensus (rather than a majority vote) of that electorate still decides the direction China is moving.

China’s Central Committee has about 300 members (connected by a hot line) and nominally appoints the current 25 Politburo members, who select the Standing Committee of 5 to 9 men who select the President and Prime Minister.

Before 1911, only one man had a vote and that was the emperor. China has no emperor today. Today, China’s leaders may only serve two, five-year terms and there are also age limits, which the US doesn’t have. In fact, China’s next leader will not be the son of an emperor.

At its birth, the United States was not a democratic nation—far from it. The very word “democracy” had pejorative overtones, summoning up images of disorder, government by the unfit, even mob rule — considering the run up to the 2010 election, which sounds about right.

The explanation for the pressure from the “so-called” free world that China throw away the more stable Republic that has led to a steady, controlled modernization, improved health care and lifestyles and stumble quickly into a chaotic democracy is that misery loves company.

In 1950, the average life expectancy in China was 32.  Today life expectancy at birth is 73 (78 in the US). The infant mortality rate in 1950 was about 200 for 1,000 live births. Today that number is 20 (6 in the US).

If you want to see what happens to a country that became a Democracy before it was ready, study India carefully.

In India, the infant mortality rate is 51 for 1,000 live births. Life expectancy at birth is 66.

So far, since 1982 (which marks the end of Mao’s era and the birth of China’s new Constitution), China has avoided many of India’s mistakes, and India has been a democracy since 1947.

The learn more about India, see Comparing India and China’s Economic Engines, India Falling Short and The India, China battle to eliminate poverty and illiteracy.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.