Water — the Democracy versus the Authoritarian Republic

January 10, 2012

The question should be, “Is freedom of expression and of religion more important than water?”

Survival Topics.com says, “People have survived without food for weeks or even months, but go without water for even just one day and the survivor will be in desperate straights indeed.”

However, how long can one go without total freedom of political expression and to join any global religion? The choices of world religions are many. According to Religious Tolerance.org, “There are 19 major world religions which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many smaller ones. 34,000 separate Christian groups have been identified in the world.”

One of the most common complains outside China is that its citizens do not have these two abstract freedoms and all of those religions to choose from—China offers seven approved choices.

This post explores which country is doing a better job of supplying water to its people—China or India.  When you finish reading and watching the two videos, you decide which country you would rather live in if you had to make a choice between them.

The National Geographic special issue, “Water, Our Thirsty World” (April 2007) compares the world’s largest democracy, India, with China. In “The Big Melt” by Brook Larmer, we see a convincing reason why China’s mix of socialism and capitalism may be the world’s answer to avoid future calamities. Where Western style democracies stall due to partisanship, special interests, religious beliefs and political agendas, China’s government, ruled by engineers and scientists, appears to be planning decades ahead.

The claims of Tibetan separatists and their supporters that China rules over Tibet with an iron dictatorial fist also appears to be wrong when Larmer visits a family of Tibetan nomads. He writes, “There is no sign of human life on the 14,000 foot high prairie that seems to extend to the end of the world.” Larmer sees “the NOMADS’ tent as a pinprick of white against a canvas of brown.”

We meet Ba O, a Tibetan nomad. In Ba O’s tent, “there is a small Buddhist Shrine: a red prayer wheel and a couple of smudged Tibetan texts…” A few years earlier, Ba O had several hundred sheep and the grass was plentiful. Now the Tibetan nomad has about a hundred left and fears this way of life is ending.

Ba O says, “This is the way we’ve always done things. And we don’t want that to change.”

But no matter what Ba O wants, change is coming, and there is nothing he can do to stop it. The change is not from China’s government. It is from global warming. The Tibetan grasslands are dying and a way of life that has existed for thousands of years may be dying too.

To insure that the Tibetan nomads will have a place to live, China’s government has been building resettlement villages. The “solid built” houses are subsidized. When the Tibetan nomads can no longer survive on the open Tibetan prairie, it is the nomad’s choice to move into the new villages. The government does not force them to give up their old way of life. Nature does that.

Along with the house comes a small annual stipend for each family so they can eat as they find another way to earn a living. The home Larmer visited had a Buddhist shrine and a free satellite dish for a TV and maybe an Internet connection. In addition, the one child policy does not apply to the Tibetan people since they are a minority in China.

To make sure there will continue to be water to drink, China is planning to build 59 reservoirs in Tibet to capture and save glacial runoff.

In India, by comparison, the young wife of a fortuneteller spends hours each day searching for water. She lives with her husband and five children in Delhi, India‘s capital. There are fights over water. In a nearby slum, a teenage boy was beaten to death for cutting into a water line. The demand for water in Delhi exceeds the supply by more than 300 million gallons a day.

What happens to life when there is no water?


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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Note—This revised and edited post first appeared April 19, 2010 as Water – Two Countries Tell a Tale

A Snapshot of Democracy in Asia – Part 5/6

October 1, 2011

Among the so-called Asian democracies, India is next.  The Guardian says of corruption in India “All your life you pay for things that should be free.”

The Guardian reported that “one ordinary man” had to pay at least a third of his income to survive. “Of the 40,000 rupees (£520) I earn a month from my restaurant, I pay at least a third in bribes,” Vishal, 26, said. But bribery also extends into his personal life. Vishal has two young children and to get the eldest into the best local school he paid a “donation” of 25,000 rupees (£340) in cash to the headmaster.”

Economy Watch.com said, “India’s underground economy is believed to be 50 percent of the country’s GDP – US$640 billion at the end of 2008,” and Janamejayan’s Weblog goes into detail of one scam that cost $40 billion, which is 3% of India’s GDP.

Poverty in India, 2011

In addition, there is confusion over how many live in poverty in India.

In 2009, the United Nations Development Programme reported that literacy in India was about 74 percent, while the CIA Factbook set the literacy rate at 61 percent (literacy and poverty are linked), which explains The World Bank’s estimates of poverty in India at 41.6 percent.

However, the Hindustan Times says for 2011 that there are 406 million poor in India, which is a third of the population—an increase of 8% since 2009.

In addition, a study by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative using a Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) found that there were 645 million poor living under the MPI in India

In 2009, India’s population was about 1.2 billion and the country had 6 nationally recognized political parties and about 46 recognized state/provincial parties. Source: List of Recognized Political Parties in India (Wiki)

India has been the world’s largest democracy since 1947, and although India claims to have reduced poverty from about 53% in 1973-74 to  25.6% in 1999-2000, the definition and difficulty in reporting the exact numbers casts doubt on this claim.

Poverty in Calcutta

However,  in the same time span, China reduced poverty from 64% to less than 3%, and China is not a multi-party democracy.

In addition, according to Time’s Global Spin, a blog about the world, its people and its politics, “The size of India’s middle class was 50 million in 2005, according to this report by McKinsey,” and McKinsey may be wrong and the number may be lower.

In contrast, Martin Trieu, President of Tourmaline Capital, estimates “there are at least 250-300 million people (in China) who now fall into this (middle class) category.”

Helen H. Wang of Forbes Magazine’s China Tracker agrees with Trieu, and says, “Today, China’s middle class is already larger than the entire population of the United States and is expected to reach 800 million in fifteen years.”

Continued on October 2, 2011 in A Snapshot of Democracy in Asia – Part 6 or return to Part 4


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.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.

Considering China as a Democracy – Part 3/3

April 6, 2011

In Parts 1 and 2, we discovered that being a democracy does not protect the people from chaos, anarchy, war and hunger.

In China’s history, there have been many examples of what happens when a central government collapses. Between every great dynasty—the Han, Tang, Sung, Ming and Qing—there have been rebellions, chaos and anarchy causing tens of millions of deaths and hardship.

Another example from the US is the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is common knowledge by those in the know that the FDA is controlled by the food and drug industry and many of the decisions of the FDA benefit industries while hurting the public.

The Washington Post revealed another example of democracy gone wrong when it recently reported on Past Medical Testing on Humans by the US government and American pharmaceutical companies.

In China, when corruption of this type is discovered, the officials caught often face prison and possible execution. In the US, few if any are punished.

In addition, since China has more spoken languages than India along with fifty-six recognized minority groups numbering more than one hundred million people, China would have more political parties competing for votes than India creating the same gridlock and corrupt political environment.

Deng Xiaoping was right in 1989 when he said China wasn’t ready for a Western style democracy.  In fact, China may never be ready.

In the West, there is a wise idiom. “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t,” which means that it is often better to deal with someone or something you are familiar with and know, even if they are not ideal, than take a risk with an unknown person or thing.

However, it is possible that this is exactly what China’s critics and enemies want, as it could spell the end of China’s rise as a soon-to-be economic and military super power rivaling the US.

Return to Considering China as a Democracy – Part 2 or start with Part 1


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.

Considering China as a Democracy – Part 2/3

April 5, 2011

In Part 1, we discovered what happened to India as a multi-party parliamentary democracy.

What does US history teach us?  Since Independence, the US has had several financial crises leading to severe unemployment and economic hardships for many.  The US suffered through financial/economic depressions in 1807, 1837, 1873, 1893, 1929-1939 (known as the Great Depression). Source: San Jose State University Department of Economics

Then there was the recent 2008 global financial crises leading to about 64 trillion dollars in global losses and tens of millions of lost jobs (9 million in the US and about 20 million in China alone).

This global financial collapse had its start in the world’s most powerful democracy and could have been avoided.

Although there have been many predictions in the West that China’s economy will collapse, that hasn’t materialized yet as it has in the US several times.

In fact, soon after the 2008 global financial crises hit, China put the unemployed back to work while importing goods from other nations helping to support those economies to survive the crises.

As The Damned clearly shows, democracy doesn’t always work, and Abraham Lincoln was a tyrant, who plunged the US into the bloodiest war of its history.

This happened again in Vietnam under President Johnson and in Iraq under President G. W. Bush

For example, after the Qing Dynasty collapsed in 1911, instead of an orderly republic replacing it as Sun Yat-sen hoped, China fractured with warlords fighting each other in every province.

Then in 1926, Chiang Kai-shek’s distrust of the Communist Party led to decades of Civil War (1926 – 1949) and unrest instead of cooperation between the two founding parties of Sun Yat-sen’s fledgling republic — the Communist and Nationalist parties.

In Part 3, we will learn from Chinese history and the US today.

Return to Considering China as a Democracy – Part 1


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.

Considering China as a Democracy – Part 1/3

April 4, 2011

Using history, the US and India as examples of what democracy offers may show what might happen in China if it were to become a multi-party republic with a democratic political system.

India became a democracy in 1947, and more than 60 years later, about 40% of the population is still illiterate and lives in severe poverty due to political gridlock and government corruption, while the CIA reports that only 2 1/2 percent of Chinese live in similar poverty today.

For India, that’s 400 million people while China has 33 million living in severe poverty mostly in remote and rugged areas of China.

Thirty years ago, about sixty percent of Chinese lived in severe poverty. When Mao ruled China (1949-1976), 30 to 40 million died from famines. No one has died from famine since Mao’s death.

However, in 2009, the Times of India reported that India tops world hunger chart. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) reported some staggering figures. More than 27% of the world’s undernourished population lives in India while 43% of children (under 5 years) in the country are underweight. The figure is among the highest in the world…

In India, which has a democratic parliamentary political system, there are six recognized national parties and more than forty recognized state parties. Source: Wikipedia

While China’s one political party has managed to almost end poverty and boost literacy from 20 to more than 90% in thirty years, India’s many-party democracy has failed.

In Part 2, we will see why China may not survive to become a successful democracy if US history is an indication of what the future holds.


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.