Yes, China is a Republic

February 27, 2019

The first thing we should know is what a republic is, and the oldest known republic is the Netherlands (July 26, 1581).

The Urban Dictionary says a republic is “A system of government ran by elected officials. Not a rare system of government at all. Republic by definition does not imply a concern for human rights or an inclusive democratic system. It just means that a governing body (aristocracy, military, general population, etc.) elected a head of state.”

The Oxford English Dictionary that was first published in 1857 is considered by many the last word on words for over a century. The Oxford says a republic is, “A country that is governed by a president and politicians elected by the people and where there is no king or queen.”

By definition, that makes China a republic. China has its own Constitution, and there are more than 80-million members in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that vote for the country’s elected national leaders, and that includes China’s president. At the village level hundreds of millions of rural Chinese elect their village leaders, and the villagers do not have to be members of the CCP to vote.

China is not the only republic in East Asia.

South Korea started out as an autocratic state with limited political freedom (fancy words for a dictatorship) from 1948 to 1987. There was a military coup in 1961 and General Park ruled until he was assassinated in 1979.

In 1980, martial law was declared in South Korea after the army killed 200 during student demonstrations. Recently, South Korea’s constitutional court upheld a controversial military ban (censorship) on twenty-three books considered subversive. Source: Time

It wouldn’t be until 1986 that South Korea’s constitution was changed and in December 1987, Roh won the first direct presidential election since 1971. The first free parliamentary elections took place in 1988.

Another Asian Republic is Thailand. A Blog about Political Prisoners in Thailand claims that there is no freedom of speech. They claim what you feel or think can get you thrown in jail.

Thailand also passed a Computer Crimes act in 2007. The language in one section sounds similar to language in China’s Constitution that U.S. critics of China often complain about.

In May 2010, Reuters reported that Bangkok was being cleaned up after the worst riots in modern history. “At least 54 people were killed and more than 400 injured in the latest bout of violence which began on May 14. Almost 40 buildings in the city were set on fire and the tourism and retail sectors have been devastated.”

The 1997 Thai Constitution increased legal protections for women and persons with disabilities, but some inequities in the law remained and some protections were not enforced. Violence and societal discrimination against women are still problems. Societal discrimination against hill tribes and religious and ethnic minorities continues. There have been reports of forced labor and child labor. Trafficking in women and children, coerced prostitution and labor are still serious problems. ­­– U.S. Department of State

Then there is Singapore that is also a republic by definition. In fact, Singapore is considered a model republic respected around the world.

However, Human Rights Watch reports, “Singapore remains the textbook example of a politically repressive state,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Individuals who want to criticize or challenge the ruling party’s hold on power can expect to face a life of harassment, lawsuits, and even prison.”

Then there is the United States, a Constitutional Republic where people elect officials that are responsible to run the government according to the U.S. Constitution, a document that was designed by its original authors to be changed through an amendment process.

When the United States became a country on July 4, 1776, there were no political parties and the U.S. Constitution only allowed white men that owned poverty (about 10-percent of the free population in 1776) and were not Jewish to vote for the elected officials that ran a country that had a population of about 2.5 million people (about a half million were slaves). Over time, the U.S. evolved into a multi-party republic that now has almost 330-million people without any legal slaves.  Today, women and minorities are allowed to vote for the elected officials that run the country and its states.  But back in 1776, about two hundred thousand men could vote. The other 2.3 million could not vote and that included the half million slaves.

Fast forward to today: Southeast Asian Refugees Are the Latest Victims of Trump’s Deportation Crackdown. These refugees have been in the United States since the end of the Vietnam War (1955 – 1975), because they fled to survive when the United States pulled its military out of Southeast Asia and left these people stranded after almost twenty years of warfare. If they had stayed, many if not all of these refugees risked execution or prison, because they were Christians and/or supported the United States during the Vietnam War.

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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If China government isn’t a Monarchy or a Dictatorship, what is it? Part 3 of 4

December 12, 2014

Before we move on, let’s take a brief look at the Athenian democracy that was developed around the 5th century B.C. in the Greek city-state of Athens. Even though there is evidence that democratic forms of government existed before the 5th century, ancient Athens is generally believed to be the first democracy.

What did that democracy look like? Athens had a system of direct democracy, in which participating citizens voted directly on legislation and executive bills. But participation was not open to all residents: to vote, one had to be an adult, male citizen, and the number varied between 30,000 and 50,000 out of a total population of around 250,000 to 300,000—about 150,000 were slaves.

In comparison, the membership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is now 86.7 million—men make-up 77 percent of CP’s membership, while woman make up 23 percent—making the CCP the world’s largest political party representing more than 6 percent of China’s population, and slavery is illegal just like it is in the U.S.

In Part 2, I explained why China was not a monarchy or a dictatorship. In this post and in Part 4, I will show why China is becoming more like the republic Dr. Sun Yat-sen may have imagined by combining Western thought with Chinese traditions.

After Mao died, The Communist Party worked for several years to draft the 1982 Constitution, which included term limits of two five-year terms for elected government officials.

If you have read the Chinese Constitution carefully, it is obvious that the U.S. Constitution was used as a model. However, these two documents are not the same.

If the Party leadership is not happy with China’s president, he can be removed after one five-year term. There is even an article of impeachment in China’s Constitution.

China’s first president was Li Xiannian (1983 to 1988). He served one, five-year term, and then he stepped down.

From 1988 to 1993, Yang Shangkun would be China’s president for one five-year term. Deng Xiaoping (born 1904 – died 1997) was the Chairman of the Communist Party from 1983 to 1993, which was ten years—what China’s 1982 Constitution calls for, but Deng never served as the country’s president.

Due to how the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989 was handled, President Yang had to step down at the end of his first, five-year term. The only other way to remove him would have been through impeachment.

In 1993, Jiang Zemin became President and Chairman of the Communist Party. Then in 2003, Hu Jintao became President and Chairman of the Party. His term ended in 2012 when Xi Jinping became president of China.

Continued in Part 4 on December 13, 2014 or return to Part 2

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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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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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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