What would a Republic in China Look Like? Part 3 of 3

August 11, 2016

To determine what a republic in China would look like, we must also ask how many Chinese would have been allowed to vote in Sun Yat-sen’s republic.

To find out we need to take a closer look at who was eligible to vote in the United States during Sun’s life to discover that most minorities [China has 56] and women in the United States were not allowed to vote. In addition, some American states at the time had literacy laws in place and eligible adult men [mostly minorities] had to pass a literacy test to be able to vote. The first literacy test for voting was adopted by Connecticut in 1855. In fact, ten of the eleven southern states had subjective literacy tests that were used to restrict voter registration, but some of those states used grandfather clauses to exempt white voters from taking literacy tests.

Knowing this, it is highly likely that Sun Yat-sen would have created a republic in China that only allowed educated and wealthy Han Chinese men to vote. Women and children would have remained chattel, the property of men to be bought and sold for any reason as they had for thousands of years, and China’s minorities would have had no rights.

Therefore, once we subtract children, women, minorities, Han Chinese adult males who did not own property and any of those who were illiterate from the eligible voting population, what’s left is less than five percent of the adult population—and the educated Han elite adult males who owned property would have ruled the country. Most of the people in China would have had no voice; no vote.

What about today’s China?

Six-hundred million rural Chinese are allowed to vote in local elections. Only Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members vote in national elections but at last count, there were more than 80 million CCP members; China’s leader—with limited powers—may only serve two five-year terms.

And China has its own form of an electoral college. The President of China is elected by the National People’s Congress [NPC] with 2,987 members [dramatically more than the Electoral College in the United States with its 538 electors]. The NPC also has the power to remove the President and other state officers from office. Elections and removals are decided by a simple majority vote.

There is another significant difference between China’s NPC and America’s Electoral College—members of China’s NPC are elected but members of America’s Electoral College are appointed. This process varies from state to state. Usually, political parties nominate electors at their state conventions. Sometimes that process occurs by a vote of the U.S. party’s central committee. The electors are usually state-elected officials, party leaders, or people with a strong affiliation with the presidential candidates. This means that the American people have no say when those hand-picked 538 electors decide who the next U.S. President will be.

Then there is this fact: China’s culture is influenced by Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism — not Christianity, Islam or Judaism — and all three of these Asian religions/philosophies emphasizes harmony with little or no focus on individual rights as practiced in Europe and North America. Knowing that, it is highly likely that Sun Yat-sen would have supported some form of censorship over individuals in China when too much freedom of expression threatened the nation’s harmony.

But the pressure on China to become a democracy is for China to copy the United States with no consideration for its history and unique cultural differences. I wonder why.

Return to Part 2 or start with Part 1

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.

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What would a Republic in China Look Like? Part 2 of 3

August 10, 2016

Sun Yat-sen [1866 – 1925] was considered the father of China’s republic both on the mainland and Taiwan, and he was introduced to the United States in 1882 when he attended a Christian school in Hawaii. That experience exposed him to American politics, and later he wrote that he wanted to model China’s government after America but by combining Western thought with Chinese tradition.

To learn about the United States that Sun Yat-sen discovered, we must step back in time and examine America’s political structure then.

William P. Meyers.org says, “After the British were defeated a centralized, national government was seen by George Washington and company not as a method of extending freedom and the right to vote, but as a way of keeping control in the hands of rich. They wrote several anti-democratic provisions into the U.S. Constitution. Slavery was institutionalized. The Senate was not to be elected directly by the people; rather Senators were to be appointed by state legislatures. The President was not to be directly elected by the voters, but elected through an electoral college. The Supreme Court was to be appointed. Only the House of Representatives was elected directly.”

But by 1920, five years before Sun died, the right to vote was extended to women in the United States in both state and federal elections, but where was Sun Yat-sen when this happened? He was in China leading a rebellion and struggling to build a multi-party republic that included the Communist and Nationalist parties, and his ideas of what a republic would look like in China had formed decades before women got the vote in the U.S.

The political climate that existed in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries will show us what Sun learned about politics in America. For instance, there was the Chinese Exclusion Act passed by Congress in the spring of 1882 that was still in force. It wouldn’t be until 1942, years after Sun’s death, that the act would be repealed.

In addition, in 1922, the US Supreme Court ruled that people of Japanese heritage could not become naturalized citizens. The following year the Supreme Court ruled that Asian Indians also could not become citizens, and the law that barred Native American’s from voting wasn’t removed until 1947.

How about the way children were treated in the United States?

Well, children could be sold into slavery by their parents and end up working in factories, coal mines and even whore houses as young as seven. It wouldn’t be until 1938 that a federal law stopped this form of child slavery in the United States. America’s Civil War [1861 – 1865] may have ended black slavery but it didn’t free women and children of any race, and the Equal Rights Amendment has still not passed.

Continued with Part 3 on August 11, 2016 or start with Part 1

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

For August 2016 Promotion

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What would a Republic in China Look Like? Part 1 of 3

August 9, 2016

The mainland Chinese have many choices to choose from when it comes to a democracy. They could copy the first democracy in Athens, but the Athenian democracy had slavery and women couldn’t vote. In the 4th and 5th century BC, all male citizens (about 40,000 to 60,000) in Athens had equal political rights, freedom of speech, and the opportunity to participle directly in the political arena, but women, slaves (as many as 80,000) and foreign residents were excluded.  – Athenian Democracy: a brief overview

What about the United States at its birth as a republic? Well, only white men who owned property and were not Jews were allowed to vote. That was about 10 percent of the population, and in 1790 there were 697,897 slaves in America. – Slave Population of United States: 1790 – 1860

Around that time, the U.S. resident population in 1790 was about 3.9 million. If we subtract the slaves, that leaves 3.2 million meaning that about 300,000 men were allowed to vote.

There are 192 countries in the world and only 123 (or 64 percent) are considered democracies, but China is often criticized the most for not being what is considered a democracy. Why aren’t the other 68 countries that are not democracies criticized: for instance, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Bahrain, Oman, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Equatorial Guinea, Chad, Uganda, Rwanda, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, Singapore, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan – maybe it is because these authoritarian regimes are all supported by the United States but mainland China isn’t?

However, China might already be a democratic republic, because few if any outside of China considers that the political structure of today’s China might be closer to Sun Yat-sen’s vision than the democracy we find in the United States. After all, Sun Yat-sen is considered the father of China’s republic by both Taiwan and Beijing. In fact, mainland China, ruled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), may offer the Chinese people more of a voice than the republic Sun Yat-sen was building before his death.

Continued with Part 2 on August 10, 2016

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

For August 2016 Promotion

Where to Buy

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline