Professor Daniel Saadoun distinguishes three features that are deemed essential in a modern democracy: universal suffrage, the inscription in the preamble of the Constitution of a set of rules that the State cannot modify or erase and the obligation for the State to look after all the rules adopted: the State is not beyond the Law i.e, the principle of Rule of Law. As expected, China is far from reaching all these requirements. Any kind of popular expression is prohibited. There is no such thing as a Declaration of Human Rights, because the major tenets of the regime's political philosophy are not based on an abstract conception of the human beings, for example, freedom of religion is unconceivable in China, were Christian parishioners and Falun Gong practitioners are actively persecuted. Yet, the third characteristic feature of a modern democracy, Rule of Law, is being achieved at least partly today in China. Since 1989, the technocratic rule has emphasized the necessity to implement and take care over the rights of workers, peasants etc. These changes can lead us to cast doubt on the real democracy forces in China, apart from a minority of students and pundits. Has the democratic ideal really been replaced by the day-to-day progress of Rule of Law? Is China's mix of economic performance and Rule of Law really viable? Has China staged a new paradigm of modernization? Or, is this move towards Rule of Law something only transitional, periodical, that will not prevent China from democratization, eventually? In this case, should we favor a bottom-up or a top-down approach for China's move towards democracy?
[...] Furthermore, the Party has been thriving for more than a decade on the premise that Rule of Law is suitable to single-party rule, and that China is able to develop its own path towards modernization, no matter what it means. This was a way to reassert China's specificity in comparison with Occidental Countries, and a way of telling people that their problems could be resolved, laying the emphasis on rationality and efficiency. These changes can lead us to cast doubt on the real democracy forces in China, apart from a minority of students and pundits. [...]
[...] More worryingly, as Qianfan Zhang remarks, judges' salaries and the funds for court operations come mostly from the local government budgets and are subject to the threat of reduction whenever the court decisions adversely affects the local interest.” In these conditions, the application of Rule of Law seems to be difficult, both parts having a vested interest in not abiding by the rules. Finally, local protectionism completely weakens the ability of the judges to enforce a uniform law. Of course, the head of the CCP is not threatened by these abuses, because peasants and workers whose rights have been violated distinguish between local officials and higher officials: they ask the party to retaliate and repeal unacceptable measures such as the C&R measures. [...]
[...] Yet Rule of Law, conceived by the CCP is an original form of political power that respects the rights of individual without having it intervene in political affairs, and it appears to be only transient in China, because the gap between a fast-growing pluralistic society and single-party rule is enlarging, and because a completely achieved Rule of Law is incompatible with single-party rule. The model of economic performance and technocratic stability thus appears to be unsustainable in the long run. [...]
[...] That would not be possible in China because no leader would accept that the ethnical differences in China constitute clashing political groups; it would ruin the very existence of the Chinese country. This concept of a Rule of Law regime that is now being implemented, though facing difficulties, proves efficient empirically. Indeed, the people are more attracted by a system in which their day-to-day problems regarding employment, hukou, corruption or abuses by police forces are well- addressed, than a system surely virtuous, but full of fanciful ideas that have no meaning for them. [...]
[...] However, this vision has been mainly sustained by conservative thinkers, blinkered and unable to see, first, that the party is willing to abide by the rules when they do not jeopardize its stability and prominence, as shown in the handling of the Sun Zhigang case, and second, that democratization is unavoidable if Rule of Law is to be truly implemented. As Gunter Schubert puts it, is hardly imaginable that the development of a legal system can be sustained without the concurrent rise of interests groups that addresses the Rule of Law to fight for their political emancipation. [...]
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