On 9 March, 2009, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported that “China will never adopt Western-style democracy with a multi-party system,” referring to comments made by Parliament chief Wu Banggou that “Communist party leadership should be strengthened and ‘the correct political orientation' maintained” [“China ‘will not have democracy,' par. 1-3]. The unprecedented economic growth in the People's Republic of China (PRC), and its maintenance of a one-party totalitarian government, challenges the hypothesis that advanced structural, socio-economic development is correlated with the transition from an authoritarian to a democratic state.
In fact, since the late 1970s and early 1980s, rather than produce political reform, economic growth has resulted in the consolidation of authority by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) at the expense of the democratic protest-movements of 1987 and 1989. Foreign-investment, the growth of an educated middle-class, urbanization, and a burgeoning free-market have not produced a democratic state in China. As such, the aforementioned hypothesis requires re-evaluation. The essay will focus a comparative analysis on the successful conditions of political transition in Japan, and the authoritarian, one-party situation contrasted by the PRC, to determine whether structural forces enable a multi-party, liberal democratic state.
[...] By further researching and exploring the factors hampering such change, nations wishing to topple dictatorships and positively affect democratic transition could adjust their foreign policy to confront these obstacles. It must be noted that such measure do not necessarily equate to hard or military policy, as was the underlying condition for the creation and imposition of democratic rule in Japan, but could include trade embargoes and diplomatic sanctions consistent with soft policy initiatives. The overthrow of authoritarian, state-driven government in Eastern Europe, as exemplified by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), in the latter decades of the twentieth century provides such an account for these foreign policy procedures. [...]
[...] Coupled with Marxist- Leninist ideology, obedience to the autocratic state is a traditional idea at odds with the principles of individuality and humanistic liberties at the root of democratic ideals. The ideological power of nationalism and obedience to the state, manifest by the CCP, presents a conditional obstacle to democratic transition. Identifying the conditional obstacles to democratic reform in China provides an insight as to why the country remains gripped by dictatorship. Unfortunately, when placed against Crouch and Morley's theorem, no single and clear answer is readily available. [...]
[...] Having been established by the Marxist- Leninist framework popular in Russia and other postwar Socialist satellite- states, democratic constitution and government was not likewise imposed by an external power in China as it was in Japan. Rather, the saga of dramatic growth, development, and prosperity incurred by economic improvements to the country did not occur until the reforms of Deng Xiaoping in 1978. Only recently has the PRC experienced rapid social mobilization and macroeconomic prosperity and, despite its thirty year history of financial reform, it has nonetheless remained controlled by a centrally-organized autocratic bureaucracy. [...]
[...] It follows that social, cultural, and economic factors necessary to sustain democratic transition exist in a country before it is able to enact regime change; however, they are insufficient to invoke regime change but are in fact contingent upon political situation. For Crouch and Morley, the imposition of democracy on Japan are not inconsistent with their theory: the situation was ripe for political reform even if it may not have been caused by agents within the nation. In contrast to the historical conditions of Japan's democratic reforms, the PRC was not occupied by Allied forces following the Second World War. [...]
[...] For Crouch and Morley, whether the political mobilization spawned from economic growth results in a transition toward a democratic institution (and furthermore, whether that democracy is sustained) depends upon that country's structural advancement and the involvement of the state in absorbing newfound political awareness. If political conflict is viewed as a confrontation between old and new mobilized groups, Crouch and Morley suggest that the state desires limited opposition to its status quo authority: state's primary interest is to prevent the emerging groups from being organized in hostility to [its] purposes” . [...]
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