…. but it was in 2012, during the Obama administration: “Why China’s Political Model Is Superior”
Many have characterized the competition between these two giants as a clash between democracy and authoritarianism. But this is false. America and China view their political systems in fundamentally different ways: whereas America sees democratic government as an end in itself, China sees its current form of government, or any political system for that matter, merely as a means to achieving larger national ends.
The fundamental difference between Washington’s view and Beijing’s is whether political rights are considered God-given and therefore absolute or whether they should be seen as privileges to be negotiated based on the needs and conditions of the nation.
The West seems incapable of becoming less democratic even when its survival may depend on such a shift. In this sense, America today is similar to the old Soviet Union, which also viewed its political system as the ultimate end.
Certainly the elites would be happier today if they’d remembered to take voting rights away from anyone who doesn’t live in a coastal city, thus making the U.S. “less democratic” if not “less Democratic”!
(Regarding the similarity to the Soviet system, Russian immigrant friends say that a big difference is “Back in Russia, we didn’t believe the propaganda.”)
I wonder if this article could get published today, now that the NYT tells us that we have an unbalanced strongman in the White House.
How did this come up? Some Facebook friends were sharing their excitement over the latest strike by government-employed teachers in Chicago (“Still no deal for Chicago Teachers Union, city after marathon talks as walkout enters 9th day”). My comment:
While Americans argue about how much teachers should get paid, people in China are teaching and studying…
Predictably, this was not appreciated by the righteous. Striking workers, even when they’re avoiding teaching American children, are a beautiful sight. They said that it was irrelevant that Chinese students are studying because Chinese schools are of low quality. This was also a good chance to bash Chinese society:
I don’t think we typically hold China as our human rights/equity model.
Are you aware that China is a dictatorship with one official political party?
I replied wondering if China’s political system at the municipal level is that different from what Chicago has. Both Shanghai and Chicago will have one political party, but multiple candidates in elections. I pointed out despite the lack of any partisan division, the Americans in all-Democrat Chicago could not reach a consensus on appropriate pay and the result was an interruption in their children’s education. In China, by contrast, the divisions among people are not so great that it prevents them from continuing to operate schools.
I do wonder why it is socially acceptable for Americans to whitesplain the inferiority of nearly everything that happens in China. Most of the whitesplaining is contradicted by recent GDP growth data and a history of thousands of years of stable government within China (the Ming dynasty alone lasted for longer than the U.S. thus far). But even without these data, why is it always okay to bash China? Whatever the merits of their political system might be, China has not sent its military halfway across the planet to start wars. American Freedom (TM) means an imprisonment rate that is 5X as high as China’s. Whatever the system is for compensating teachers in China, the work is voluntary (i.e., teachers could quit if they don’t like it, just as a schoolteacher in the U.S. could quit (though American teachers are only 1/4 as likely to quit as American workers on average (Fortune)).
The average Chinese citizen does not have a huge say in how government operates, but the same can be said for the average U.S. citizen.
Why is it okay to look at a Chinese achievement, e.g., Tesla building a Shanghai car factory in 168 working days, and then say “well, their system of government is inferior to what we have”?
(Separately, I wonder if the fight around teacher salary is China-related. The average teacher in Chicago under the city’s latest offer will be earning over $100,000 per year within a few years, plus a guaranteed pension and other benefits worth another $100,000/year or so. Yet in a globalized economy with a growing population, including a rapidly growing Chinese middle class, $200,000/year in total compensation isn’t sufficient to command what would be an acceptable (to the teacher) share of resources.)Full post, including comments