Official in China Says Western-Style Democracy Won’t Take Root There

The New York Times reports on an interview given by Li Fei, deputy director of the legislative affairs commission of the standing committee of the National People’s Congress, in which he says that, “a socialist China won’t follow Western election campaigns”:

Mr. Li told China Daily, an official English-language newspaper, that while some people wanted to expand direct , he believed that the priority was to improve on the so-called election system now in place. The Chinese system generally reinforces the rule of the Chinese Communist Party, which has governed the country in an authoritarian manner since 1949, when it won the civil war. Many Western scholars have said elections at local levels have not given voters true alternatives to the Communist Party.

Despite that, Chinese officials often say in public and in the Chinese news media that the country is moving toward , implying that some form of a Western-style political system could take root here.

But there are times when an official states outright that people should not expect Western-style reforms in China. In March 2009, Wu Bangguo, chairman of the standing committee of the National People’s Congress, said China would never “copy” the systems of Western nations by adopting multiparty democracy.

Mr. Li’s interview with China Daily was the latest instance of such blunt talk, and it comes at a time of heightened tensions between China and the West. In particular, relations between China and the United States have hit a rough patch, with no sign that conflicts between the two will be resolved anytime soon. In recent weeks, Chinese leaders have vocally rejected demands by President Obama for China to revalue its currency, which White House officials and some economists say is undervalued, giving China an unfair advantage in world trade.


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