Pre Xi Jinping
In recent years, when Hu Jintao was in power, there was some hope that China would be able to become a democracy. In fact, Hu and others pushed for china to become one. This is seen in Hu Jintao’s speech that was made September of 2010 in Hong Kong when he addresses democracy. Hu states, “There is a need to … hold democratic elections according to the law; have democratic decision-making, democratic management, as well as democratic supervision; safeguard people’s right to know, to participate, to express and to supervise” (theguardian.com). The main challenge according to Derek Harkness who lives and works in China, believes that having a fair election without fraud is nearly impossible.
There has been recent news all over television and the internet lately. That news is the shattered hopes that are taking place for a rise in China’s democracy. Since Xi Jinping came into power, it is said that he is the most powerful leader since Mao Zedong who ruled from 1949 to 1976 (abcnewsgo.com). Xi Jinping’s been given so much power now that he is now called the chairman of everything, and China is going to give the rights for Xi Jinping to stay in power for life.
For years, once Deng Xiaoping came into power with the Jiang coalition, there was hope that China would develop a democracy, but now that Xi Jinping has been in power, almost all hope of developing a democracy is now gone. The hope for democracy is now backsliding, and here is how and why:
- China Abolishing term limits: On February 26, 2018, China’s Communist Party proposed that there be an end to the two-year limit for presidency from the country’s Constitution. “China’s legislature officially abolished presidential term limits on Sunday, a move that may have been driven by President Xi Jinping’s fears of factional warring and even failed coup attempts inside the Communist Party” (businessinsider.com). This allows Xi Jinping to rule as long as he lives which allows him to make any decision he wants and he cannot be penalized for making the wrong decision.
- Executive Coups: Executive coupes is when a leader puts aside rules of the constitution in order to be able to do what he wants. Xi Jinping insisted on China being able to allow him to rule as long as his lives and he wants this because of his fear of failed coups.
- Manipulating Elections Strategically: In 2013 when Xi Jinping was running to be the leader, critics mock these elections and say they are manipulated by local Communist party officials.
- Being more feared than respected: In the beginning of Xi Jinping’s rule, it was believed that he was more respected than feared. People of China loved him and his beliefs of trying his best to get rid of corruption, which was just telling the people what they want to hear. Now, according to slate.com, Xi Jinping is now more fear than respected. This is because he is in control of all major appointments in the country, i.e. the military, and anti-corruption bureau. And he is now more feared because he is way more ruthless and confident than the previous leader Hu was.
- Fake News: China is known to deliver fake news to its people. A study by Gary King of Harvard University, Jennifer Pan of Stanford University, and Margaret Roberts of University of California San Diego in 2016 showed that China has its own reasons for virtually-manufacturing the political landscape: boosting President Xi Jinping’s image by spreading pro-regime propaganda” (observer.com). This has led to over 488 million social media posts of “fake news” per year. The main difference between China and the other countries that deal with fake news is that instead of using bots, China pays a group of workers 50 cents a post that consists of fake news. This helps Xi Jinping in which it shows the people that Jinping is the one the people still and always want in charge, but also hurts him because the Jiang Coalition publishes fake news in attempt to get Xi Jinping out of rule. Overall this helps and may hurt Xi Jinping and his rule.
What Will Happen in Years to Come
Since Xi Jinping became ruler, it has diminished hopes of China ever becoming a democracy, especially now that China abolished term limits. For as long as he rules, there will be no democracy in China. Though Xi Jinping wants to put an end to corruption, he is now too powerful and people are too scared to go against him. It will not be possible for China to become democratic until fake news is at a minimum, elections are not manipulated and term limits go back to a max sentence instead of no term limits at all. Overall, once it is all said and done, there is no chance of China becoming a democracy while Xi Jinping is in rule because he wants all the power he can get.
Chotiner, Isaac. “China Was On Its Way to Becoming More Democratic. What Happened?” Slate Magazine, 26 Feb. 2018, slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/02/can-anything-stop-xi-jinpings-power-grab-in-china.html.
Wang, Yanan. “Xi Jinping’s rise shatters hopes for democracy in China.” ABC News, ABC News Network, 12 Mar. 2018, abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/xi-jinpings-rule-shatters-hopes-chinas-liberalization-53674590.
Friday, Francesca. “Study Says China Is the Real Master of Social Media ‘Fake News’.” Observer, Observer, 15 Nov. 2017, observer.com/2017/11/study-shows-how-china-xi-jinping-manipulate-social-media-fake-news/.
Hill, Steven. “China’s tentative steps towards democracy | Steven Hill.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 19 Jan. 2011, www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jan/19/china-barack-obama.