Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, February 23, 2015

Let's get this right

Here's a Chinese defense of its political and cultural values.

How well can your students critique it?

Why should China say no to "wrong Western values"?
The West breathed a collective sigh when Chinese education minister recently vowed to ban "wrong Western values" in universities.

Those who follow the antiquated paradigm of autocracy versus democracy will invariably label the announcement as ideological tightening and claim China is closing the door to western culture.

But this sort of conclusion, without prudent review of why the Chinese government resists these "wrong Western values" or the context of this decision, is in itself wrong.

China does not oppose the ideas of liberty, democracy, equality and human rights, which are among the core values of western culture. In fact, these concepts are included in the Constitution. However, China's understanding of these concepts may differ to the West…

There is no universal criteria to judge political values. Therefore, China must assimilate western values within its own political culture. Otherwise, it could ruin the future and fate of the entire nation.

China has always stressed the protection of human rights, which are the basic goals of countries seeking for good governance. However, it holds different values from the Western thought that human rights are natural born.

China holds that the concept of human rights depends on objective conditions, like history, traditions, and economic and social development, thus, there is no universal concept of human rights.

Unlike western countries, which pay more attention to liberty, protection of private property and other civil and political rights, China, a developing country, prioritizes the right to subsistence and development.

In addition, humans do not only have civil and political rights, but also economic, social and cultural rights.

Liberty is cherished the world over, including in China. In the political spectrum, liberty is a symbol of Western political thought that is based mainly on the individual. Chinese traditions and Marxist ideology, however, is based on collective liberalism…

China did not just stumble upon its current political system by accident, nor did it happen by random invention.

It is a result of a laborious processes of trial and error; reflection and institutionalization. During this process, some western concepts such as multiparty elections and the separation of powers were proved unsuitable for China' s development.

History has told the Chinese that denying the leadership of the CPC and socialism leads to chaos and stagnation…

As for political systems, China welcomes equal discussion and study, rather than criticism or lack of consideration of others' conditions.

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