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Experts say US, China democracy different

[ 2009-05-25 13:25]     字号 [] [] []  
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China has a democracy different from that of the United States, a difference that should be encouraged and acknowledged, US China experts said.

"The US should not tell China what to do," said Yawei Liu, director of the China Program of the Carter Center.

Bruce Dickson, professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, said that outside pressure will not affect the pace of change in China.

The two were speaking on Friday at the congressional-executive hearing on China's democracy over the past three decades and its implications for the US.

China has experimented with elections for villages, townships, counties and even high levels of government and the Communist Party of China or CPC.

In the early 2000s, many citizens demanded their full right to vote and get elected. The demand came in outbursts, which was called by many as the "election storm".

During the past decade village elections have regularly taken place in China's 680,000 villages, said Cheng Li, director of research at Brookings Institution.

Every five years, all eligible voters in China, which is around 900 million people, directly elect representatives for people's congresses at town and county levels. These representatives then elect government leaders, approve budgets and endorse policy at their level. They also elect representatives to higher levels.

"It takes vision, courage and time to make these elections meaningful. Making these elections open does not mean introducing Western style democracy," Liu said.

Li also said that the CPC has adopted some electoral methods to choose members of the CPC Central Committee and other high-ranking leaders.

Scholars at the hearing also highlighted what they thought were present shortfalls in China.

Its political system still dictates that the States operate as the executor of decisions made by the CPC, Li said.

China's village elections are becoming less relevant to the lives of Chinese farmers. The young, educated and informed are working in the cities, Li said. They are unable to run for village committee seats and to participate in these elections.

Land reforms allow farmers to enter into joint ventures. They use their land rights as shares. It seems a new kind of election is emerging in areas that are moving fast on land reform.

"If democracy is an event, China has not made breakthroughs. If it is a process, it is happening in China," Li said.


1. In the early 2000s the demand by many citizens for their full right to vote and get elected came in outbursts. What was it called?

2. How frequently all eligible voters in China can directly elect representatives for people's congresses?

3. Why China's village elections are becoming less relevant to the lives of Chinese farmers?


1. "Election storm".

2. Every five years.

3. The young, educated and informed are working in the cities.

(英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Experts say US, China democracy different

About the broadcaster:

Experts say US, China democracy different

Siberian-born Kristina Koveshnikova is a freelance journalist from New Zealand who has worked in print, television and film. After completing a BCS degree majoring in journalism, she won an Asia NZ Foundation/Pacific Media Centre award to work for China Daily website. Kristina previously did internships at ABC 7 News in Washington DC and TVNZ in New Zealand and has written for a number of publications, including The New Zealand Herald and East & Bays Courier.