Its economy has been growing at the annual rate of 10 percent for most of the last 30 years. It is the largest exporter of goods in the world. Its per capita GDP is close to eight thousand dollars. It recently dislodged Japan to become the second largest economy in the world after the US. Its coastal cities are filled with tall and sturdy buildings, wide roads, high bridges and massive industrial complexes Ė all ready to inject a dose of massive inferiority complex to most Western cities whe n it comes to matters of infrastructure. Yet this country of 1.3 billion is ruled from Beijing by the Communist Party.
To learn more out about the software side of China's governance, I kept an open mind when I sat down with a Communist Party official earlier this week in Dalian. His explanations were as follows:
Feedback loops: Contrary to what outsiders think, the Party leadership is not rigid when it comes to making decisions. It does not first decide things then look for supporting arguments. It is open to information coming from all sides Ė from local governments, from the media and from the outsiders. It has a mechanism in place to read, examine and interpret information. This process provides constant feedback to the Party with regard to how it is perceived, how its decisions are being played out, and what needs to be done next.
Social experiments: Because political leaders in villages and cities are party members, the party can afford to run many small-scale social experiments and keep tabs on progress. For instance, it may start a new employment scheme in a small city, and monitor the results. If the results are satisfactory, the party may then roll out the scheme to several cities. At any time, there are thousands of such small social experiments that are going on, all providing feedback to the party, which discards what doesn't work and scales up what works.
Media: The party exercises considerable control over what gets printed, broadcast and transmitted over the Internet. But the people do not mind this sort of control as much as outsiders think. Taking a deep interest in the media helps the party understand people's thoughts and voices, and act accordingly. This is an example of caring for the people so that they do not fall prey to bad elements. Of course, the outsiders may say that the party cares too much about the media.
Adaptability: Outsiders have this mistaken view that the party is a rigidly doctrinaire Marxist-Maoist entity. It is not. It is fairer to look at it as a way of governance that has imbued communism with Chinese characteristics, foremost among which is being practical about things. It is more important to be practical than stick only to theories. The way Chinese leaders groom their successors is an example of being practical. Overall, the party is flexible, practical and adaptable to new information and ideas. Communist parties elsewhere failed to adapt, and became less relevant. Being adaptable helps the party to reach to new information and makes the decision-making process match what is actually going on in reality.
I was struck that the official described the party as a kind of Hayekian computer: feeding on millions of random bits of information to come up with practical decisions that are likely to have good consequences. True, much of it could be just spin. But there's no mistaking that amidst China's economic transformation, which started in 1987 and seems visibly hardware-led today, the software side of governance appears to have evolved over the years -- both as a matter of practical necessity and to assert China's interests in the world.
1. Ram Prasad
A good piece. What we are witnessing today in China is quite similar to the Song-era China, when it was one of the most developed and cosmopolitan empires. One important point that the official didn't explain: the membership of the party. Once you understand how the party recruits its members, you pretty much know the reason behind China's impressive growth. To become a CCP member, you need to have good grades and¬†recommendations. Gone are the days when you could become a member based on your class credentials. In a way, the meritocracy of bygone days is back. Unlike dogmatic (and crazy) folks running the show ¬†in Nepal, there you have brilliant and pragmatic officers who are well-exposed and know what is happening in the world and that is the reason behind CCPs success in transforming China. Now compare that with our context: the number of people (class enemies) killed, years spent in prison and your ability to chant slogans gets you established in politics.¬†
And unlike what the western media wants us to believe, many Chinese do not care about politics and are fine with CCP's rule as it is making them richer. Maybe freedom of this and that does not apply to China. Could it be that the Chinese see themselves as different and due to nationalism and other factors, the more richer China gets, the more it wants to preserve its difference or, its essence? Although politically incorrect, I believe it is exactly what is happening there today. Simply put, the more the West wants China to change, the more it wants to rely on its Confucian mode of governance, in which the ruler listened to all and made sure that the order was maintained in his realm. A perfect example is that of the Qing dynasty China: The Qing rulers were the khan of the Khans, patron of Tibetan Buddhism and at the same time, governed with the Confucian ethics. Today's CCP rulers follow the same practice and avoid favoring one group over the others.¬†
To sum up, I believe China's transformation owes much to its leaders striking a balance between modernity and tradition and not following the Western ways blindly. Mao's failure was by and large due to his total disregard for the Chinese ways, and his successors' success pretty much is due to knowing when to apply confucianism and when to apply western economic theories.¬†
23 SEPT 2011 | 10:50 AM NST
2. Ram Prasad
fact check: "China's economic transformation, which started in 1987", the reform started in 1978.¬†
23 SEPT 2011 | 10:52 AM NST
The Chinese government is sitting on a volcano and has to forcibly repress all dissent because it is so deeply hated by a large majority of the Chinese people.
No wonder the "democrats" of Nepali Times are filled with admiration!
23 SEPT 2011 | 7:30 PM NST
4. chandra gurung
Wow Ram Prasad. Where do you work? In propaganda department of Chinese Embassy?
23 SEPT 2011 | 8:59 PM NST
If you hate Nepali Times so much, Arthurji, stop reading it. And spare us your knee jerk comments, you commie.
23 SEPT 2011 | 11:00 PM NST
Arthur, the point here is not to admire the Chinese Communist Party and tout it as a model of some sort, but to understand what it thinks of itself, and how it presents itself to the world.
You probably know a lot more about China to reach the conclusions that you do. That's fine. I don't, and prefer to first seek to understand multiple perspectives, of which the party's view of itself is one among many.¬†
So, I kept an open mind -- fully knowing that when you talk to any party official anywhere in the world, be it Dalian or Delhi, you get your share of spin. That's life. ¬†
24 SEPT 2011 | 8:21 AM NST
7. Arthur ashu #6, talking to officials with an open mind is fine.
But if your mind was really open you would not just echo what they say but also talk to the much larger numbers of Chinese who hate them.
Then you could compare and contrast what you hear from different sides.
Why do you think they need such tight control if they are not widely hated?
24 SEPT 2011 | 3:17 PM NST
8. who cares
with your kind of attitude, maoist attacked some ambassador, behave yourself or¬†you could be next.¬†¬†
24 SEPT 2011 | 6:44 PM NST
"But if your mind was really open you would not just echo what they say but also talk to the much larger numbers of Chinese who hate them."
Let us see how this principle would apply to Kamred Arthur.
But if your mind was really open you would not just echo what the Maoists say but also talk to the much larger numbers of Nepalis who hate them.
24 SEPT 2011 | 7:31 PM NST
10. surya baral
I read two articles in main Nepali newspapers this week about China (kantipur and Nepali Times). It is sad that they both ended up propagating the Chinese partyline in a blatant way.
In Kantipur, Sudhir Sharma frankly admits that, after the first day's debacle in finding restaurant on his own, they took a Chinese chaperone wherever they went. Obviously, then they heard what the party wanted them to hear. They saw what their bare eyes could see. They didn't scratch the surface to see what is beneath it. They didn't know it, and it may be due to their own inability, but what they saw was what the party wanted them to see, and in both cases, they ended up reporting what party's men wanted them to report because they were so limited in their mean and energy that they couldn't do otherwise. In Ashu's case, he says he wated to report communist party leader's perspective. What other perspective did he learn? Did he talk to any non Communist Party leaders? Did he talk to free university professor? The headline yesterday in Asia Pacific was the big riot by farmers which was going in Guangdong province, did they know it?
Both Sudhir and Ashu are smart people, and they are not the ones who would categorically support Chinese Party, but they ended up doing just that. In Sudhir's case, he even reports many things erroneously, besides showing us his laziness by not reporting the names of cities properly. This is sad, because Nepali people evidently deserve a better, deeper understanding of their neighbor.
Many Nepali left leaders go to North Korea, and become very excited after seeing high rises and sleek roads. They come back and report how prosperous NK is. China's progress is real, but the rampant corruption in that country is also real. No, it is not a fair society, and the communist party is also a fake party that wants to control China as long as it can, and they are driving along the turnspike, knowing fully well that, like in movie Speed, if they slow down, there will be a blast. China's progress is not due to communist party, but in spite of it. Chinese people are great, innovative people, and are bound to do economically well.¬†
I hope that one day, our writers/journalists will carry more analytical pieces than merely reporting partyline in one or another pretext. I hope that one day we will understand China better--especially what is going on outside of the cities, outside of the party, ¬†in innovative circles of writers, painters and moviemakers, among Chinese philosophers, among rioting farmers and workers.
24 SEPT 2011 | 8:53 PM NST
#3 Arthur - "hated by large majority" is an opinion that you are entitled to. but, if you also want to be entitled to facts, then point to some survey or study, please? unless you do, your statement remains non-credible.
#7 Arthur - here you make a good point. i agree with you. we should expect more from ashu (columnist? journalist?). just "echoing" one side is not good journalism.
24 SEPT 2011 | 10:35 PM NST
Such brilliant comments from citizens of a country that ranks among the lowest in every category related to quality of human life! China doesn't need lectures from pathetic creatures who thrive in stinking cities, whose leaders are puppets, and who make good case studies in politics and economics classes around the world in how not to run country affairs.
US, the ultimate example of ravenous vampire capitalism, had long complained of China not doing enough to 'open up' to the world, and for not adopting capitalism. China not only did both but also outclassed US in its own game. There will always be a big gap between rich and poor, whether it's US, Russia or China, or even the so-called socialist democracies of the Scandinavia. If Chinese are fed up with their government, dissent will brew and be rampant and Chinese situation will implode, without aid of benevolent US or its cronies. Let them continue their way of governance and the self-awareness of the Chinese people will dictate the direction of the future of China. They don't need editorials and opinions of the most shameless and uncivilized of people of this planet.¬†
24 SEPT 2011 | 11:47 PM NST
13. Tashi Lama
Getting Rich is Glorious! But how and in which sense? Ashutosh ji? Don't be fooled by just seeing those colorful and high rise buildings, the bitter truth of reality is hidden deep beneath!
It is historical that chairman Mao-Tsetung came into power in the name of people's revolution, with a slogan of equality and liberation for all, all the poor working class people and the peasants in China supported him with much hope for better tomorrow, but in reality it ended up with a deaths of millions in prison and with famine all over China.¬†
In front of public Mao appeared like a common comrades, with his patched up coats and pants, his usual eloquent speech of liberation and equality for all goes on, talked much against capitalist countries, after all capitalism is much hated for them verbally. Behind the public scene, Mao lived in a very luxurious resident, with delicious food all the times, but his followers starving to death few miles away. Each week, he sleeps with most beautiful and intelligent women,¬†
each time with different women. Mao was always accompanied by two personal doctors, one for his physical health and one for his sexual power, this was the true reality during Mao's era, even though China itself was in very poor ¬†shape. Then came the Deng's era, who opened China's economy with a slogan "Getting Rich is Glorious" but access to get rich in China is only accessible to it's high ranking elites of chinese Communist politburo members and their near ones only. The recent study on the ratio showed that 80% of rich people are high raking government officials and their relatives, private business people not associated with the power politics has to go through many hurdles to get rich. This is the reality and true picture of present China, where it's people are oppressed, where there is no freedom of speech and where there is no transparent government which is ruled by one party with one system.
I think it is foolish to get surprised by seeing the riches in China, knowing not the true reality behind those riches, which are soaked with bloods of many millions in China!¬†
24 SEPT 2011 | 1:42 AM NST
Looks like Ashu and Sudhir went on a Chinese junket and reported what they were given. What is wrong with that? Give them a break. They need a holiday too.
Standard practice in journalism and the media industry to simply reprint press releases.
25 SEPT 2011 | 8:30 AM NST
Arthur, eventually, realized what we call popular democracy, has not substitute, but we need to honor the majority views. Fellow commentator (my most respected commentator, JANGE, and I am real fan of him) Jange re-wrote, "
But if your mind was really open you would not just echo what the Maoists say but also talk to the much larger numbers of Nepalis who hate them.
" Arthur might come again say that he was writing the statement on behalf of Chinese people, and it cannot be applied to Nepali People as they don't deserve it, and for Nepali people Maoists remain messiah. I believe that Arthur has a conflict of interest that is why in the case of Nepal he is running propaganda in favor of Maoists. Dr. DK aka Arthur, sooner or later your true face will be known to public, and this statement will hunt you down in future. You became too weak in your position. That statement was your state of honest mind, and all other past comments were representing state of¬† your greed, and arrogance. You just wanted to be unique here, just like I met one Nepali PhD student in one very recognized university, who said to me in my residence that he always favors defends the one whose views are in minority, so that he can be unique. One day when we talked about a criminal who was so bad in his action, and the student was defending the criminal because he wanted to be unique. When we have equal numbers on two sides of a topic, then he put his opinion based on his real knowledge on the topic. Today, you did it exactly like the student. Thank you for the statement.
25 SEPT 2011 | 8:58 PM NST
At the first blush, Ashu tried to talk of nice things about our northern neighbor.But the legacy of the Maoism he no more talks about, and that's quite uncomfortable, any old how!
All those who are a bit nosy, as always, can find things not very recommendable in China. As we ain't here to take umbrage at what goes well in China we only hope that this courageous populace shall overcome all unknown drawbacks in the ether's of time..
For once, in comparison with the Occident, the latter has ushered in the era of the Third Industrial Revolution (TIR). The 1st and 2nd were for instance, always linked with the energy - The 1st was coal associated with vapor and train, the 2nd was associated with liquid oil and the uplift of aviation, Information technology (IT) and computing. For now, the 3rd TIR shall be all gas and ethereal. For instance, the energy shall be produced individually at home or in the respective societies. It shall be possible thanks to the Hydrogen (H2) gas which shall be available at all levels of life, starting from the means of tranports such as vehicles, electromagnetism, lighting et al.
We all have this willingness to think big by confronting controversial questions. But the civilization never stops. This is one of the ways to take a chance to introspect and accept where things might have gone wrong.!?!
28 SEPT 2011 | 2:00 PM NST
so one sided article. have anyone talked to minorities in different parts of China. Thank God, internet allows us to know the fact fast. Chinese dictators cant stop that. Behind every progress, there is big gapping hole. If so, why would chinese have bigger domestic security budget than their defense budget. surprise surprise. China is just next in line after Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria and Yemen. Power to the ordinary people.
28 SEPT 2011 | 7:46 PM NST
18. chandra gurung
Somebody please translate what B2B (#16) wrote above.
28 SEPT 2011 | 10:52 PM NST
Just google Jeremy Rifkin's 'The Third Industrial Revolution' (TIR). It will show you as to how best the EU is trying to tailor its future by adapting the new mechanisms of technological progress.¬†
Maybe you out there in the 'third world' according to Arial Hoffington's essay do not see the rapid transformation of the world, but we here in the EU are put into this transformation or follow the world of decadence.
Honestly, sometimes we are forced to use the hyperbole in order to stride toward a purposeful life.
29 SEPT 2011 | 11:04 AM NST
20. chandra gurung
Some people simply don't get it, do they? Are you a dazed first year college student just introduced to a few books?
29 SEPT 2011 | 11:54 PM NST
Everything ain't hunky-dory! Now you started catching a few local twangs which perfectly suit your standard of SLC, 3rd division!! Now a dishwasher in the US of A.
Oh, do not walk too much on your head if you do not want to go bald. Or are you already bald from inside!?!