Each leader of the People’s Republic is remembered by an overarching, guiding ideology.
Mao Zedong left his legacy with Mao Zedong Thought 毛泽东思想; Deng Xiaoping with the Deng Xiaoping theory 邓小平理论. Then came Jiang Zemin and the Three Represents 三个代表 in 2000; and Hu Jintao with Scientific Development outlook 科学发展观 in 2007 that for the first time, saw public diplomacy and soft power . To be leader of 1.3 billion requires more than just clout, it seems an updated grand narrative as calling card in line with the previously intricately marked out stages of development have to be in place. What will Xi Jinping’s be? The West contends China will become more democratic. Will it, must it?
The Sydney Morning Herald is suggesting, along with some others that the Chinese intend to use Singapore as a model for Chinese democracy. They do share some interwoven characteristics, meritocracy, authoritarian capitalism, one-party rule, and Confucian-value systems indoctrinated through textbooks and norms. But they only extend as far as socio-political constructs and institutions go. Culturally however, they are not the same.
Singapore’s former foreign minister George Yeo puts it best –
On why Singapore, a young nation of just over five million people, is of interest to China, an ancient civilisation with 1.3billion people, he says: “For China, Singapore is sometimes seen as a bonsai, but one with genetic similarities.” S’pore is ‘only one bonsai that China looks at’ in the Straits Times, November 1, 2012
In any case, most Chinese I speak to have an answer for this – Singapore is too small to be a model for the whole of China. While there are bits and pieces the Chinese have been gleaning from the island-state, is the Singapore model scalable upwards to 1.3 billion?
The piece in Study Times explains the attraction for China’s leaders. ”Since 1968, the People’s Action Party has won consecutive elections and held state power for a long time, while ensuring that the party’s high efficiency, incorruptibility and vitality leads Singapore in attaining an economic leap forward,” writes Song Xiongwei, a lecturer at the Chinese Academy of Governance. Sydney Morning Herald, October 30 2012
“The Singapore model has been admired by most Chinese leaders and Xi might see Singapore’s success as the dreamed accomplishments of his rule in coming decade,” said Zhang Ming, a political scientist at Renmin University. South China Morning Post, October 23, 2012
See also – a rather engaging religious analysis of the Hartcher article here – Singapore’s “Democracy” – The Lessons for Applying the Gospel?
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Singapore a model for Chinese democracy
by Peter Hartcher
Source – Sydney Morning Herald, published October 30, 2012
Illustration: John Shakespeare. Source – Sydney Morning Herald, 2012
China’s incoming president, Xi Jinping, will take power formally in three weeks, yet he’s given no public hint of his plans. But he gave an intriguing glimpse to the Westerner he’s spent more time with than any other.
After a total of 10 days together across a year or so, Xi left the US Vice-President, Joe Biden, with one clear impression. He does not think that China’s political system can continue indefinitely, according to people Biden has briefed.
But while the inheritor of the one-party dictatorship does not think it will last in its current form, neither does he have a clear idea of what should replace it, Biden said. Read the rest of this entry »
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