In his latest essay (in both Chinese and English), Eric X. Li wrote, “Many developing countries have already come to learn that democracy doesn’t solve all their problems. For them, China’s example is important. Its recent success and the failures of the West offer a stark contrast.” Of course, Li is not arguing that democratic systems are invalid. He merely argues that the universality claim is invalid. He also explains how China’s system is meritocratic, and despite a single-party rule, is able to be very adaptable. For those who genuinely believe in universality, they would do well by explaining why a country as rich and as powerful as the United States is plagued with problems of dismal approval for her politicians and incessant budget crisis nationally and locally.
Henry Kissinger often characterizes American foreign policy as one of pursuing values with missionary zeal. Perhaps the crux of the issue behind the universality claim on democracy is not about values but more about politics. As China propels forward with her own system, third-world countries around the planet will increasingly have more courage to pursue destiny their own way.
Li’s essay offers much more than I dare to summarize. As you know, many of us on this blog follow his work. I strongly recommend our readers heading here for a read. The English version follows the Chinese version. His essay is also being published by Foreign Affairs, but much of the content is behind a pay-wall.