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China modernizes, “Democracy” faith wavers

July 3rd, 2012 23 comments

I am now anxious to watch the debate between Eric X Li and Minxin Pei at the recent Aspen Ideas Festival, where the topic was “China and Democracy.” Once the video is available, I’ll post. The debate was moderated by The Atlantics’ James Fallows, who actually admits himself here biased. So, perhaps the debate was 1 vs 1 where Pei having gotten a partial referee on his side. Interestingly, J.J. Gould, a deputy editor from the same paper, was in the audience and recounts some key arguments put forth by the three. Not having had access to the actual debate yet, I decided to weight in on Gould’s recount. For Americans, and Westerners in general, there is a great deal of anxiety when it comes to China modernizing. China’s rise challenges their notion that modernity must be predicated on “Democracy.” Actually, if you think about it, why must China’s success challenge that notion? The simple psychology there is, as Henry Kissinger recently observed in his book, “On China:” America (and the West which she leads) pursues her “values with missionary zeal.” They see China as not a “Democracy.” Hence the title of the debate is what it is, isn’t it? I wager there are many Westerners who are sincere in wishing for what the best is for Chinese society. However, much of the anxiety really stems from zeal and intolerance for any other way. In that light, I am countering Pei and Fallows’ assertions.

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