Democracy and Freedom – A Difference of Opinion

December 19, 2010

I’m sure that most Americans (as well educated as they are, and I’m being sarcastic) think all democracies are the same.

They aren’t.

The World Atlas lists 192 countries on the globe and according to Made in Democracies.org, there are 58 democracies. If correct, that means 134 countries are not democracies. This list excludes countries that claim they are democracies but are sanctioned tax havens for secret bank accounts or allow child prostitution.

If you read the entry for Democracy at Wikipedia, you will discover there are many different types of democracies.

The Economists Democracy Index has four categories. The next index from Freedom House has three.

In fact, Freedom House has another chart for Electoral democracies, which shrinks the list further.

There is another for Parliamentary democracies.

The smallest category may be for “liberal democracy” where elections should be free and fair, and the political process should be competitive. Even liberal democracies are divided into categories.

The United States is labeled as a federal republic along with India, Germany and Brazil.

The United Kingdom is listed as a constitutional monarchy along with Japan, Canada and Spain.

The biggest difference between China and most democracies is that China’s republic has one political party, which controls the state-owned media. Yet there are city and regional media in China that often publish opinions that do not appear in the national media. In addition, China’s Blogosphere is very active when it comes to expression and opinions.

In the US, six huge corporations own most of the so-called free media and an American corporation owns only one. Foreign corporations own the other five.

In America, freedom of the press means that conservative talk radio may manipulate public opinion and influence voters through lies and exaggeration, which it often does. We just saw that happen in the 2010 election.


This video explains how America became a democracy dominated by religion
.

In America, corporate lobbyists or special interest groups such as Evangelical Christians may influence elected officials to vote on bills that may not benefit the majority of the population such as confusing debates over abortion, global warming and the recent American health bill.

In China, the only way to influence a government official is by bribing him or her. If caught, that official may end up going to prison or face execution, which seldom happens in the US where bribed officials often go unpunished.

Although many call China a dictatorship, it is not. See Dictatorship Defined

Today, China is a one party republic, which is what the United States was under its first two presidents, George Washington and John Adams. In China, only Communist Party members may vote as part of a consensus and there are more than 70 million Party members.

In the American Republic created by the Founding Fathers in 1776, only white men that owned property were allowed to vote, which was about 10% of the population.

Critics of China claim that China’s 1982 Constitution allows for freedom of speech and religion. However, the truth is that there are limits on freedom of speech and religion that we never hear about from the Western media or politicians.

The US Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The Chinese Constitution says, “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration…”

Nowhere does it say in the Chinese Constitution, “the Party will make no law prohibiting the “free exercise of freedom of speech or of the press” as it does in the US Constitution.

In fact, the same article that says “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief” also says, “No one may make use of religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the educational system of the state.”

The Chinese Constitution also says, “The exercise by citizens of the People’s Republic of China of their freedoms and rights may not infringe upon the interests of the state…” and “they must not commit acts detrimental to the security, honour and interests of the motherland.”

That is why the Tibetan Dalai Lama lives in exile in India, the Falun Gong religious cult was banned in China in 1999 and Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner, is in jail. They all refuse to abide by the 1982 Chinese Constitution.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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Three Hundred Years – Part 4 of 5

April 6, 2010

I’m sure that Liu Xiaobo spoke he did not remember the Boxer Rebellion when many Chinese became angry due to the foreign influence and Christian missionaries converting an increasing number of Chinese to an alien religion that did not fit the culture.

Hundreds of thousands of Chinese took part in the Boxer Rebellion at the end of the 19th century. Their goal was to drive the foreign influence from China even if they had to kill them all. Tens of thousands died while only a few hundred foreign Christians were killed. Western troops, once again, poured into China to suppress this uprising by Chinese peasants who wanted to reclaim their culture and rid the country of foreign influences.

Liu Xiaobo's Grieving Wife

This leads me back to Liu Xiaobo’s wife, who (after her husband was sentenced to eleven years in prison) said, “The constitution says citizens have the right to free speech. But in 20 years in China, Xiaobo has never enjoyed that freedom. The words he wrote were only published outside.”

Wait a minute!  If Liu Xiaobo does not live in the United States, does the Constitution of the United States have an influence on legal decisions in China?

Since Liu may have violated the rule of law in China, the Chinese courts interpret what their constitution means—not the United States or any Western nation/citizen.

To understand the Chinese Constitution, one should read it carefully. If one article mentions a freedom, another article may partially restrict it. The American Constitution is no different. There are restrictions on freedom of speech even in America—they just aren’t the same as those in China.

See Foreign Devils and Barbarians http://wp.me/pN4pY-6h

 


Flexible China – Inflexible America

April 1, 2010

Imagine a piece in the Op-Ed section of the NY Times, a media bastion for liberal democracy, saying China is more open to change than the United States.

“China may be more open to fundamental political reform than the United States. Since the rule of law in America is based upon the notion that the state itself is constrained by a body of pre-existing law that is sovereign, any thought of rewriting the Constitution is anathema.” Source: The Fault Lines of Democracy

Changes in the United States often end up mired in partisanship between the two major political parties. Consider that the Equal Rights Amendment (proposed in 1921) in America still is not part of the Constitution. The movement to gain freedom for women started in 1841 while changes in China to improve women’s lives started in 1949, when Mao said, “Women hold up half the sky.”

Consider that the juvenile justice system in China is considering changes after a delegation from China came to America to examine what the United States juvenile justice system was like.

Discover more about China Law and Justice System

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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Different Cultures Different Laws

March 19, 2010

Language is a powerful tool. When abused by the media or “any” political agenda, the audience is misled and forms incorrect opinions. The Western media often judges actions in China based on Western law from a Judeo-Christian foundation.

Chinese law uses the Chinese Constitution as its basis—not the American Constitution.

China’s Legal System weighs the Law from different values

When the legal system in China arrests and finds political activists guilty, consider Article 28 from China’s Constitution. “The State maintains public order and suppresses treasonable and other counter-revolutionary activities; it penalizes acts that endanger public security and disrupt the socialist economy and other criminal activities, and punishes and reforms criminals”.

If you are not a Chinese citizen and you do not agree, don’t go to China. Understand that Chinese criminal law uses a mixture of Legalism, Confucius, Marxist, and a Leninist, Maoist philosophy as its guide in addition to being modeled on German Law.

Since 1979, China has educated its people about the law in the universities and other education institutions like the primary, middle and high schools. China has also publicized information about their legal system through the China Law Journal and many provincial and municipal journals, magazines, and newspapers. Public lectures are often organized in factories, mines, and rural communes in order to increase the people’s understanding of China’s Constitution and laws. Chinese citizens probably understand their country’s law better than most Americans do.

Discover Justice–a Matter of Opinion

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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