What would a Republic in China Look Like? Part 3 of 3

August 11, 2016

To determine what a republic in China would look like, we must also ask how many Chinese would have been allowed to vote in Sun Yat-sen’s republic.

To find out we need to take a closer look at who was eligible to vote in the United States during Sun’s life to discover that most minorities [China has 56] and women in the United States were not allowed to vote. In addition, some American states at the time had literacy laws in place and eligible adult men [mostly minorities] had to pass a literacy test to be able to vote. The first literacy test for voting was adopted by Connecticut in 1855. In fact, ten of the eleven southern states had subjective literacy tests that were used to restrict voter registration, but some of those states used grandfather clauses to exempt white voters from taking literacy tests.

Knowing this, it is highly likely that Sun Yat-sen would have created a republic in China that only allowed educated and wealthy Han Chinese men to vote. Women and children would have remained chattel, the property of men to be bought and sold for any reason as they had for thousands of years, and China’s minorities would have had no rights.

Therefore, once we subtract children, women, minorities, Han Chinese adult males who did not own property and any of those who were illiterate from the eligible voting population, what’s left is less than five percent of the adult population—and the educated Han elite adult males who owned property would have ruled the country. Most of the people in China would have had no voice; no vote.

What about today’s China?

Six-hundred million rural Chinese are allowed to vote in local elections. Only Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members vote in national elections but at last count, there were more than 80 million CCP members; China’s leader—with limited powers—may only serve two five-year terms.

And China has its own form of an electoral college. The President of China is elected by the National People’s Congress [NPC] with 2,987 members [dramatically more than the Electoral College in the United States with its 538 electors]. The NPC also has the power to remove the President and other state officers from office. Elections and removals are decided by a simple majority vote.

There is another significant difference between China’s NPC and America’s Electoral College—members of China’s NPC are elected but members of America’s Electoral College are appointed. This process varies from state to state. Usually, political parties nominate electors at their state conventions. Sometimes that process occurs by a vote of the U.S. party’s central committee. The electors are usually state-elected officials, party leaders, or people with a strong affiliation with the presidential candidates. This means that the American people have no say when those hand-picked 538 electors decide who the next U.S. President will be.

Then there is this fact: China’s culture is influenced by Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism — not Christianity, Islam or Judaism — and all three of these Asian religions/philosophies emphasizes harmony with little or no focus on individual rights as practiced in Europe and North America. Knowing that, it is highly likely that Sun Yat-sen would have supported some form of censorship over individuals in China when too much freedom of expression threatened the nation’s harmony.

But the pressure on China to become a democracy is for China to copy the United States with no consideration for its history and unique cultural differences. I wonder why.

Return to Part 2 or start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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What would a Republic in China Look Like? Part 2 of 3

August 10, 2016

Sun Yat-sen [1866 – 1925] was considered the father of China’s republic both on the mainland and Taiwan, and he was introduced to the United States in 1882 when he attended a Christian school in Hawaii. That experience exposed him to American politics, and later he wrote that he wanted to model China’s government after America but by combining Western thought with Chinese tradition.

To learn about the United States that Sun Yat-sen discovered, we must step back in time and examine America’s political structure then.

William P. Meyers.org says, “After the British were defeated a centralized, national government was seen by George Washington and company not as a method of extending freedom and the right to vote, but as a way of keeping control in the hands of rich. They wrote several anti-democratic provisions into the U.S. Constitution. Slavery was institutionalized. The Senate was not to be elected directly by the people; rather Senators were to be appointed by state legislatures. The President was not to be directly elected by the voters, but elected through an electoral college. The Supreme Court was to be appointed. Only the House of Representatives was elected directly.”

But by 1920, five years before Sun died, the right to vote was extended to women in the United States in both state and federal elections, but where was Sun Yat-sen when this happened? He was in China leading a rebellion and struggling to build a multi-party republic that included the Communist and Nationalist parties, and his ideas of what a republic would look like in China had formed decades before women got the vote in the U.S.

The political climate that existed in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries will show us what Sun learned about politics in America. For instance, there was the Chinese Exclusion Act passed by Congress in the spring of 1882 that was still in force. It wouldn’t be until 1942, years after Sun’s death, that the act would be repealed.

In addition, in 1922, the US Supreme Court ruled that people of Japanese heritage could not become naturalized citizens. The following year the Supreme Court ruled that Asian Indians also could not become citizens, and the law that barred Native American’s from voting wasn’t removed until 1947.

How about the way children were treated in the United States?

Well, children could be sold into slavery by their parents and end up working in factories, coal mines and even whore houses as young as seven. It wouldn’t be until 1938 that a federal law stopped this form of child slavery in the United States. America’s Civil War [1861 – 1865] may have ended black slavery but it didn’t free women and children of any race, and the Equal Rights Amendment has still not passed.

Continued with Part 3 on August 11, 2016 or start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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What would a Republic in China Look Like? Part 1 of 3

August 9, 2016

The mainland Chinese have many choices to choose from when it comes to a democracy. They could copy the first democracy in Athens, but the Athenian democracy had slavery and women couldn’t vote. In the 4th and 5th century BC, all male citizens (about 40,000 to 60,000) in Athens had equal political rights, freedom of speech, and the opportunity to participle directly in the political arena, but women, slaves (as many as 80,000) and foreign residents were excluded.  – Athenian Democracy: a brief overview

What about the United States at its birth as a republic? Well, only white men who owned property and were not Jews were allowed to vote. That was about 10 percent of the population, and in 1790 there were 697,897 slaves in America. – Slave Population of United States: 1790 – 1860

Around that time, the U.S. resident population in 1790 was about 3.9 million. If we subtract the slaves, that leaves 3.2 million meaning that about 300,000 men were allowed to vote.

There are 192 countries in the world and only 123 (or 64 percent) are considered democracies, but China is often criticized the most for not being what is considered a democracy. Why aren’t the other 68 countries that are not democracies criticized: for instance, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Bahrain, Oman, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Equatorial Guinea, Chad, Uganda, Rwanda, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, Singapore, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan – maybe it is because these authoritarian regimes are all supported by the United States but mainland China isn’t?

However, China might already be a democratic republic, because few if any outside of China considers that the political structure of today’s China might be closer to Sun Yat-sen’s vision than the democracy we find in the United States. After all, Sun Yat-sen is considered the father of China’s republic by both Taiwan and Beijing. In fact, mainland China, ruled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), may offer the Chinese people more of a voice than the republic Sun Yat-sen was building before his death.

Continued with Part 2 on August 10, 2016

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

For August 2016 Promotion

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The “Turkish Solution” Applies to China

March 17, 2011

I read an interesting post at Pajamas Media written by Stephen Green.

In Egypt Should Employ the ‘Turkish Solution’, Green explains what confuses many in the West and especially Americans.

The gulf between American beliefs and the reality of the developing world is often wide and foggy.

In fact, the average American cannot understand why the rest of the world isn’t up in arms demanding democracy such as the one that exists in the US today.

It is as if the average American is ignorant of their history, which is probably true.

In 1776, the United States was not what it is today. Many act as if all it takes is to flip a switch and the citizens of any country may form a democracy similar to those in Europe and North America without consideration that it took more than two centuries for the US to evolve from a republic into the democracy it is today.

That’s why Stephen Green’s “Turkish Solution” is worth reading.

The United States started with leaders such as George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.  No other country applied pressure on the US to become a republic. It was an internal decision.

Like Atatürk, the father of Turkey’s Republic, Deng Xiaoping was the father of China’s current one party republic. Under his guidance, China wrote a new Constitution in 1982 setting term and age limits for officials serving in the Communist Party, which has more than 70 million members.

Today in China, decisions are made by consensus and not by one man as they were under Mao’s leadership for twenty-six years and China is building a legal system that did not exist 30 years ago.

In the early 1980s, China also embarked on a goal of improving education and raising literacy to well above 90%. That goal has not been reached yet but China is close to achieving it.

Deng Xiaoping was correct in 1989 when he said China wasn’t ready to become a democracy.

In 1976 when Mao died, 80% of China’s population could not read yet literacy is vital to the success of a democracy.

Ignorant citizens do not make good decisions when they vote.

The next challenge China faces is to find leaders with the vision of a Washington, Atatürk or Deng Xiaoping.

Democracy is not born from outside pressure. It must come from inside China as it did for America and Turkey and it is best if democracy arrives peacefully and not on oceans of blood.

China has already had its century of madness where it was bathed in blood. Enough is enough.

Discover Dictatorship Defined

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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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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.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


The Emperor is Dead

November 5, 2010

In a Republic, everyone “does not” have the right to vote and that’s the way it was in the United States until 1965 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act and created a democracy.

In 1776, when the US was a Republic, only white men with property had the right to vote, and the electorate consisted of perhaps only 10 to 20 percent of the population.

In fact, “”This made the country (America) far more stable than places that did not have this tradition and later went through dozens of constitutions and revolutions. In short, when it came to government and voting, Americans had a model to build on.” Source: History – Voting in Early America

Since America took almost two centuries to become the chaotic democracy it is today where almost everyone may vote but many don’t, why should China be rushed.

In China, members of the Communist Party make up the electorate, which is about 5% of the population. If the Communist Youth League were added, it would be closer to 10 percent. Regardless of how this electorate makes decisions, they do have a voice.

However, the consensus (rather than a majority vote) of that electorate still decides the direction China is moving.

China’s Central Committee has about 300 members (connected by a hot line) and nominally appoints the current 25 Politburo members, who select the Standing Committee of 5 to 9 men who select the President and Prime Minister.

Before 1911, only one man had a vote and that was the emperor. China has no emperor today. Today, China’s leaders may only serve two, five-year terms and there are also age limits, which the US doesn’t have. In fact, China’s next leader will not be the son of an emperor.

At its birth, the United States was not a democratic nation—far from it. The very word “democracy” had pejorative overtones, summoning up images of disorder, government by the unfit, even mob rule — considering the run up to the 2010 election, which sounds about right.

The explanation for the pressure from the “so-called” free world that China throw away the more stable Republic that has led to a steady, controlled modernization, improved health care and lifestyles and stumble quickly into a chaotic democracy is that misery loves company.

In 1950, the average life expectancy in China was 32.  Today life expectancy at birth is 73 (78 in the US). The infant mortality rate in 1950 was about 200 for 1,000 live births. Today that number is 20 (6 in the US).

If you want to see what happens to a country that became a Democracy before it was ready, study India carefully.

In India, the infant mortality rate is 51 for 1,000 live births. Life expectancy at birth is 66.

So far, since 1982 (which marks the end of Mao’s era and the birth of China’s new Constitution), China has avoided many of India’s mistakes, and India has been a democracy since 1947.

The learn more about India, see Comparing India and China’s Economic Engines, India Falling Short and The India, China battle to eliminate poverty and illiteracy.

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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. 

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


Growing Cautiously Into a Modern Republic – Part 7/7

October 25, 2010

Another reason China is moving toward a more open republic is China’s growing, highly educated middle class. Even most of China’s peasants have seen lifestyle improvements — not as fast as urban areas but there has been growth.

“Growth in (China’s) peasant income, which had reached a rate of 15.2% a year from 1978 to 1984, dropped to 2.8% a year from 1986 to 1991. Some recovery occurred in the early 1990s, but stagnation of rural incomes marked the latter part of the decade.” Source: Asia Times

Between 1978 to 1984, rural income improved almost 100% within six years.  That growth slowed to 14% between 1986 to 1991. 

Yet, Western critics that blast China for this slow growth seldom mention that rural India has stood still for the last twenty years. There must be an unwritten rule about criticizing other democracies, which is censorship.

China’s Western critics act as if they expect an infant to walk the day he or she is born, and run a marathon, become a rocket scientist and a Nobel laureate all within twenty-four hours.

The China Law Blog said I wasn’t being fair to India when I wrote Comparing India and China’s Economic Engines.

In fact, the West’s Sinophobic critics are the ones guilty of being unfair.

China will open the door to more freedom when China is ready and that door is open wider now than it was in 1976.

I never said “when” China would be finished building a more open, modern republic, and it may never happen until a majority of the people demand it and there may even be bloodshed.

However, the signs are there for anyone who takes the time to look.

When China arrives at that destination is in the hands of the planners, engineers, scientists and architects who lead and rule China—not the Western politicians, the media or Sinophobic critics.

In fact, in 2012, the seventy million members of the Party will have an election and the leadership of China will change again.

However, the West will still refer to the elected president of China’s republic as a dictator without mentioning that in a republic not everyone has the right to vote as it was in America in 1776.

Return to Growing Cautiously Into a Modern Republic – Part 6

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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. 

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.