Chinese Contemplations on Utopian and Dystopian Democratic Governance

in Democratic Theory
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Nele Noesselt Professor, Duisburg-Essen University, Germany nele.noesselt@uni-due.de

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Abstract

This article addresses the Chinese debates on utopian and dystopian modes of democracy. It opens the black box of the one-party state and delves below the surface of the People's Republic of China's official statements on “democracy” (e.g., “people's democracy,” “democratic centralism”) by focusing on the often-overlooked “democracy” contemplations within the highly fragmented Chinese academic communities. These reflections indirectly respond to the debates and governance practices in other world regions—with the US being referred to as the main “mirror” image. The article mainly focuses on the first two office terms of Xi Jinping. Developments since this re-appointment as head of the Chinese party-state in 2022 (and 2023), however, indicate that the “democracy” frame continues to serve as core element of the Chinese role-identity narratives.

Multiple “Democracies”

Assessing “the” Chinese debate on democracy is a highly challenging endeavor. The People's Republic of China (PRC) falls into the category of socialist one-party states. The territory formally belonging to its jurisdiction, however, also includes two “liberal” enclaves—the Special Administrative Regions Hong Kong and Macao—as well as Taiwan. The latter is de jure ascribed the status of a Chinese province, while it is, de facto, ruled as an autonomous entity out of the direct reach of the Chinese Communists in Beijing. In the second half of the 1980s, Taiwan started the legalization of opposition parties and transformed itself into a multi-party democracy. The Democratic Progressive Party's President Tsai Ing-wen, re-elected in 2020, has continuously expressed concerns that Beijing might be tempted to resort to non-peaceful means to secure Communist control over Taiwan. To substantiate this threat narrative, Tsai quotes the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong (and the pro-democratic groups’ demand for universal suffrage) and the authorities’ tough handling of these protests, which, according to her interpretation, would signal the end of Beijing's self-commitment to the formula of “One Country, Two Systems” and the preservation of Hong Kong's status quo ante (see Lee 2019). While movements in favor or in defense of democratic and electoral freedoms in Hong Kong and Taiwan did apparently gain momentum, their reference model are international (“western”) democratic theories and procedures.

When, as slightly asynchronous response, the Biden-Harris administration strengthened US alliances with Asian democracies, the assumption of an aggravating system antagonism with the PRC framed as posing a major threat to liberal democratic norms has widely reemerged as the predominant scenario of world (geo)politics. The PRC responds to these narratives by a counter-framing of the concept of “democracy.” Since the proclamation of the PRC in 1949, the self-identity narratives of the Chinese party-state have operated with slogans that entail the notion of democracy—for example, “democratic centralism,” “people's democratic dictatorship,” “people's (socialist) democracy.” These frames are deeply embedded in Marxist and Maoist thought. The PRC's reference to the concept of “democracy” should hence not exclusively be subsumed under window dressing but seen as part of its orthodox political culture. However, with people traveling (and studying) outside the PRC, liberal democratic values and democratic theories have become widely known and discussed among China's intellectual elites.

To shed light on this multiplicity of democracy conceptions in the PRC, this article starts with a short overview of the Chinese government's self-identity claims as presenting an alternative to the “degenerated” concept of democracy practiced in the United States, before turning to select streams of the often-overlooked “democracy” contemplations within the highly fragmented Chinese academic communities (e.g., the Chinese New Left, the Neo-Maoists, the Chinese New Globalists, and Chinese Neoliberals).

Self-Images of the Chinese Political System

One-party regimes tend to label themselves not as autocracies but, in most cases, as “people's democracies,” hence not subscribing to the international (“western”) categorization of political regimes on the autocracy-democracy matrix. In the twenty-first century, meritocracy has emerged as an additional label used by the Chinese authorities to distinguish and distance itself from (“degenerated”) western liberal democracies. The term was brought up and added to the Chinese debate by the Canadian political scientist Daniel A. Bell (2015), dean of the School of Political Science and Public Administration at Shandong University and professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing. While Bell's adaptation of the concept to the Chinese case argues that meritocratic elements as practiced in China might provide a way to overcome the shortcomings of electoral democracy, the sociological-political reflection on meritocracy as presented by Michael D. Young in 1958—which Daniel Bell discussed in an article back in 1972 (Bell 1972)—sketches a rather dystopian fictional nightmare of meritocratic societies (Young 1958). In June 2001, in an interview with The Guardian, Young stated that this dystopian imagination of the future had already become reality in the United Kingdom—and voiced his deep unhappiness regarding the positive reference to “meritocracy” by British Prime Minister Tony Blair (Young 2001).

The official narrative of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)—along with the academic debates in China, including the studies by Daniel Bell that present the contemporary Chinese governance system as a continuation of inherited historical-philosophical patterns (Bell and Pei 2020)—ignores Young's satirical-critical views on meritocracy and frames “merit” as one of the key selection criteria for the promotion of cadres and state officials, as highlighted in the summary of the Fourth Plenum of the Nineteenth Central Committee (Xinhua 2019b). In the official political narrative of the Chinese party-state, the origins of Chinese meritocracy are traced back to Confucius and the Chinese Confucian examination system on which the selection of political personnel was based over centuries. Reflections on weighed voting systems in western contemplations on (representational) democracy—such as John Stuart Mill's idea to reduce the candidates for democratic elections to a highly elitist educated circle—are not taken into consideration. The cadre evaluation system, as practiced by the CCP and refurbished under Xi Jinping, however, has successfully (silently) substituted Confucian principles by Marxist ideology (and Xi Jinping Thought), enforcing absolute obedience and loyalty to the party (Chen 2018; Gao 2015). Guo Baogang thus convincingly argues that the Chinese system would best be described as “partocracy” (Guo 2020)—a one-party state, recently (i.e., under Xi Jinping) engaging in top-down-controlled policy and (procedural) democracy experimentation and initiatives to strengthen the meritocracy-based cadre recruitment and promotion system.

Chinese Narratives of Democratic Dystopias and Utopian Dreams of the “West”

Official political statements and speeches by China's party elites (and certain streams of the Chinese academic debates) on democracy operate with counter-framing, coining a narrative of western democracies as failed states—or “dystopian” version of democracy—and stressing the successful performance of the Chinese one-party state. This narrative is also used to present the Chinese government's fierce opposition to external pressure to democratize the Chinese one-party state as the only rational response—added by the active labeling of the Chinese political regime as a socialist people's democracy superior to failed liberal representative (“western”) democracy.

The most recent Chinese official narrative on western democracy—as almost omnipresent in official party speeches and state media opinion pieces (inter alia Zhang 2019)—argues that liberal, representative democracies would not only be inefficient and, especially in times of major crisis, non-performing but also display a widening distance between the elected party representatives and the people. Furthermore, political competition within the parties when setting up the list of eligible candidates and the following public campaigns to secure voters would mainly serve the maximizing of votes and not the promotion of the best candidate (Chai 2019). In the Mao years, these views were embedded in Marxist-Leninist criticism of western bourgeois-aristocratic ideas (Hu 1957); in the twenty-first century, these statements are presented as based on the “empirical” evaluation of western democracy.

When, in January 2021, supporters of the former US President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol, with riots turning violent, Chinese official state media responded by framing this as empirical evidence for the ultimate endgame and failure of US democracy (Global Times 2021). Again, on March 18, 2021, a first meeting between the just inaugurated Biden administration—represented by the US Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken, and the US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan—and the PRC's top foreign affairs representatives, the senior Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi and Wang Yi, state councilor, took place in Alaska. The Chinese side self-confidently rejected the US criticism on Beijing's approach to the protests in Hong Kong and the human rights situation in Xinjiang, pointing at what they framed as poor human rights conduct of the United States and accusing the United States, quoting the Black Lives Matter campaign, of domestic racism. Given these dark sides of US democracy, Washington, as Yang Jiechi stressed, would not have any mandate or right to promote its model of “democracy” all over the world and to actively seek to oppose political systems that they had ranked as autocracies1 and enemies of US-style democracy (US Department of State 2021).

Furthermore, the previously cited Global Times article postulated that riots in Washington would fall in the same category as the street protests in Hong Kong (Global Times 2021) and should both be classified as “anti-democratic and anti-rule of law” movements, hence indirectly rejecting the international condemnation of the handling of the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong as an act of autocratic intervention, and presenting social movements in both cases as dangerous acts against the constitution-based “democratic” regime patterns that should not be tolerated. Earlier already, countering the debates and threat scenarios, deriving from the classification of the PRC as an example of suppressive one-party rule and (assumed) promoter of a worldwide wave of re-autocratization and democratic decline (Bryant and Chou 2016; Diamond 2021), the English channels of the PRC's news agencies had constantly stressed that the United States (and its democratic allies worldwide—a (Chinese) categorization that does not reflect the varieties of liberal democracy) would misinterpret the PRC's regime type patterns and erroneously classify the system as “non-democratic” (Global Times 2019). In fact, the term “democracy” is almost omnipresent in statements by Chinese political leaders. Beyond the Marxist-Leninist (and Maoist) concepts of democratic centralism and democratic dictatorship, the post-Maoist PRC operates with elements of deliberative democracy, often framed in the Chinese debate as “consultative democracy” (xieshang minzhu )—which, in the context of recent Chinese academic debates on democratic theory, is not an end in itself but a necessary element on the way toward fully fledged “people's democracy” (renmin minzhu ) (Liu 2020). According to the PRC's official role-identity conception presented on the Chinese delegation's UN page—which can be taken as an authoritative official role-identity statement—the Chinese idea of people's democracy relies on peasants, soldiers, and the working class.2 The Chinese side apparently refrains from using the binary typology of democratic versus autocratic political regimes and operates with multiple positive and negative connotated sub-varieties of “democracy.”

Simultaneously, the Chinese party-state's critical views also target the main historical-philosophical reference model of “western” democracy, the Athenian polis, which continues to be classified as a slaveholder society, with voting rights limited to a minority of free citizens (Tang 2019). This point, however, is not only to be found in studies by Marxist scholars or official statements by the PRC's ruling elite but also reflected in studies by liberal Chinese historians and political scientists who quote the international literature on the origins (and limitations) of Athenian democracy that document the shortcomings and limited participatory rights in the Greek polis as assessed in retrospect (Yan 2003, 2004).

While “western-style” liberal democracy is classified as not only incompatible with Chinese system patterns and governance philosophy but also highly dysfunctional, select best practices at the procedural level have been reflected, adjusted, and added to the toolkit of modern Chinese political steering approaches (Xue and Zhong 2012; Zhang and Marsh 2016). As the political essays by Yu Keping—who had once served as deputy president of the CCP's Central Translation and Compilation Department (and policy adviser to the fourth generation of the CCP's political leaders) before becoming appointed as head of the School of Government at Peking University—on democracy show, the incremental, top-down coordinated and managed democratic transformation of the one-party regime is deemed a “good thing,” that is, nothing to be categorically rejected. A big-bang regime redesign, by contrast, is widely regarded as dangerous and as bearing the risk of leading to the installment of totalitarian despotism and of causing the loss of already achieved participatory elements (Yu 2008). In his 2019 retrospective assessment of “Chinese” democracy, Yu Keping further stressed that the Republic of China did not initially install any liberal democratic institutions but established a new type of Republican autocracy (Yu 2019).3

Despite the official anti-US statements by the PRC's political leaders, which also dominate the orthodox streams of academic debates, however, the electoral victory of Donald Trump in November 2016 received a highly positive response by large shares of Chinese intellectuals across the borders running between the various academic schools and political camps, leading to the formation of an unexpected alliance between parts of the conservative left-wing camp and of the liberal pro-democracy camp (Ash 2020). The reasons for the Trump euphoria among Chinese intellectuals are manifold—to be discussed in the following sections on the multiple views on democracy across the various groups and schools of Chinese scholars.

Legal-Rational Modes of Good Governance

Most debates on politics and political theory in the PRC continue to take place behind closed doors (or via secured online chatrooms). The intersection of politics and law, however, is one arena where the administrative reform attempts initiated under China's fifth generation unintentionally triggered controversial academic debates on good governance. Given the persisting factional struggles within the CCP and the ongoing controversial debates among the various schools of thought in Chinese social science,4 there is no unanimous consensus regarding the “best” way to rule the country.

At the official level, under Xi Jinping's rule, efforts to increase the efficiency, responsivity and accountability of the state administration have formally been intensified. The Fourth Plenum in 2019 concluded with a formal decision on “upholding and improving the system of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and advancing the modernization of China's governance system and capacity for governance” (Xinhua 2019b). The strengthening of rule-based governance is seen as a relevant prerequisite to the successful implementation of this top-down coordinated modernization strategy. The principle of rule of law, or, more precisely, rule-based governance is reflected disjunct from the basic principle of liberal democracy (see, inter alia, the writings by Pan Wei 1999). In this vein, elements of supervision, evaluation, and control are framed as necessary tools to ensure compliance with central-level policies and regulations. Corruption and power abuse are regarded as potentially threatening to regime survival, as they weaken people's trust in and support of the one-party state. The campaigns initiated by Xi Jinping include several ones against corruption and economic crimes as well as a mass-line campaign5 to react to the perceived growing distance between party cadres and local society (Yuen 2014). While some international observers and analysts have voiced their doubts and postulated that these campaigns would mainly serve the silencing and demotion of Xi's domestic political opposition (Minzner 2015), seen from a more philosophical perspective, the campaign bears some direct links to the abstract Chinese contemplations on legal-rational governance that defines law-based rule as main prerequisite for political legitimacy and hence, indirectly, reduces legitimacy to legality (as also reflected in the Chinese official term widely used as equivalent to the English notion of “legitimacy”: [literally meaning “in accordance with the law”]). These legal-rationalist governance concepts are inspired by the writings of the premodern Chinese Legalists who argue that societal order could not be upheld without a set of draconic sanctions and punishment. Shang Yang and his Legalist reform ideas are referenced in Chinese dynastical records as having paved the way for the ascent of the state of Qin and the first unification of China under Qin Shihuang in 221 BC (Huang 2008). When Xi Jinping quoted a famous saying of the Legalist philosopher Han Fei to underline the meaning of law for the stability and survival of a political regime, his governance approach was, mistakenly, widely reduced to Legalist ideas. In fact, a closer look at Xi's speeches and statements (Xi 2020) leads to slightly more nuanced findings, as Xi simultaneously draws inspiration from the Chinese classics and ancient literature in general, also including Confucian ideas. Academic reflections inspired by Confucianism highlight the moral self-cultivation of the individual and people's moral obligations and ritual actions within a quite hierarchical societal order.6

While most contemporary (Neo-)Confucian scholars in China reflect on abstract philosophical ideas and keep out of party politics, Jiang Qing's essays on political Confucianism ascribe Confucian scholars a central role in a prospective future tripartite Chinese governance architecture—composed of the House of exemplary Confucian scholars, the House of the People, and the House of the Nation—(Jiang 2014). None of these ideas is in line with the ongoing efforts of the party-state to modernize the political system (with the intent to stabilize the political regime patterns of China's one-party state). Nonetheless, the general idea of a controlled separation of power—discussed in the final years of the Qing dynasty when planning the centrally coordinated transition toward constitutional monarchy, a debate reactivated, once again, in the post-Maoist reform period during the early 1980s—has continuously been reflected by Chinese scholars as well as by political practitioners. Instead of just copying and importing ideas and institutions from abroad, the main idea is to borrow select best practices and to combine them with Chinese political traditions. In 1906, Sun Yat-sen—the founder of the Chinese Nationalist Party, whose political ideas, however, have served as source of inspiration for the Chinese Nationalists as well as the CCP—proposed to merge the western idea of a threefold separation of powers with elements of premodern Chinese state institutions. He suggested to add two premodern Chinese state organs, the examination yuan and the control yuan, to the West's three branches of executive, legislative, and judicative power(s). This five-yuan structure was formally adopted as guiding organizational pattern by the Chinese Republic (which, however, did initially not set up a multi-party democracy but installed an authoritarian one-party state). When the Republic of China/Taiwan abolished martial law and started to democratize (during the second half of the 1980s), Sun's five-yuan structure was formally reconfirmed. Sun's political essays, including his five-yuan proposal, sought to facilitate an incremental transition toward democracy. The idea that this transition would consist of three stages—military rule to restore unity and control, political tutelage to train and prepare people for the democratic stage, and, finally, grass-roots democracy7—might, though not formally proclaimed, also have inspired the Chinese Communists with regard to the introduction of elements of local democracy at the village and the shequ level.

Chinese liberal intellectuals, especially those working at the intersection of political science and law (including, inter alia, Zhang Qianfan [Peking University] and Wang Jianxun [China University of Politics and Law]), highlight the concept of “constitutional governance.” In 2011, Cai Xia (2011), a former professor at the Central Party School in Beijing, outlined that the transition from revolution to state-building would also entail a transition toward (constitutional) democracy. The censoring of the new year editorial of Nanfang Zhoumo (Southern Weekend) in 2013, entitled “Chinese Dream, Dream of Constitutional Governance,” however, posed a rather abrupt end to the pro-constitutionalization movement (Yuen 2013).

The (neo)liberal camp in China remains divided concerning the future development trajectories of the PRC. While some seem to advocate liberal democratic values to be found in “western” democracies, others have been quite disappointed when observing the populist developments in the United States and parts of Europe. Initially, the liberal pro-reform camp was subscribing to Donald Trump's open criticism of the CCP's one-party authoritarianism. Wang Jianxu, siding with classical liberal ideas, defended and praised Trump's inaugural speech as an attempt to restore the “American Spirit” (Wang 2017). In September 2018, the Chinese liberal camp even launched a Chinese clone of Trump's twitter account named “@Trump_Chinese” (Feng 2019). Lin Yao's analysis of the “Trumpian metamorphosis” of Chinese liberal intellectual identifies two main catalyzing factors of this euphoric reception of Trumpian politics. The first factor are people's unforgotten traumatic experiences during the Mao years, making them construct the West, especially the United States, as a positive counter-image to the PRC. Multi-party democracy and economic liberalism are core elements of this utopian imagination of the West; negative (anti-democratic, illiberal, populist) transformations of US (or European) politics are not taken into consideration (Lin 2021). Liberal economic thought (of the Austrian and the Chicago Schools) reached China in the 1980s and 1990s, during which key writings of Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, and Milton Friedman were translated and discussed among Chinese academics looking for an alternative to the PRC's socialist planned economy (Teng 2021). Chinese encounters with “foreign” political thought have a long history: While the self-strengthening movement in the aftermath of the Opium Wars (mid-nineteenth century) sought to study the West's advanced weapon technologies, to preserve Chinese cultural and philosophical roots, and reform ideas developed by Chinese literati-officials in the final decades of the Qing dynasty. Reform-oriented politicians and intellectuals in the post-Maoist reform years (late 1970s to early 1980s) even tried to import and adapt political theories and governance principles to the Chinese context. Apart from Marxist thought, this also included the main ideas of Social Darwinism that had entered China already in the final years of the Qing empire (Pusey 1983). In the 1980s and 1990s, social science in China generally displayed a strong dedication to “western” policies and philosophical thought, with a focus on modern (liberal) economic theories (Liu 2000). The second factor that might explain the apparently contradictory support for anti-democratic, xenophobic elements of populist Trumpism by Chinese liberal scholars, is thus to be found in the legacy of Social Darwinism in combination with “scientific racism.” These mind-maps, according to Lin's psychoanalysis of Chinese intellectuals, would generate a certain affinity toward Islamophobic policies and legitimate political actions presented as necessary moves to “defend” and restore American values and its status as the world's most advanced civilization (Lin 2021).

Nonetheless, in sum, the inner-Chinese debate on US democracy remains highly heterogenous. Some liberal scholars in China even state that instead of copying the patterns of western liberal democracy, Chinese liberal thinkers should also seek inspiration from Chinese philosophy and history and, finally, develop their own version of liberal (democratic) thought (inter alia Gao 2012; Qin 2011). Rather than operating with a black-and-white antagonism between Chinese liberals and the Chinese New Left, one should, however, also not ignore the internal fragmentation of these two camps. Qin Hui, for example, whose monograph Moving Away from the Imperial System (2015) reflecting on the theoretical and operational dimensions of constitutional governance was finally banned, represents the group of liberal-leftist scholars. Even though engaging in academic criticism of New Left thought in China, Qin Hui does not vote for Manchester-style liberal capitalism but believes in social democracy that guarantees a social safety net—and is strongly dedicated to issues of social justice and measures to improve the often-precarious situation of the Chinese peasants.

Whereas China's liberal advocates of constitutional democracy opt for formalized checks and balances and rule of law, often backed by a highly idealized utopian imagination of US democracy, New Left scholars such as Jiang Shigong (Law Professor at Peking University) oppose these views by arguing that the PRC would best be governed by an unwritten—and thus irrefutable—constitution as embodied (and enacted) by the CCP (Jiang 2010).

New Left Thoughts on Chinese Democracy

New Left debates in China should, however, not be mistaken as isolated narratives re-iterating ossified principles of “Chinese” orthodox governance philosophy. In 2008, Wang Shaoguang—counted as belonging to China's New Left, professor emeritus at the Chinese University in Hong Kong—published a compilation of his lectures on the origins and transformations of (western) democratic theory and democratic procedures (Wang 2008). His 2014 monograph then turned to China and contrasted western democracy and theories of democracy with the Chinese approach, which he described as a moral-ethical mode of governance (Wang 2014a). In a follow-up essay, also published in 2014, Wang Shaoguang argues that, according to survey results, the majority of people in China would not link democracy to the principle of (free) elections of the national government by the people but would perceive of democracy as a system that provides certain goods for the people (including long-term socio-economic stability). He elaborates on the “Chinese” understanding of democracy as opposed to western liberal conceptions by differentiating between “representative democracy” of western systems and the PRC's “representational democracy.” Wang postulates that in western electoral democracies there is no guarantee that the elected political elites would act and decide as representatives of their voters. This brings him to the assessment that elections would just be an act of people's formal “granting power to the elites.” Referring to Hanna Pitkin's reflections on “the idea of representation,” Wang emphasizes that the concept of representational democracy by contrast would include various elements of representation beyond elections. He also draws on Dahl, eclectically borrowing his idea that a democratic government has to be “responsive” and would have to guarantee that everyone is “politically equal.” Wang's definition of representational democracy in China stresses that the ones represented would be the “people” as such and that the political elites would make decisions to fulfill the “objective needs” of the people instead of responding to specific, fashionable short-term demands of powerful socio-economic actors. The Maoist mass line—relaunched by Xi Jinping—is, according to Wang, one central mechanism of enabling civic participation in China's representational democracy, as cadres are expected to listen to the masses and respond to their demands, implying a permanent responsive feedback loop between the party-state bureaucracy and the people (Wang 2014b). Given the absence of electoral rights in the PRC, there is, however, no formal way for citizens to get rid of the ruling elites—however, as long as the feedback loops work and the bureaucracy remains responsive and acts responsibly, there would, according the Wang's theory of representational democracy, be no need for formal impeachment regulations.

The Chinese New Left, mirroring certain features of the global New Left movement, sees the PRC's embracement of capitalism as the main reason for increased corruption, rising socio-economic disparities, as well as the decline of social justice in China. Leftist scholars, inter alia Wang Shaoguang (2009), have thus opted for “full economic democracy” to curb the power of capitalist oligarchs and to secure equal participation rights of all entrepreneurs and workers. A related issue is the New Left's opposition to (economic) globalization, as this is regarded as a Trojan horse that would facilitate the (capitalist) colonialization by (western) multi-national companies.8 Cui Zhiyuan, in his 1994 essay “Institutional Innovation and a Second Liberation of Thought,” published in the Hong Kong-based journal Twenty-First Century, elaborated on the debates by international Marxist scholars on “economic democracy,” sketching the idea of economic institutions that would be compatible with the interests of the majority of the people (instead of following a neoliberal development path that creates a new strata of second class citizens and exploited workers). China should, according to Cui (1994), stick to its socialist ideas and uphold the existing economic democratic elements, as (once) practiced via direct voting in township and village enterprises, and also continue its own practice of grass-root democracy via village elections.

During the early 1990s, it was the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Francis Fukuyama's announcement of an “end of history” and his prediction of an inevitable regime transformation of the few remaining autocracies (including China; Fukuyama 1992) that infuriated the group of Chinese “leftist” scholars. Observing the turn to market capitalism and the socio-economic destabilization in Latin America, they underlined the need of a strong and powerful state, steering socio-economic development at all system levels and sub-layers (Shi et al. 2018). Another central topic of the New Left was (and is) the empowerment of the Chinese peasants. The Chongqing Model, widely praised by the Chinese New Left back in 2011 and 2012, included experimentations with hukou reform and the trading of peasants’ land-use rights—to overcome the hukou-based division of the Chinese society into a rural class deprived from urban citizen rights and the urban (upper) class with exclusive access to urban social services (including insurance, health care, higher education; see Lu 2012). Despite the ousting and formal sentencing of Bo Xilai, main advocate of the Chongqing Model, select elements of these (rural) reform ideas were finally included in the reform decisions of the CCP's Third Plenum in 2013 (Brødsgaard and Grünberg 2014)—the party elites are thus obviously trying to respond to core demands put forward by the various competing actor groups within China, merging them into one unified (though fragmented and partly contradictory) set of policies.

Conclusion and Outlook

As a modern autocracy, the PRC is undergoing a continuous readjustment and fine-tuning of its steering strategies to re-legitimate and stabilize the one-party regime. The PRC's (procedural) democracy experimentations and efforts to institutionalize Chinese politics reflect the historical experiences of other countries. While these reflections—for example, on the drivers of the final collapse of the Soviet Union and lessons to be learned from it—normally take place behind closed doors, Chinese central television (CCTV) documentaries indirectly visualize these debates’ core streams of reflection and thus allow the observer to get a glimpse into the black box of the Chinese party-state. In 2006, CCTV broadcast a documentary on the “Rise of Great Powers” (Daguo Jueqi ) that analyzes the rise of nine world empires since 1500. While science and technology innovation are regarded as the main determinant of a country's rise to great power status, the documentary also addresses these countries’ domestic socio-political transformation and the role of the political leaders in coordinating economic (industrial) modernization. With regard to the United States—the main mirror image and source of inspiration of the PRC's ascent to global power—the documentary stresses the role of the constitution for the success of the United States’ economic development, as a formalized division of labor and transparent procedures are interpreted as a prerequisite for a sustainable rise. The CCTV documentary's contemplations on democracy are hence less dedicated to abstract democracy theory but seek to identify the procedural governance principles that once fueled the (economic) rise (and fall) of other great powers (Cao 2010). Cao Qin's decryption of the CCTV documentary and the (visualized) lessons deduced from the US case resonate with the past initiatives by the Chinese party-state to upgrade its regime stability (and legitimacy): in 2021, in the run-up to the annually convened two meetings (of the National People's Congress and the, simultaneously held, Political Consultative Conference), Xinhua news agency published an English-language summary of Xi Jinping's core statements on “socialist democracy” (China Daily 2021). These abstract references to socialist democracy—with the CCP ruling “for” not “by” the people—have become complemented by bureaucratic dimensions of democracy. During an inspection tour to Shanghai, Xi Jinping reportedly labeled his vision of democracy as “whole-process democracy” (quan guocheng minzhu ), stressing the need to reform and strengthen the country's procedural democracy, mainly consisting in increasing the system's transparency, improving the provision of public services, and strengthening its responsiveness regarding people's needs and demands (Xinhua 2019a; Renmin Ribao 2019).

Notes

1

In the original statement, Yang uses the formulation “so-called ‘authoritarian’ states,” to stress China's opposition to the United States’ binary coding of political regimes into the two groups of (western) democracy and autocracy.

3

For an historical account of the PRC's state-building process and approaches to democracy, see: Li (2021).

4

For an overview of the various schools of Chinese social science, see: Ma (2015). For an illuminating overview of Chinese intellectual debates summarizing the core ideas of the various schools, see: Li (2015) as well as Dallmayr and Zhao (2012). For an account of traditional Chinese ideas and China's encounter with “western” democratic theory, see: Ogden (2002); on the multilateral travelling of (democratic) ideas between China and the “West”: Jenco (2015). For the future of democratic theory and governance in China (as reflected around the turn of the century), see the volume compiled by Zhao Suisheng (2000); for the more recent debates, Li (2014).

5

In May 2013, a document entitled “Opinion Regarding the All-Encompassing Party-Wide Implementation of the Party's Mass-Line Education and Practice Campaign” was released, see the official document (in Chinese): http://qzlx.people.com.cn/n/2013/0930/c365007-23090188.html. The mass-line campaign officially took off in June 2013, focusing on combatting “formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism, and extravagance,” starting at the provincial level and being expanded to the lower levels of the state administration.

6

On the core concepts of Chinese philosophical-historical legitimacy, see: Guo 2003.

7

On Sun Yat-sen's political ideas, see also: Wells 2001.

8

See also the writings by Wang Hui, one of China's internationally renowned New Left scholars. A compilation of his ideas is also available in English translation: Wang 2006.

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    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chai, Shangjin. 2019. 当今西方代议制民主的困境 (“The Problems of Contemporary Western Representative Democracy”). Hongqi (Red Flag) 4. http://www.qstheory.cn/dukan/hqwg/2019-02/26/c_1124164026.htm.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chen, Xuelian. 2018. “Remaking the Loyal Cadres: The Ideological Responsibility System in China's New Era.Journal of Chinese Governance 3 (3): 292306. https://doi.org/10.1080/23812346.2018.1493023

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • China Daily. 2021. “Quotable Quotes: Xi Jinping on Socialist Democracy.” March 2. https://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202103/02/WS603de050a31024ad0baac2eb.html.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cui, Zhiyuan. 1994. 制度創新與第二次思想解放 (“Institutional Innovation and a Second Liberation of Thought”). http://www.cuhk.edu.hk/ics/21c/media/articles/c024-199401068.pdf.

  • Dallmayr, Fred, and Tingyang Zhao, eds. 2012. Contemporary Chinese Political Thought: Debates and Perspectives. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Diamond, Larry. 2021. “Democratic Regression in Comparative Perspective: Scope, Methods, and Causes.Democratization 28 (1): 2242. https://doi.org/10.1080/13510347.2020.1807517

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Feng, Zhaoyin. 2019. “Why I Translate All of Trump's Tweets into Chinese.” BBC, August 9. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49092612.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fukuyama, Francis. 1992. The End of History and the Last Man. New York: Free Press.

  • Gao, Jie. 2015. “Pernicious Manipulation of Performance Measures in China's Cadre Evaluation System.” The China Quarterly 223: 618–637. https://doi:10.1017/S0305741015000806.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gao, Quanxu. 2012. 中国自由主义的政治成熟 (“The Maturity of Chinese Liberals”). https://www.aisixiang.com/data/56518.html.

  • Global Times. 2019. “West Fails to Understand China's Democracy.” December 24. https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1174652.shtml.

  • Global Times. 2021. “The US Is Its Own Enemy on Democracy.” January 8. https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202101/1212254.shtml.

  • Guo, Baogang. 2003. “Political Legitimacy and China's Transition.” Journal of Chinese Political Science 8: 1–25. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02876947.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Guo, Baogang. 2020. “A Partocracy with Chinese Characteristics: Governance System Reform under Xi Jinping.” Journal of Contemporary China 29 (126): 809823. DOI: 10.1080/10670564.2020.1744374

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hu, Zhongda. 1957. 雅典的民主政治及其阶级基础 (“Athenian Democracy and Its Class Foundations”). Lishi Jiaoxue (History Teaching) 6: 2129.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Huang, Wenjuan. 2008. 先秦法家法治思想的衍变 : 以《管子》、《商君书》和《韩非子》为中心 (“The Development of the “Rule of Law” Ideology of the Pre-Qin Legalist School: With the Focus on Guan Zi, The Book of Shang Yang and Han Feizi”). Guanzi Xuebao (Guanzi Journal) 3: 2327.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jenco, Leigh. 2015. Changing Referents: Learning Across Space and Time in China and the West. New York: Oxford University Press.

  • Jiang, Shigong. 2010. “Written and Unwritten Constitutions: A New Approach to the Study of Constitutional Government in China.” Modern China 36 (1), 12–14. https://doi.org/10.1177/0097700409349703.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jiang, Qing. 2014. 政治儒学 : 当代儒学的转向, 特质与发展 (Political Confucianism: Trends, Characteristics, Developments of Contemporary Confucianism). Fuzhou: Fujian Jiaoyu Chubanshe.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lee, Yimou. 2019. “Taiwan Leader Rejects China's ‘One Country, Two Systems’ Offer.Reuters. October 10. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-taiwan-anniversary-president-idUSKBN1WP0A4.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Li, He. 2014. “Chinese Intellectual Discourse on Democracy.Journal of Chinese Political Science 19 (3): 289314. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11366-014-9300-8

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Li, He. 2015. Political Thought and China's Transformation. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Li, Shangli. 2021. The Construction of Democracy: China's Theory, Strategy and Agenda. Singapore: World Scientific.

  • Lin, Yao. 2021. “Beaconism and the Trumpian Metamorphosis of Chinese Liberal Intellectuals.” Journal of Contemporary China 30 (127): 85101. DOI: 10.1080/10670564.2020.1766911.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Liu, Jiuyong. 2020. 中国协商政治的”民主性”辨析 (“Identification of Democracy in Chinese Consultative Politics:” An Attempt of Constructing a Consultative Democratic Theory”). CASS Journal of Political Science 5: 3951.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Liu, Junning. 2000. “Classical Liberalism Catches On in China.” Journal of Democracy 11: 4857. doi:10.1353/jod.2000.0059.

  • Lu, Kevin. 2012. “The Chongqing Model Worked.” Foreign Policy. August 8. https://foreignpolicy.com/2012/08/08/the-chongqing-model-worked/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ma, Licheng. 2015. Leading Schools of Thought in Contemporary China. Singapore: World Scientific.

  • Minzner, Carl. 2015. “China after the Reform Era.” Journal of Democracy 26 (3): 129143. https://10.1353/jod.2015.0048.

  • Ogden, Suzanne. 2002. Inklings of Democracy in China. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

  • Pan, Wei. 1999. 法治与未来中国政体 (“Rule of Law and the Future of China's Political System”). Zhanlüe yu Guanli (Strategy and Management) 5: 3036.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pusey, James Reeve. 1983. China and Charles Darwin. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

  • Qin, Hui. 2011. 秦晖: 中国现代自由主义的理论商榷 (“Qin Hui: Theoretical Discussion of Chinese Contemporary Liberalism”). https://www.aisixiang.com/data/42554.html.

  • Qin, Hui. 2015. 走出帝制 (Moving Away from the Imperial System). Beijing: Qunyan Chubanshe.

  • Renmin Ribao. 2019. 十、发展社会主义民主政治(习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想学习纲要 (“10. Developing Socialist Democracy [Outline of Xi Jinping's Thought on Chinese Socialism for the New Era]”). August 5. http://politics.people.com.cn/n1/2019/0805/c1001-31274872.html.

  • Shi, Anshu, François Lachapelle, and Matthew Galway. 2018. “The Recasting of Chinese Socialism: The Chinese New Left since 2000.China Information 32 (1): 139159. https://doi.org/10.1177/0920203X18760416

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tang, Jiapeng. 2019. 马克思主义视域下雅典民主问题三维剖析 (“Three-dimensional Discussion on the Democracy of Athens from the Perspective of Marxism”). Beijing Jiaoyu Xueyuan Xuebao (Journal of Beijing Institute of Education) 33 (1): 2935.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Teng, Biao. 2021. “An Anatomy of Trump's Appeal to Chinese Liberals: A Conversation with Teng Biao.” Made in China Journal, February 1. https://madeinchinajournal.com/2021/02/01/an-anatomy-of-trumps-appeal-to-chinese-liberals-a-conversation-with-teng-biao/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • US Department of State. 2021. “Secretary Antony J. Blinken, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Director Yang and State Councilor Wang at the top of their Meeting.” March 18. https://www.state.gov/secretary-antony-j-blinken-national-security-advisor-jake-sullivan-chinese-director-of-the-office-of-the-central-commission-for-foreign-affairs-yang-jiechi-and-chinese-state-councilor-wang-yi-at-th/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wang, Hui. 2006. China's New Order: Society, Politics, and Economy in Transition. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

  • Wang, Jianxu. 2017. “特朗普要做的是回归“美国精神” (“What Trump Does Is a Return to the ‘American Spirit’”). https://www.thepaper.cn/newsDetail_forward_1607425.

  • Wang, Shaoguang. 2008. 民主四讲 (Four Lectures on Democracy). Beijing: Shenghuo Dushu Sanlian Shudian.

  • Wang, Shaoguang. 2014a. 中国 : 政道 (China: Ways of Political Rule). Beijing: Renmin Daxue Chubanshe.

  • Wang, Shaoguang. 2014b. 代表型民主与代议型民主 (“Representational Democracy and Representative Democracy”). http://www.opentimes.cn/Abstract/1946.html.

  • Wells, Audrey. 2001. The Political Thought of Sun Yat-sen: Development and Impact. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

  • Xi, Jinping. 2020. 谈治国理政 (The Governance of China). Beijing: Waiwen Chubanshe.

  • Xinhua. 2019a. 习近平 : 中国的民主是一种全过程的民主 (“Xi Jinping: China's Democracy is a Whole-Process Democracy”). March 11. http://www.xinhuanet.com/politics/leaders/2019-11/03/c_1125186412.htm.

  • Xinhua. 2019b. 中共十九届四中全会《决定》(全文) (“Full Text of the Decisions of the Fourth Plenum of the Nineteenth Central Committee”). November 5. https://news.ifeng.com/c/7rMGsaMgu0G.

  • Xue, Lan and Kaibing Zhong. 2012. “Domestic Reform and Global Integration: Public Administration Reform in China over the Last 30 Years.International Review of Administrative Sciences 78 (2): 284304. https://doi.org/10.1177/0020852312438784

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yan, Shaoxiang. 2003. 从理想到暴政: 古典时代希腊人的雅典民主观 (“From Politeia to Ochlocracy: Athenian Democracy in Writings of the Classical Greek Age”). Huadong Shifan Daxue Xuebao (Journal of China Eastern University) 35 (6): 4956.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yan, Shaoxiang. 2004. 民主还是暴政: 希腊化时代与罗马时代思想史中的雅典民主问题 (“Democracy or Tyranny: The Athenian Democracy in the Hellenistic Age and the History of Roman Thoughts”). Shijie Lishi (World History) 1: 4957.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Young, Michael D. 1958. The Rise of Meritocracy. London: Thames & Hudson.

  • Young, Michael. 2001. “Down with Meritcracy.” The Guardian. June 28. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2001/jun/29/comment.

  • Yu, Keping. 2008. Democracy Is a Good Thing: Essays on Politics, Society, and Culture in Contemporary China. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yu, Keping. 2019. “Democracy in China: Challenge or Opportunity?https://ash.harvard.edu/files/ash/files/democracyinchina_0.pdf.

  • Yuen, Samson. 2013. “Debating Constitutionalism in China: Dreaming of a Liberal Turn?China Perspectives 4. http://journals.openedition.org/chinaperspectives/6325.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yuen, Samson. 2014. “Disciplining the Party Xi Jinping's Anti-Corruption Campaign and Its Limits.” China Perspectives 3: 41–47. https://doi.org/10.4000/chinaperspectives.6542.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zhang, Shuhua. 2019. “Chinese Democracy Has Its Own Merits.” Global Times. March 11. https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1141696.shtml.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zhang, Yanzhe and David Marsh. 2016. “Learning by Doing: The Case of Administrative Policy Transfer in China.Policy Studies 37 (1): 3552. https://doi.org/10.1080/01442872.2015.1107959

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zhao, Suisheng, ed. 2000. China and Democracy: The Prospect for a Democratic China. New York: Routledge.

Contributor Notes

Nele Noesselt is professor of global governance and politics of East Asia/China at the University of Duisburg-Essen. E-mail: nele.noesselt@uni-due.de

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Democratic Theory

An Interdisciplinary Journal

  • Ash, Alec. 2020. “The Chinese ‘Alt-Left’ Who Support Trump's Alt-Right.” Los Angeles Review of Books: China Channel. September 29. https://chinachannel.org/2020/09/29/alt-left/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bell, Daniel A. 1972. “On Meritocracy and Equality.” The Public Interest (Fall): 29–68. https://www.nationalaffairs.com/public_interest/detail/on-meritocracy-and-equality.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bell, Daniel A. 2015. The China Model: Political Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

  • Bell, Daniel A., and Wang Pei. 2020. Just Hierarch: Why Social Hierarchies Matter in China and in the Rest of the World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

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    • Export Citation
  • Brødsgaard, Kjeld Erik, and Nis Grünberg. 2014. “Key Points of China's Economic Programme after the Third Plenum of the CPC.” China Report 50 (4): 343359. doi:10.1177/0009445514549276.

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    • Export Citation
  • Bryant, Octavia, and Mark Chou. 2016. “China's New Silk Road: Autocracy Promotion in the New Asian Order?Democratic Theory 3 (2): 114124. https://doi.org/10.3167/dt.2016.030207

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cai, Xia. 2011. 推进宪政民主应该是中国共产党的执政使命 (“The Promotion of Constitutional Democracy Should Be the Political Mission of the CCP”). http://www.gdncit.org/newsitem/275980804.

  • Cao, Qing. 2010. “The Re-Imagined West in Chinese Television: A Case Study of the CCTV Documentary Series The Rise of the Great Powers.” Journal of Language and Politics 9 (4): 615633.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chai, Shangjin. 2019. 当今西方代议制民主的困境 (“The Problems of Contemporary Western Representative Democracy”). Hongqi (Red Flag) 4. http://www.qstheory.cn/dukan/hqwg/2019-02/26/c_1124164026.htm.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chen, Xuelian. 2018. “Remaking the Loyal Cadres: The Ideological Responsibility System in China's New Era.Journal of Chinese Governance 3 (3): 292306. https://doi.org/10.1080/23812346.2018.1493023

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • China Daily. 2021. “Quotable Quotes: Xi Jinping on Socialist Democracy.” March 2. https://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202103/02/WS603de050a31024ad0baac2eb.html.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cui, Zhiyuan. 1994. 制度創新與第二次思想解放 (“Institutional Innovation and a Second Liberation of Thought”). http://www.cuhk.edu.hk/ics/21c/media/articles/c024-199401068.pdf.

  • Dallmayr, Fred, and Tingyang Zhao, eds. 2012. Contemporary Chinese Political Thought: Debates and Perspectives. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Diamond, Larry. 2021. “Democratic Regression in Comparative Perspective: Scope, Methods, and Causes.Democratization 28 (1): 2242. https://doi.org/10.1080/13510347.2020.1807517

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Feng, Zhaoyin. 2019. “Why I Translate All of Trump's Tweets into Chinese.” BBC, August 9. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49092612.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fukuyama, Francis. 1992. The End of History and the Last Man. New York: Free Press.

  • Gao, Jie. 2015. “Pernicious Manipulation of Performance Measures in China's Cadre Evaluation System.” The China Quarterly 223: 618–637. https://doi:10.1017/S0305741015000806.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gao, Quanxu. 2012. 中国自由主义的政治成熟 (“The Maturity of Chinese Liberals”). https://www.aisixiang.com/data/56518.html.

  • Global Times. 2019. “West Fails to Understand China's Democracy.” December 24. https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1174652.shtml.

  • Global Times. 2021. “The US Is Its Own Enemy on Democracy.” January 8. https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202101/1212254.shtml.

  • Guo, Baogang. 2003. “Political Legitimacy and China's Transition.” Journal of Chinese Political Science 8: 1–25. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02876947.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Guo, Baogang. 2020. “A Partocracy with Chinese Characteristics: Governance System Reform under Xi Jinping.” Journal of Contemporary China 29 (126): 809823. DOI: 10.1080/10670564.2020.1744374

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hu, Zhongda. 1957. 雅典的民主政治及其阶级基础 (“Athenian Democracy and Its Class Foundations”). Lishi Jiaoxue (History Teaching) 6: 2129.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Huang, Wenjuan. 2008. 先秦法家法治思想的衍变 : 以《管子》、《商君书》和《韩非子》为中心 (“The Development of the “Rule of Law” Ideology of the Pre-Qin Legalist School: With the Focus on Guan Zi, The Book of Shang Yang and Han Feizi”). Guanzi Xuebao (Guanzi Journal) 3: 2327.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jenco, Leigh. 2015. Changing Referents: Learning Across Space and Time in China and the West. New York: Oxford University Press.

  • Jiang, Shigong. 2010. “Written and Unwritten Constitutions: A New Approach to the Study of Constitutional Government in China.” Modern China 36 (1), 12–14. https://doi.org/10.1177/0097700409349703.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jiang, Qing. 2014. 政治儒学 : 当代儒学的转向, 特质与发展 (Political Confucianism: Trends, Characteristics, Developments of Contemporary Confucianism). Fuzhou: Fujian Jiaoyu Chubanshe.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lee, Yimou. 2019. “Taiwan Leader Rejects China's ‘One Country, Two Systems’ Offer.Reuters. October 10. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-taiwan-anniversary-president-idUSKBN1WP0A4.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Li, He. 2014. “Chinese Intellectual Discourse on Democracy.Journal of Chinese Political Science 19 (3): 289314. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11366-014-9300-8

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Li, He. 2015. Political Thought and China's Transformation. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Li, Shangli. 2021. The Construction of Democracy: China's Theory, Strategy and Agenda. Singapore: World Scientific.

  • Lin, Yao. 2021. “Beaconism and the Trumpian Metamorphosis of Chinese Liberal Intellectuals.” Journal of Contemporary China 30 (127): 85101. DOI: 10.1080/10670564.2020.1766911.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Liu, Jiuyong. 2020. 中国协商政治的”民主性”辨析 (“Identification of Democracy in Chinese Consultative Politics:” An Attempt of Constructing a Consultative Democratic Theory”). CASS Journal of Political Science 5: 3951.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Liu, Junning. 2000. “Classical Liberalism Catches On in China.” Journal of Democracy 11: 4857. doi:10.1353/jod.2000.0059.

  • Lu, Kevin. 2012. “The Chongqing Model Worked.” Foreign Policy. August 8. https://foreignpolicy.com/2012/08/08/the-chongqing-model-worked/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ma, Licheng. 2015. Leading Schools of Thought in Contemporary China. Singapore: World Scientific.

  • Minzner, Carl. 2015. “China after the Reform Era.” Journal of Democracy 26 (3): 129143. https://10.1353/jod.2015.0048.

  • Ogden, Suzanne. 2002. Inklings of Democracy in China. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

  • Pan, Wei. 1999. 法治与未来中国政体 (“Rule of Law and the Future of China's Political System”). Zhanlüe yu Guanli (Strategy and Management) 5: 3036.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pusey, James Reeve. 1983. China and Charles Darwin. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

  • Qin, Hui. 2011. 秦晖: 中国现代自由主义的理论商榷 (“Qin Hui: Theoretical Discussion of Chinese Contemporary Liberalism”). https://www.aisixiang.com/data/42554.html.

  • Qin, Hui. 2015. 走出帝制 (Moving Away from the Imperial System). Beijing: Qunyan Chubanshe.

  • Renmin Ribao. 2019. 十、发展社会主义民主政治(习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想学习纲要 (“10. Developing Socialist Democracy [Outline of Xi Jinping's Thought on Chinese Socialism for the New Era]”). August 5. http://politics.people.com.cn/n1/2019/0805/c1001-31274872.html.

  • Shi, Anshu, François Lachapelle, and Matthew Galway. 2018. “The Recasting of Chinese Socialism: The Chinese New Left since 2000.China Information 32 (1): 139159. https://doi.org/10.1177/0920203X18760416

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tang, Jiapeng. 2019. 马克思主义视域下雅典民主问题三维剖析 (“Three-dimensional Discussion on the Democracy of Athens from the Perspective of Marxism”). Beijing Jiaoyu Xueyuan Xuebao (Journal of Beijing Institute of Education) 33 (1): 2935.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Teng, Biao. 2021. “An Anatomy of Trump's Appeal to Chinese Liberals: A Conversation with Teng Biao.” Made in China Journal, February 1. https://madeinchinajournal.com/2021/02/01/an-anatomy-of-trumps-appeal-to-chinese-liberals-a-conversation-with-teng-biao/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • US Department of State. 2021. “Secretary Antony J. Blinken, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Director Yang and State Councilor Wang at the top of their Meeting.” March 18. https://www.state.gov/secretary-antony-j-blinken-national-security-advisor-jake-sullivan-chinese-director-of-the-office-of-the-central-commission-for-foreign-affairs-yang-jiechi-and-chinese-state-councilor-wang-yi-at-th/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wang, Hui. 2006. China's New Order: Society, Politics, and Economy in Transition. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

  • Wang, Jianxu. 2017. “特朗普要做的是回归“美国精神” (“What Trump Does Is a Return to the ‘American Spirit’”). https://www.thepaper.cn/newsDetail_forward_1607425.

  • Wang, Shaoguang. 2008. 民主四讲 (Four Lectures on Democracy). Beijing: Shenghuo Dushu Sanlian Shudian.

  • Wang, Shaoguang. 2014a. 中国 : 政道 (China: Ways of Political Rule). Beijing: Renmin Daxue Chubanshe.

  • Wang, Shaoguang. 2014b. 代表型民主与代议型民主 (“Representational Democracy and Representative Democracy”). http://www.opentimes.cn/Abstract/1946.html.

  • Wells, Audrey. 2001. The Political Thought of Sun Yat-sen: Development and Impact. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

  • Xi, Jinping. 2020. 谈治国理政 (The Governance of China). Beijing: Waiwen Chubanshe.

  • Xinhua. 2019a. 习近平 : 中国的民主是一种全过程的民主 (“Xi Jinping: China's Democracy is a Whole-Process Democracy”). March 11. http://www.xinhuanet.com/politics/leaders/2019-11/03/c_1125186412.htm.

  • Xinhua. 2019b. 中共十九届四中全会《决定》(全文) (“Full Text of the Decisions of the Fourth Plenum of the Nineteenth Central Committee”). November 5. https://news.ifeng.com/c/7rMGsaMgu0G.

  • Xue, Lan and Kaibing Zhong. 2012. “Domestic Reform and Global Integration: Public Administration Reform in China over the Last 30 Years.International Review of Administrative Sciences 78 (2): 284304. https://doi.org/10.1177/0020852312438784

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yan, Shaoxiang. 2003. 从理想到暴政: 古典时代希腊人的雅典民主观 (“From Politeia to Ochlocracy: Athenian Democracy in Writings of the Classical Greek Age”). Huadong Shifan Daxue Xuebao (Journal of China Eastern University) 35 (6): 4956.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yan, Shaoxiang. 2004. 民主还是暴政: 希腊化时代与罗马时代思想史中的雅典民主问题 (“Democracy or Tyranny: The Athenian Democracy in the Hellenistic Age and the History of Roman Thoughts”). Shijie Lishi (World History) 1: 4957.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Young, Michael D. 1958. The Rise of Meritocracy. London: Thames & Hudson.

  • Young, Michael. 2001. “Down with Meritcracy.” The Guardian. June 28. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2001/jun/29/comment.

  • Yu, Keping. 2008. Democracy Is a Good Thing: Essays on Politics, Society, and Culture in Contemporary China. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yu, Keping. 2019. “Democracy in China: Challenge or Opportunity?https://ash.harvard.edu/files/ash/files/democracyinchina_0.pdf.

  • Yuen, Samson. 2013. “Debating Constitutionalism in China: Dreaming of a Liberal Turn?China Perspectives 4. http://journals.openedition.org/chinaperspectives/6325.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yuen, Samson. 2014. “Disciplining the Party Xi Jinping's Anti-Corruption Campaign and Its Limits.” China Perspectives 3: 41–47. https://doi.org/10.4000/chinaperspectives.6542.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zhang, Shuhua. 2019. “Chinese Democracy Has Its Own Merits.” Global Times. March 11. https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1141696.shtml.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
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