Opinion: Democratic phenomena in China

Haoran Li

Haoran Li is a sophomore communication studies major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater.

Contact him at [email protected].

China’s last dynasty fell more than 100 years ago. This has not only been a way from feudalism to modernization but also a way from an empire to a modern nation-state. The essence of the modern nation state is democracy. There are critics who say that China is lacking democracy. They seem right. However, the Chinese government has been struggling with whether to continue to implement dictatorship.

The government has two main groups. The left wing wants to guide China to a socialist country. The right wing wants to guide China to a free-market country and implement constitutionalism. Unlike the left, the right wing is pushing China into democracy. The left wing’s leader, Bo Xilai, failed and was jailed. The new president of China, Xi Jing Pin, and China’s prime minister, Li KeQiang, are right-wing. It is a signal that China will be more democratic in the near future. The Chinese people’s democracy is not as horrible as westerners think. However, their democracy is not as great as that in Western countries, especially America. Chinese people are allowed limited freedom of speech on microblogs. Chinese people will learn more methods of democracy via limited Internet resources. Some of them have had fundamental consciousness about democracy and have had courage to speak out on the Internet.

There is a Chinese Facebook called RenRen. RenRen means person to person. The QianXiang company started RenRen in 2009. It targets young people in China, especially high school and university students. Teenagers post pictures of their life on RenRen. For example, they post what food they have eaten, what clothes they have bought — especially luxury clothes — what places they have visited, what cars they have owned, and so on. However, that does not mean young people can post what they want on RenRen.

If people post news which is not favorable for the government, the news is deleted. The users concentrate more on their life and entertainment news. It is easy to find out what Chinese young people prefer to do through RenRen. They can get information from Western countries with limited Internet resources. Through RenRen, they spread fashion news, sports news, and Western countries’ pictures, movies and music. Their life is going to be globally involved indeed. It can be inferred from Chinese young people’s behavior on RenRen that democracy in China has developed. In the next generation, democracy may develop faster than in the last 30 years.

Microblogs and RenRen are just two democratic phenomena in China. The Chinese government is ruled by the right wing of the Communist Party of China. They are trying to transform China smoothly into a democratic country. Chinese people are delighted to experience democracy. They will require more rights when they have learned more about democracy in the near future. At that time, China will transform into a real democratic country.