Looks like we spoke too soon. Just when we told you that Chinese media were getting the hang of the art of spin, look what we found in today’s Shanghai Daily. Not one, but two pieces of pure, unadulterated propaganda that would make any Xinhua editor blush. Oh wait a minute, they actually came from Xinhua.
The first piece, entitled Multi-party systems far from perfect in delivering stability to people, started off:
SOME people say that China had better adopt a two-party or a multi-party political system for its own good. They are wrong.
Plato says that the structure of the souls of citizens determines the structure of the state. That’s true.
It then goes on to admit that while a two-party or multi-party political system is “better than authoritarianism and dictatorship”, it is not without its “inherent disadvantages”, such as encouraging “conflict, utilitarianism and the tyranny of the majority”. The minority would be made to bow to the majority although “truth can often rest in the hands of the few” (gosh).
The piece ends with the following gem which really gets to the heart of the matter:
A two-party or multi-party system usually deteriorates into political games manipulated by some politicians under the guise of democracy. Look at what has happened in Taiwan (province) and you will understand.
If we apply a two-party or a multi-party system in the Chinese mainland, it is probable that more than a thousand parties would emerge, each fighting for its own narrow interests. It might also throw China into a civil war.
A second piece entitled, Western capitalist democracy not viable choice for socialist China, declared:
NO democracy, no socialism. If there is no democracy Chinese-style, there can be no socialism with Chinese characteristics.
Therefore, to develop democracy in China, three things must be well balanced: the leadership of the Communist Party, the master status of the people, and the rule of law.
It is stuff like this that appears every once in a while that makes us wonder if Shanghai Daily was written for expatriates in mind or for Chinese learners of English. And believe you us, they are starting to understand spin. But perfecting it will take a long while more.
Photo of the Great Hall of the People, site of the upcoming 17th Party Congress from L. Michael Roberts