Li reaches two major conclusions. First, that there is Chinese exceptionalism just as there is American exceptionalism. And, second that the American idea is fundamentally borne from Judeo-Christian theological roots, concepts that are entirely alien to the development of China. Ergo, American notions of democracy — as an end in and of itself — will not work for a country like China.
Without wading into whether these conclusions have merit, I’ve noticed they are at the core of Li’s writings. For example, in this Huffington Post dispatch, he equates America’s moral certitude on liberal democracy with the utopian idealism of hardcore Marxists.
Clearly a provocateur, Li champions Chinese exceptionalism and is likely viewed by some critics as a cheerleader for the Chinese government.
Yet having observed his live discussions and op-eds, what strikes me is his thoroughly western style of discourse and his ability to prod, irrespective of how disagreeable or flawed one finds his arguments.
All of which is to say that he seems to have adopted the traits of a rising public intellectual, on who is Chinese but is also highly capable of communicating ideas to the “West,” unlike the pro forma statements that the Chinese foreign ministry regularly recycles.
-DAMIEN MA, CHINA ANALYST WITH THE EURASIA GROUP.
Ma describes the worldview of Eric X. Li, a rising Chinese intellectual who recently got tongues wagging with Why China’s Political Model Is Superior, a New York Times op-ed extolling the virtues of the Chinese political system.
Ma’s full article from the Atlantic here.