Elsa and Xi (2) Autocracies Don’t Work

Xi didn’t answer Elsa’s letter. She doesn’t even know it had reached him. Still, she decides to write again.

Dear Xi:

I trust you will get this letter. The previous one is probably stuck somewhere in traffic but I don’t give up easily. I just keep trying.

The rise of China has been fantastic. In a very short time, since WWII, you have steadily improved and become a powerful nation. Your people have reason to feel very proud of their accomplishments, same as the Japanese, the South Koreans and the Taiwanese (more on the last in another letter).

Before you came to power, there were many leaders before you that directed your nation’s growth. They deserve a share of the credit. Deng Xiaoping was of great relevance.

At this time you are speaking of China’s quest for world dominance. You may not use those words but your actions point to that.

This worries me.

You have altered China’s constitution so you can be reelected again and again. That is not good.

Autocracies don’t work. Just look at Russia. No one doubts that Russians are smart people but they have consented to a system of government that has hindered their political evolution. Boris Yeltsin deserves much blame for this, for it was him who chose Putin as his successor. Sadly, Yeltsin drank too much and that affected his judgment. Why else select the chief of the KGB, the secret service at the time, to be the leader of a nascent democracy? Ah, life is full of errors like that. If a man with a belief in democracy had been chosen instead, Russia would have been a different nation today.

Autocracies atrophy the potential of nations. In your own country, had Mao believed in the importance of the transfer of power, he would not have committed the grave blunder that was the Cultural Revolution, and China would have been spared years of much pain and suffering.

You went through that, as did your family, but here you are choosing to ignore the lessons of history. Unbelievable, isn’t it? How we humans make the same mistake again and again.

Autocracies keep leaders from speaking the truth, because the truth will threaten their power.

Democracy is an imperfect system, but it beats autocracy.

At present you are letting your desire for personal power to corrupt your thinking and mislead your people. You are letting your personal failing interfere with the wellbeing of your nation.

Nowhere is that more evident than in your persistent effort to censor free speech.

No one, Xi, no one, has a monopoly on the truth, which is why we need to encourage everyone’s opinion.

All those people who assembled in the hall that voted for you to be the leader of China until you die, did so out of intimidation, because they were afraid to speak the truth.

Democracies are filled with lies and deception also, but not as much as autocracies.

And you, having lived through the Mao period, should know it well.

The good news is that you still have time to reverse course and set your nation on a path to democracy.

Xi, imagine for a moment that you were to do that. Just imagine your restoring the right of people to express themselves. Then, the entire world would be grateful. Nations would ask for your advice and look to China as an example to follow. Wherever you went you would be greeted with enthusiasm.  

Which brings me to another point. You must be fully honest.

There is no doubt of your country’s multiple accomplishments, but China’s rise has benefitted from technologies created in the West and China has stolen much of it.

Level with your people. Tell the truth. Yes, you are a creative nation with much potential. You are hard working and ambitious. It is amazing, for instance, that you have gone to the moon already and have plans for further space exploration. But you have stolen and hacked plenty of intellectual secrets.

Just think about it.

Xi, I think I’ve said enough for today.

I hope it hasn’t upset you too much.

On another topic: I was glad to see Boris Johnson and the EU finally come to an agreement for Britain’s exit. Britain was never much into it, but they most definitely benefitted from the partnership with Europe, particularly by letting in so many foreigners who have enriched their genetic pool. I’m sure they will do well.

One final note: today, 1/6/2021, became a special day for America for two reasons. The state of Georgia elected two democratic senators, one Black, one White, which will give Joe Biden a majority in the Senate. And today also, a mob of Trump supporters, angry because their leader lost the election, burst into congress in protest before they were thrown out. So, yes, in a democracy abuses of power happen, but nations that are strong enough correct them.

Will you help China find its strength?

Hope you get his letter. Have a happy new year.

Elsa

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