China’s Challenge to Democracy. The Big Panda Embrace

Photo by Mike van Schoonderwalt on

They have benefitted enormously from the West, absorbing its science, technology and ways of doing things – everything they found worthwhile in every area of development – and then rose and rose, surpassing Russia and the Eurozone and pulling itself up to become a rival to America.

That they are seeking world dominance they won’t say but judging by the manner in which they carry on their appetite seems insatiable. 

At no time has there been a greater challenge to democracy.

China is saying to us, ‘You cannot move up as fast as we can, and we will overcome you for we are unstoppable. We have become the factory to the world and all hurry to be part of our enormous markets.’

Turning to its people, China’s leadership says, ‘The world comes to us because they want money. We have that through our labor force, talented people and enormous markets. And because we have been so successful enriching others we have enriched ourselves. So we can make a bargain with all of you, fellow citizens. We will protect you, grant you the benefits of continued prosperity and provide you with all the conveniences of modern life. Furthermore, we promise you will grow proud as China rises to be the dominant nation on Earth. What we want from you in turn, is that you surrender your freedom of speech. We want from you, that you consent to being constantly surveilled to ensure there will be no dissent against the Chinese Communist Party. Think about this. It is a small concession to make, considering all the gains we will achieve as a united nation, not torn apart by petty political differences like in the rest of the West and particularly in America. What we, Chinese, are doing now, has never been done before. No nation has ever risen so fast from so low. We are a nation of destiny, showing the world by our actions, that we have discovered the best system to rule its citizens. For too long, Americans have believed that their system of government was the best. They speak grandly of exceptionalism. But take a good look at how they have treated their minorities, Blacks in particular, for centuries. And still they want to preach to the world. How dare they. At look at how money buys political influence. You make money and you go right to the front of the line, even if you are inept politically. Only in America can you turn an expertise in building hotels into a credential to lead a country. And Americans fell for it. And they did because they lack political education. Unlike here in our great land, where the hard working communist party, with 91 million members, devote their life to keeping the system flowing. 

But back to America. Look at how they kill themselves because of their unrestricted access to guns. Take a city like Chicago – the South side – the killings go on and on, administration after administration, whether it be Obama or Trump, they just keep killing each other. And look at how poverty is widespread. As for their cultural life, sure, now and then they will make a good movie or write a good song, but we, too, are working on that. Fellow Chinese citizens, the restrictions that we have imposed on free speech and surveillance will not last forever. We estimate, that with proper political instruction and our steady development it will take us no more than another 25 years – a conservative estimate – before we become the most powerful and most advanced nation in the world. In that time, we will have achieved total superiority. And yes, everyone in America will be wanting to speak Mandarin for that is the most beautiful language the world has ever heard. Your children and your grandchildren and heirs to follow, will revere you for the sacrifices you are now making on their behalf. The fact that we will achieve superiority will not mean that we will impose our system on others, but as other nations see how effective we are they will try to emulate us. And yes, eventually Taiwan will be part of the mainland, in the same way Hong Kong is returning to our embrace. The big Panda embrace. How can you not like that feeling?

Others will follow our lead willingly, joyously, for we will lead through our example. 

In America, today, Joe Biden is trying to get his citizens to renew themselves, but our leadership feels his efforts have come too late. 

Joe Biden has ambitions plans for the renewal of infrastructure, for education, for research and development, but already the Republican party is objecting, so Biden’s ambitious reforms will be trimmed, which is good for China. 

America is just too divided while we are united, which is our great strength.

We believe that America will not be able to make the necessary reforms to their system to catch up with us.

Let us give you one example. China tried to be part of the International Space station but we were no accepted. They were afraid we would learn too much. And so we have started to create our own. On April 28th we launched Tianhe or ‘Harmony of The Heavens,’ the first of three modules that will form our own space station by the end of 2022. Does that not make you feel proud of what our system can do?   

Slowly, over time, America will acknowledge our superiority, but there will be those who will want to resort to violence. Leaders who prefer to fight an enemy without than confront the enemy within. Envious people. But we will be prepared. We are building more and more nuclear weapons to act as a deterrent.’ 

That is the message the Chinese leadership is giving to their people.

What will Russia do in the face of China’s rise?

Putin has cast a spell on the Russian people which has interfered with their political development but my take is that the Russian people lean more to the West than to China. 

Eventually, as Russia emerges from their stupor, they will elect a more pro-Western government.

But can America answer China’s challenge?

Can we make the necessary structural changes and shine? 

Can we evolve to having a dialogue amongst ourselves and eradicate racism? 

Can we improve our education and health systems sufficiently that every citizen will have the opportunity they need to be the best they can be? 

Can we defeat crime? 

Can we stop the high level of incarceration that is a sign of poor investment in our people?

Can we stop killing ourselves? 

The answer lies in pulling ourselves together and working toward a common purpose. To do it we need bipartisan leadership willing to dialogue. 

And we have to get started right away.

Oscar Valdes.

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.