I came across this fascinating TED talk video last night. The talk was delivered by Yasheng Huang, a professor of School of Management at MIT. He addressed the puzzle: Why China has grown so much faster than India over the last three decades?
As you might expect, the answers about China’s remarkable growth are not alien whatsoever. China outperformed India in terms of infrastructure, education, life expectancy, and GDP per capita. And for Huang, the key reason behind these fortunes rests on the leeway of Chinese government to act above the rule of law. Unlike their democratic counterparts, Chinese political system facilitates the state to come up with important policies quite handily. While democratic India faces many constraints on policy-making processes (paired with the weak capacity of the state’s bureaucrats), single party system in China enables the state to draw a straight line from the top to lowest-level officials whenever the sizeable agreement needed.
But it doesn’t assume the Chinese political system is unchanged. Instead, and this is exactly the point of Huang’s talk, what makes Chinese system looks impressive is the ability to balance the “static and dynamics” of the system. The “static” simply means the persistence of the regime and party’s structure to change. China maintains its unity and stability as the main features of “Chinese characteristic” since 1949 when the CCP established the modern China. Whereas the “dynamics” refer to a handful of political reforms occurred in China over the last three decades. One may raise a question: How can political reforms in authoritarian government possible? It’s quite ambiguous. Yet Kerry Brown might better illustrate these less understood reforms. He notes how, since 1988, China has undertaken a millions of grassrootselections. The people in village levels voted to choose roughly three million officials in their respective districts. The offices were opened not only for the CCP’s cadre, but also for a wide of range of people who were willing to involve in public services. Brown claims that these village elections could be less understood by people who are more familiar holding the standard “free and fair” elections. The village elections or “grassroots democracy” in China were not intended to choose the top officials in national level but rather selecting public officers in lower/village level. Thus when the solid party structure remains unchanged, the grassroots officials were chosen according to the Chinese “democratic” style.
I am not having a particular interest in Chinese politics nor its political system. But this phenomenon always pondering me to think: What makes the Chinese system endures? Simply the presence of skillful communist cadres, no? And, given its peculiar political and economic circumstances, will such a system lasted in the long run?