In accordance with the reality of Taiwan's sovereignty, an independent country should be established and a new constitution drawn up in order to make the legal system conform to the social reality in Taiwan and in order to return to the international community according to the principles of international law.Political Platform of Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party – Modified in 1991 and 1995
China's unification should aim at promoting Chinese culture, safeguarding human dignity, guaranteeing fundamental human rights, and practicing democracy and the rule of law. Taiwan’s Guidelines for Unification 1991
Taiwan is part of the sacred territory of the People's Republic of China. It is the inviolable duty of all Chinese people, including our compatriots in Taiwan, to accomplish the great task of reunifying the motherland.
China has written the recovery of Taiwan into its Constitution. One of the planks in Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party platform is Taiwan Independence. These political goals are revered by each side and are in conflict. While idealistic political factors divide, political realities could lead to compromise by both sides. Because of China’s size, economic clout, military power and political conviction, Taiwan’s complete independence is probably not an option. However, as will be discussed in Chapter 6, the degree of political autonomy Taiwan will enjoy can be negotiated. One key that will determine the timing for a final settlement and the scope of Taiwan’s autonomy seems to be in the potential democratization or introduction of a rule of law in to China.62
Taiwan demands that China become more democratic, under the principles authored by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, before talks about unification can progress.63Is this the central issue that Taiwan is concerned about? Are there real and significant political or ideological differences that Taiwan’s leaders or people cannot accept? After all, the political systems of both were mirror image authoritarian political systems less than twenty-five years ago. Can it be said that the mainland is going down the same road, but is just a few years behind Taiwan in its democratization process? Will the political factor continue to drive Taiwan and China apart or will their political systems become close enough someday to allow an accommodation? We will see in the next chapter that if we were to focus only on the economic factor we generally see imperatives for unification or some form of accommodation while the political factor seems to drive them apart.
The thesis of this chapter is that the underlying political philosophies of Taiwan and China are not as different as they appear and that future political change could, over time, bring the two sides close enough together to find an accommodation. Taiwan has gone through momentous political change from a strict totalitarian state to a fully democratic state. China is still a strict totalitarian state and is now undergoing slow measured political change in a democratic direction. The question is whether it will reach a point at which its political system represents an advantage to the Taiwanese and not a threat.
This chapter will first compare the underlying political philosophies of each side to determine if there is any room for negotiation and agreement on a common ideology. It will then examine the respective paths to democratization in detail. The analysis of Taiwan’s democratization process will identify key milestones and obstacles that were overcome. Since Taiwan’s democratization process occurred in such a unique set of circumstances, some of the Russian democratization experience will be described briefly to help identify milestones that may be more applicable to China’s path to democratization. Finally, milestones and endeavors within China will be discussed to determine progress or lack of progress toward democratization and to provide a checklist that will help identify key obstacles that, when overcome, could lead to democratization and set the stage for accommodation with Taiwan.
Democratization generates critical changes in perceptions or definitions of fundamental democratic principles (political philosophy or ideology), application (processes) and organizations. China, the United States and Taiwan all claim to be democratic but the definitional differences of democracy are great. The differences are manifested in issues such as human rights, government power abuse, democratic practices like voting rules and the role of the press, and the all-important requirement for some form of checks and balances to prevent the tyranny of the majority or any element of the society.
Perhaps the two most discussed characteristics of democratic philosophy are individual liberty and popular sovereignty. Both are open to different interpretations, as a result of different underlying beliefs or emphasis about morality, and this causes different forms of democracy to develop. Whether the underlying morality is based upon rights, duties or goals makes a difference in the pace of development and the type of political organizations and practices that emerge.64Rights-based morality means the most basic criteria for political processes or action emerge from a central concern for the inalienable rights of the individual. This is the type of political philosophy found in the West, especially America and Western Europe. The more the focus on the individual the more “liberal” the democracy is considered to be. Duty-based morality means the basic rationale for the political system is derived from a paramount concern for the whole society and citizen duty to the state. This form is collective and is the type found in China partly as a result of the Confucian ethic. Goal-based morality takes some goal as the ultimate reason for social organization. Early Communism was goal-based morality. Communist philosophers identified a perfect world and set that as the goal for national policies.
Generally Chinese and Taiwanese motivations to democratize were instrumental. They both believed that the principal reason to adopt a democratic form of government was because democracyled to modernization which would lead to “a more vigorous society and in turn a stronger nation.”65This is quite different from American and European democracies that were initially motivated more by concerns about human rights or abusive government. Within the past fifteen years China has become more concerned with government abuse as manifested in corruption, which is a different form of motivation to democratize and actually comes closer to early Western motivations. Americans look at China and see all forms of political malpractice. It is most evident in the human rights issues like oppression of political or religious dissent. Americans were horrified at the tragedy of Tiananmen on June 4, 1989 when the People’s Liberation Army killed many of its own citizens. Americans were, and still are, upset about the treatment of Falun Gong a group that appears to be a religious movement. Many Americans have demonstrated over the suppression of Tibet’s Buddhist minorities. Finally, Americans are concerned about the lack of press and academic freedom, a justice system that does not protect individual rights, and a government that abuses its citizens. The automatic response, without much thought, has been that the answer mustbe in improving democracy and human rights in China.
The Chinese, on the other hand, look at the United States. Daily in the news they read about violence in the streets, shootings in schools, protected pornography, race or politically inspired riots, denigration of leaders, etc. When they visit the United States they walk down the streets of any major city and see examples of extreme individualism -- young people in strange garb, long or bizarrely colored hair, tattoos and body piercing. They read about what appears to be frivolous lawsuits such as suing McDonalds because their food made the plaintiff fat. They also read about ridiculous lawsuits and excessive settlements that put companies into bankruptcy. They don’t understand how criminals get better treatment than victims. All of these are apparently protected by the democratic constitution and they want no part of these behaviors for China. They claim to want democracy, but they want to define it and reach it in their own way. For the most part that means slowly and controlled. It also means maintaining a collective more than an individual orientation. It also means emphasizing the rule of law over elections.66They want to evolve in a way that avoids the excesses they see in the United States. Generally they appreciate the basic American Constitution, but have problems with some of the amendments, like the First Amendment, as going too far in creating this excessive individualism. The Chinese scholar, Wei Pan notes that the Western form of election democracy tends to exacerbate social cleavages and that a rule of law based on morality could better lead to social order.
Many Chinese intellectuals in China and Taiwan have a deep understanding of democracy.67It is true that there are many pundits in both China and Taiwan who discuss what is needed for democratization in a very superficial way and really don’t understand the fundamental concepts of democracy. On the other hand, there are scholars in both areas who have studied classic and modern writers on democracy (like Aristotle, Locke, Rousseau, Bendix, and Dahl) and understand the concepts in great depth. It is not merely a matter that the Chinese "do not understand” what democracy really is. Many understand western notions of democracy very well and reject them as not being applicable to the culturally distinct China.
Taiwan’s perceptions of democracy are generally somewhere between the Chinese and American perceptions. They understand the characteristics of both sides better than either of them understand each other. They have the same rich cultural tradition as China, but a very high percentage of the leaders and youth in Taiwan have been educated in or subjected to the TV and movie culture of the West. It is important to not use an American frame of reference to determine how far apart Taiwan and China are when it comes to democracy.
Historically Americans and Taiwanese have been reared on anti-communist rhetoric and the Chinese on anti-capitalist propaganda. In America there was a time when the slogan “better dead than red” was genuinely believed. In China the picture of heartless exploiters of the poor and American imperialist warmongers was enough to energize any good citizen. The US and China even fought a war that the Chinese still refer to as the Anti-US Aggression War in Korea. The propaganda machines of both Taiwan and China have been extremely vitriolic over the years. Only in the past 15 years have they been toned down.
Throughout the long history of China, democracy has not been practiced. But this is not to say that early Chinese history and literature had not contemplated the underlying philosophies of democracy. China’s rich cultural heritage, shared by both China and Taiwan, shows a number of philosophical discussions on topics like the role of the individual, the relationship between state and society, the mandate for leadership, the role of government organization, etc.68During the 20th Century and prior to 1949, when the communists and nationalists split, China experimented with democracy on a very limited scale.69It was not until the transition to democracy by Taiwan in the 1980s and 1990s that Chinese citizens enjoyed its first democracy as defined by western scholars.
Obviously real political contradictions are much more complicated than these superficial analyses. I will examine each of the characteristics (liberty and popular sovereignty) to approach a better understanding of the differences between China and Taiwan. I will add depth to the analysis by discussing key issues that explain why certain differences exist. I will weave in a conceptual discussion of the major political options that emerge in the movement toward liberalization or democratization. I will describe the Chinese and Taiwanese paths to democratization to substantiate generalizations. Finally, I will discuss how another political activity, foreign political relationships, has had an influence on movement toward democracy.
Again, the critical key for purposes of this study though is not to identify the differences between American and Chinese perceptions of democracy, but to identify the key differences between Taiwanese and Chinese perceptions of democracy. After all, the most fundamental demand of Taiwan is for China to become more democratic before there can be an accommodation. So what is it that Taiwan really wants to see changed?
This chapter will examine the issues mentioned above in order to identify the degree of political differences between China and Taiwan and to compare the two “democratization” paths. It will not discuss the changing environment that contributes to democratization such as the emergence of middle class or increased education levels as suggested by Samuel Huntington in the Third Wave.70It will focus on events, political processes, organizations, and personalities that have influenced political change.
Most writings about democracy in China or Taiwan have focused on processes and structure rather than political philosophies. One outstanding exception is a work edited by Suisheng Zhao entitled China and Democracy: Reconsidering the Prospects for a Democratic China. In that book Zhao and his fellow scholars, mostly Chinese, recognize that if we are to predict a coming of democracy in China we will necessarily have to scrutinize the underlying philosophy and its evolution.
Although there are numerous writings about the complex differences between the philosophies and typologies of democracies, the central distinctions are threefold: the primacy of the individual versus the primacy of the society (individualism versus collectivism), the issue of popular sovereignty, which includes competitive elections and a checks and balances system, and the relationship between election democracy and the rule of law. Obviously there are many other differences in the theories of democracy and there are many categories of democracy. Importantly, the issue of individual liberty, which comes from a more liberal form of democracy, is more an issue between China and the United States than between China and Taiwan. One of the most important practical consequences of the different perceptions about democracy surfaces in the question of human rights.
The concept of human rights is the one issue that brings out most of the major differences in diverse views of democracy. In the eyes of some Chinese it is a concept that seems to wrongly legitimize the meddling in the internal affairs of one state by another state or group of states. It is one of the principal issues that causes friction between the United States and China. It is also an issue that Taiwan uses to enlist the support of Americans in its conflict with China.
Examination of human rights issues illuminates basic differences in political philosophies and the role of major concepts like individual liberty and government power abuse in defining democratic practices. Basically Americans promote the western tradition of rights of the individual as paramount. China, and Taiwan to a certain extent, advocate the priority of the group over the individual.71
Americans believe that if the rights of the individual are protected and nurtured there is a better opportunity for each person to reach his/her greatest potential and make the greatest contribution to society. If each individual makes a maximum contribution, the group or society will progress better politically, economically and culturally. The Chinese cultural tradition, on the other hand, promotes the priority of the group and decisions are made for the good of the group, rather than the individual, to ensure progress. There are detailed rational arguments for both sides of this debate. Chinese intellectuals believe that it cannot just be assumed that in a democracy the focus on the individual is inherently right.
Most Western civilizations have produced scholarly works by notable philosophers, such as those of Aristotle, John Locke and John Stuart Mill that address the question of liberty and the inalienable rights of the individual. They developed ideas of individual freedom and liberty and limits on the authority of society and government over the individual. It began as a concern to protect the weak from the strong.
But it was not until the development of modern democracy in the West, in the 13th Century, that individuals acquired legal or formal protection from arbitrary acts of despotic rulers. The first major statement of those rights was in the Magna Carta of 1215.72That was followed in not too rapid succession by the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679, the Bill of Rights of 1689 (all in England), theAmerican Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man in 1789.
These documents were critical to the development of western democratic concepts that stress the role of the individual. Each of these major milestones of human rights was the internal statement of a single nation-state. They were not imposed from the outside.
Generally in China the philosophical solution to social conflict and organization was in enlightened leadership... mostly in a benevolent dictatorship.73Whether articulated by Confucius, Mencius or other great Chinese thinkers, the two characteristics that developed were that educated elites should make the rules and that social order depended on education of the populace. The result of this approach was not equality, but a hierarchy of superior/subordinate relationships. The Chinese cultural tradition also emphasized the primacy of the group, especially the family, over the individual.
In the Communist system, and previously in Taiwan’s authoritarian system, enlightenment came partially from a comprehensive feedback system combined with the enlightened political philosophy as interpreted by a narrow group of party elites for the society.
Taiwan, under the justification of being in a state of war with China, prior to 1987 was often described as an abuser of human rights, even in the official and annual US State Department’s Human Rights Report. Prior to July 15, 1987 when martial law was lifted in Taiwan, Taiwan’s authoritarian and military leaders suppressed all forms of democratic practices and killed or jailed dissidents regularly. Many who merely disagreed with the single party, Chinese Nationalist (Kuomintang) leadership in Taiwan were severely persecuted. In most cases they were labeled as Communists even though they were promoting forms of Taiwanese independence. The reasoning was that anyone who disagreed with the government was in effect helping the Communists with whom they were at war. As Taiwan democratized, especially after 1986 when opposition parties were legalized, many of those formerly persecuted or exiled individuals returned and now are in fact members of Taiwan’s legislature and executive administration. They went from jail or banishment to lawmaking.
Since many of Taiwan’s lawmakers were persecuted they are now more sensitive to the ideals of human rights. They understand from firsthand experience the need for democratic individual rights protection. But even their thinking is often mitigated by Chinese cultural considerations of group orientation.
Comparing constitutions can offer additional insights into the question of individual versus group orientation. Chapter 2 of the 1982 PRC Constitution provides freedoms for individuals in China at first glance (freedom of assembly, religion, etc.). But the collective nature of the regime is clear in Article 51:
1982 China Constitution Article 51 [Interest of the State]
The exercise by citizens of the People's Republic of China of their freedoms and rights may not infringe upon the interests of the state, of society, and of the collective, or upon the lawful freedoms and rights of other citizens.
In Taiwan Article 23 of the Constitution also allows interpretation of group rights:
Taiwan 1947 Constitution
All the freedoms and rights enumerated in the preceding articles shall not be abridged by law except such as may be necessary to prevent infringement upon the freedoms of others, to avert an imminent danger, to maintain social order, or to promote public welfare.
The American Constitution does not contain an equivalent article to the two above. The closest idea is in the Preamble to the Constitution which mentions the purpose of the constitution and includes the words: “to provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare” of the citizenry. Most of the concern for inalienable individual rights emerged in the amendments to the Constitution that provided for guarantees against government intervention in the lives ofindividual citizens. The only reference to abridging such rights is in the 14thAmendment that says abridgment can come only after due process of law. As the law has developed, the bias toward individual rights is clear.
This disagreement between group versus individual interests is only a partial explanation of different perceptions when it comes to human rights issues. If we are to find potential commonalities in human rights issues we need to introduce the general movement toward universally accepted notions of human rights. It is important to note that universal notions of human rights are dynamic and evolutionary.
All of the UN efforts to identify universal human rights norms are for categories or “groups” of people rather than ways to protect individual rights. 74Since they are collective China can support them.
Before we go further in our discussion of universal or international human rights as mentioned in the UN Charter, it is necessary to note that in other parts of the Charter there are statements that contradict the focus on human rights. Even though in the UN Charter there are attempts to assign some form of international responsibility for human rights, as opposed to a national responsibility, it reduces the force of the human rights statements when it says in Article (2)7:
Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or will require or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter...75
This paragraph provides China with a rationale for interpreting “human rights” in a collective way, based on cultural considerations, rather than in a ways advocated by Western nations that are based on the notions of individual interest priorities. It also allows China to define democracy different from that defined by the West.
The different approaches to human rights, based on culture and history are one influence that suggests the difficulty of the United States in attempting to define and force China or Taiwan to accept the American philosophy as a given.
While the differences between the United States and China in the area of human rights receive much attention, there is now little notice of how Taiwan fits in, but philosophically Taiwan is more like China on some human rights issues than like the United States, even though Taiwan is now considered a democratic entity. Why is this? It is because Taiwan’s interpretation of 2000 years of intellectual history is essentially the same as that of China. While the strong Confucian tradition is neither democratic nor anti-democratic, it does promote the importance of the group over individual.76
China’s claim of being a “Socialist Democracy” provides an immediate clue about the major differences in philosophy.77First, it signals the collectivist or group nature of the philosophy. Secondly, understanding the Marxist/Leninist source of socialism highlights its elitist character. The claims are that “the individual’s interests were inseparable from those of the society and the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) was the trustee of the social interest. Individual interests were therefore subordinate to the social interest represented by the CCP.”78
Even the very pragmatic Deng Xiaoping did not say anything that could be construed as advancing the interests of individual liberty. Quite the contrary, he stated:
Under the socialist system, individual interests are subordinate to collective interests; the interests of the parts are subordinate to the interest of the whole…. This is because, in the final analysis, the interests of the individual and the collective are in unity with each other under the socialist system, so are the interests of the parts and of the whole.79
An example of Chinese intellectual thinking on this topic is when Shaohua Hu points out the essence of individual liberty as discussed by John Locke and John Stuart Mill. He demonstrates that he understands the principle and the rationale of the principle of individual liberty, but he still concludes: “It is important to point out that popular sovereignty takes precedence over individual liberty, because while the former refers to the source and purpose of government, the latter deals with the scope of government.”80
A close analysis of China’s four constitutions (1954, 1975, 1978, and 1982) and intellectual writings and movements in the 1980s and 1990s generally show some concern for the issue of popular sovereignty and finding “democratic” ways to limit state power. But none of the efforts focus on improving the liberty or power of the individual in society.81As Suisheng Zhao points out: “these constitutions were not used by individuals to protect their rights… Rather, they served only to justify Communist rule.”82The bias for the predominance of the collective over the individual is maintained throughout. Potential solutions to the problem of too much state power are always in some form of restructuring or changes in organizational powers to find a balance of power within the state organization. The impetus does not include increased protection for individuals. We can, therefore, see some evolution of the political system toward democracy as defined by popular sovereignty and manifested in organizational checks and balances, but there is and has been no movement toward a democracy defined by individual liberty.
The one exception to this evolution may be economic and not political. As we shall see in the next chapter, the cries for individual freedoms have been almost exclusively for individual economic freedom. Over time there are likely to be more demands placed on the political system to protect the individual’s economic position and some day that may be translated into political liberty.
The foundation of Taiwan’s political philosophy is Sun Yat-sen’s Three People’s Principles and this was the first response given to China’s January 1, 1979 suggestion to unify. Taiwan’s answer was that as soon as China democratizes under the principles outlined by Sun Yat-sen, an accommodation could be reached.
Sun’s philosophy was very similar to that later developed by the PRC: collectivist and elitist. He developed his ideas in an historical period of political decay in China. He tried to reach back by using Chinese history and traditional philosophy, but was also a very serious student of western democracy. He found “democratic” ideas in early Chinese history that could be used to rationalize his doctrines. For example, “the people are most important, while the king is of the least importance.”83Sun went out of his way to justify many of his ideas with quotes from Chinese history and from traditional Confucian doctrine. But it was more than that. He believed old Confucian concepts such as li (礼 ), zheng-ming （正名） and ren （仁） could be used as a foundation for political organization and law in China.84
He traveled to America and Europe to learn more about the ideas there. One of Sun’s principal conclusions was that the democracy of the West was not suited to China and had serious flaws, at least if such democracy were applied to China.85He believed he could improve on that. While he did not cite excessive individualism explicitly as a flaw, he did zero in on liberty.
Sun believed the political and cultural environment in China was not the same as those of Europe and America. He thought that China had too much liberty, not too little – too little government, not too much. He argued that the efficient social organization of families, clans and villages were already in place, but were not sufficient to make the nation strong. He noted that individuals had relative “equal opportunity” and their interests were protected within the scope of the family, clan or village. Sun, then, defined individual liberty as follows: “Liberty consists of being able to move, in having freedom of action within an organized group.”86
Partly because of the chaotic historical environment of the time, Sun was far more concerned with the nation than the individual. He stated that “individual liberty must be sacrificed for the sake of a free nation.”87This is not very different from the arguments in America during wartime when many civil liberties are curtailed. But in the Kuomintang’s case, the “wartime” situation continued for another 70 years from the time Sun conceived of his “Five-Power Constitution” in 1921. While a constitution was promulgated in 1947, it was suspended on May 10, 1949 by the First National Assembly of the KMT by adding the Temporary Provisions Effective during the Period of Communist Rebellion which were not suspended until April 22, 1991.
The constitution that was approved in 1947 did include a number of safeguards to protect individuals in Chapter II, “Rights and Duties of the People.” But as in the PRC Constitution they can easily be negated or interpreted to place the collective at a higher priority than the individual if there is a conflict. For example:
Article 22. All other freedoms and rights of the people that are not detrimental to social order or public welfare shall be guaranteed under the Constitution.
Article 23. All the freedoms and rights enumerated in the preceding Articles shall not be restricted by law except such as may be necessary to prevent infringement upon the freedoms of other persons, to avert an imminent crisis, to maintain social order or to advance public welfare.
The question now is how much this has changed since Taiwan is no longer a single party state. Has the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which took over power in 1999, been able to change the political philosophy that placed the collective at a higher priority than the individual? There is no question but that DPP members have special sensitivities to government infringement on individual freedoms, but until now the focus of their attention has been to gain power, to worry about assuring popular sovereignty and building a structure that creates appropriate political checks and balances. There is still no major change to place individual rights at the highest priority.
The other side of the individual liberty coin is government power abuse and historically the solution to such abuse has been to increase the franchise of the people or to establish some form of popular sovereignty. The two principal elements of popular sovereignty are: competitive elections and separation of powers (or a checks and balances system). The result in both cases is to limit the power of government.88
Nearly all actions that are labeled government power abuse are rationalized by the government being accused, as action designed for the common good of a greater number: a group orientation. The remedy is said to be to democratize or to expand the franchise to allow more people to participate and/or to create some form of organizational checks and balances.
A system of free, fair and competitive elections is one of the most important signs of the beginning of a democratization process. In both China and Taiwan local elections began under the strict control of the single party. In both cases the elections may have contained the seeds of a more liberal democracy even though they were not intended that way.
The Leninist political organization system of both Taiwan and China provides a specific role for local elections and that role is not for democratic development. In both cases local elections were used initially to identify natural leaders in a basic or grass roots level political community. Once identified, Leninist doctrine provides the next step of co-opting those elected and working very hard with many proven methods to bring them into the dominant party and indoctrinate them to the point that they become loyal party representatives. Certainly if the individual elected were to have any aspirations of promotion to higher levels of leadership, acceptance by the dominant party would be necessary. Those who reject the dominant party are isolated and work is begun to keep them at a low, unimportant level and to challenge the reputation of the elected individual. For example, an individual who continues to reject joining the dominant party would find it difficult to obtain needed resources from higher levels. He or she would also be excluded from some key government meetings. Scholars who report on village elections usually only describe political activities at a given point in time and often miss this behind the scenes effort that may have a profound influence in later periods. Since Taiwan has advanced farther along the democratic road, I will consider it first and then China.
Taiwan traveled a unique road with visible milestones to democratization. Generally the democratization process included pressures from the top and the bottom of the political system. At the top it was the democracy written into the official ideology which is derived from Sun Yat- sen’s Three People’s Principles and the 1947 Constitution and the personal endeavor of some of the most senior political leaders.
At the bottom it was the development of voting habits through local elections and the creation of an opposition party. Although some KMT leaders believed local elections could be manipulated and controlled, the participation habits had the unintended consequences of laying a foundation for real democratic elections and expectations that the vote should count. Critical to the process in Taiwan, however, was the development of an opposition party that could aggregate and promote the pressures from below.
There is no disagreement that if it were not for Taiwan’s late President Chiang Ching-kuo, the KMT could have continued its oppressive control for many more years. There is also no doubt that the situation in Taiwan was unique.
During the period from 1946 to 1951 the KMT government initiated local elections for citizens from the village to the province level.89The citizens at those levels already had experience at self-governance and local elections under the Japanese.90These elections were remarkably open and inclusive. Anyone, male or female, between the ages of 20 and 61 could compete as long as they “did not oppose or violate the Constitution or the Temporary Provisions and must never engage in activities that would undermine the government’s legitimacy.”91
Over the next four decades the KMT was in fact able to manipulate and control local elections. It was able to do this primarily because of a superior organizational ability. Ultimately its ability to control resources from the national level reinforced control. Not only did the KMT control the funding and resources distributed to local levels for development, it also controlled the media and the educational system. When those failed they were able to call upon the police and military to prevent any organized opposition.
Organizationally the KMT was very effective at co-opting local leaders into the KMT. They established a system in which KMT membership was the only route to upward political mobility. They were able to maintain a firewall between the local levels and the national level and very selectively cultivate local level politicians and bring them to the higher levels. The higher or national level was totally controlled by the highly disciplined KMT members who were elected on the Mainland in 1947 and kept in power with the Temporary Provisions. Since they had a lock on national power they could control local laws as well as the distribution of goods and services to the local levels… and attach strings. For example, if a village official needed a flood control project in his area of responsibility, he had to get the funding, materials and contractors from the national level… all controlled by the KMT. He had to cooperate to survive and if he wanted to prosper he had to go beyond mere cooperation and join the KMT.
Organizationally, the KMT was also very good at writing textbooks and developing school curricula to create the proper attitudes and behavior patterns for good patriotic citizenship. Much of this work was accomplished by the military’s General Political Department.92Leninist organizational skills (democratic centralism, mass line, etc.) also allowed the KMT to mobilize and control mass organizations such as unions, farmers associations, Chambers of Commerce, women’s associations, and other industrial and professional groups.93
In addition to control of formal organizations, the KMT was also able to manage informal local factions through a system of vote brokers (thiao-a-kha) (樁仔腳) and vote buying. Success was due to a combination of having a good feedback (intelligence) system, plenty of money, and a solid hold on the distribution of national resources.94If these Leninist organizational techniques did not work, the KMT resorted to the police and military. Paramount was the Taiwan Garrison Command (TGC) which was established to enforce martial law.95In the environment of a massive military threat from the Mainland, the TGC often used martial law to rationalize extremely oppressive measures. The time of the 1950s into the 1970s (“White Terror" period) was one of extreme measures included arresting and jailing thousands of dissidents without due process as well as suppression of any media that published anything contrary to or critical of KMT policies.96A major problem of this effort was that the TGC combined “communist sympathizers” and “Taiwan independence advocates” in the same category of “subversive.” They believed anything that ran counter to KMT policy aided the Mainland enemy. The result was to exacerbate the division between Mainlanders and Taiwanese and to create a schism that ultimately became the basis for forming an opposition party to counter the total power of the KMT.
During the first four decades of KMT rule in Taiwan, local elections offered no threat to the ruling party. Elections were manageable. During that period pluralist views were held tightly within the single ruling party. Opposition was just not allowed. The KMT, however, went out of its way to insure that all segments of the society were represented within the KMT councils and that the views of all segments were presented and debated - secretly within party confines. Once the senior KMT leader or leadership made a decision, however, there was to be no debate. It was clearly an authoritarian political system which was dominated by a small elite minority.
The KMT even established a voting system that enabled it to manipulate elections and make sure the KMT enjoyed maximum advantage. The system is known as the single vote multi- member system (single non-transferable voting in multi-member districts).97The KMT was able to assign its candidates to “responsibility zones” so it could elect a maximum number of candidates in any given district where winners were elected based upon the most votes. That meant that if four candidates were to be elected from a given district and ten candidates ran, the four with the most votes would be elected. It was important to spread the vote among the KMT candidates rather than have the most popular garner the vast majority of votes which would allow other parties in. The main characteristic of this system is that it gives a major advantage to the party that is able to control its own party members and prevent them from taking votes from each other. Using careful election research and planning it was possible to dominate elections.
The KMT used these organizational and election techniques to great advantage for its first 40 years in Taiwan. It helped that until 1986 there was no organized opposition party and legalizing and developing a responsible opposition was a key to democratizing.
The turning point in Taiwan’s move to democracy came in 1972 when Chiang Ching-kuo became premier and began a Taiwanization process within the KMT and the government. It was the beginning of a major KMT reform that reduced their authoritarian style.98At the same time other than KMT members (dang wai 黨外) began to increase their seats in local and national bodies.99
Prior to 1972 the KMT based its policies on a threat perception that they were in danger of being invaded militarily from the Mainland. Whether looking at massed troops across the straits or listening to the Mainland rhetoric it was clear that it was a real threat. At the same time, an increasing number of individuals in Taiwan were beginning to believe that even though the Mainland threatened Taiwan, with support from the United States and with their own improved military, a successful invasion would not be possible. This was also the height of the chaotic Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China that made the Mainland appear even weaker and too focused on internal problems to be able to invade Taiwan.
Three leadership groups emerged in Taiwan to challenge the KMT monopoly on political power. The first, students and intellectuals, were concerned about the lack of movement toward democracy and wanted to change the political landscape in which Mainlanders controlled Taiwanese. In this case movement toward democracy was a means to realize a more equitable Taiwanese status. The second group included local, provincial and national politicians wanting to promote political reform but were not members of the KMT. The third group was a bit more complex and much less obvious. They were Taiwanese businessmen who had a sense of Taiwanese identity, but had to maintain a cooperative relationship with the KMT that completely controlled the business environment. There was much overlap in the groups since many students/intellectuals became politicians or businessmen.
During the first two decades of KMT rule in Taiwan the sons and daughters of both Mainlanders and Taiwanese traveled to the United States to obtain advanced academic degrees. Most studied engineering or the hard sciences rather than the social sciences mainly due to language ability. Over time, most Taiwanese returned to Taiwan and most Mainlanders remained in the United States. Many of those who returned went into business and were very successful so that in the later years they could laterally transfer into the government and begin to exercise more influence on political policies. To be fair, there were also a large number of Taiwan’s youth who bridged the Mainlander- Taiwanese gap and did not share the Mainlander-Taiwanese cultural difference. They grew up speaking fluent Taiwanese and often intermarried.
These groups produced many opposition activists but there was little cooperation or even coordination among them. The KMT was successful in keeping them isolated and unable to coalesce into an opposition party before the 1970s. Nonetheless, after 1972, they were able to use three methods to advance their ideas; publications, demonstrations and elections.100
Six factors then combined to advance the cause of democratization:
(1) an ideology that explicitly promoted democracy (the Three People’s Principles of Sun Yat-sen), (2) a strong leader at the top of the political structure (Chiang Ching-kuo), (3) publications like the Formosamagazine, (4) demonstrations highlighted by the 1979 Kaohsiung Incident (also known as the Formosa Incident),101 (5) the development of an opposition party and (6) elections.
None of the six could have succeeded without the others and none of them can be considered the single factor producing democracy in Taiwan. Each influenced the other. For example, Chiang Ching-kuo was influenced by the unrest and demands for political reform as manifested in demonstrations and the demonstrations were planned as a result of decisions made by Chiang Ching-kuo.
Ultimately the key to the reform was the development of a responsible opposition party that could challenge the KMT within the rules set out by the Constitution.
The initial reform agenda of opposition groups, while not well organized, did agree on two key issues:
(1) the need for Taiwan self determination and (2) the need to check the power of the KMT.102
These two issues provided the intellectual glue to bring together the disparate opposition groups and cause a reform of the political system. While there were many issues used by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), these were the central two. The DPP also took advantage of a couple of incidents to attack corruption within and abuse of power by the KMT.103
At first the issue of Taiwan independence was very emotionally appealing to the Taiwanese. But as China escalated its threats, the citizens of Taiwan were confronted with a simple choice: declaring independence which would cause military invasion from the Mainland or status quo. It was in effect a choice, on this issue, between democracy and political stability. By the mid-1980s politicians began to understand that the majority of the populace chose stability over independence and that caused them to vote for the KMT. By the 1991 election citizens were convinced that the opposition party represented violence and potential chaos and the KMT represented economic progress, stability and security. The voters rejected Taiwan independence as an issue that could only lead to instability and economic losses. After Taiwan independence was neutralized as a key voter issue, the primary appeal of the DPP was in its effort to check and balance the power of the KMT through democratization.
The opposition groups had options for achieving their goals and groups that promoted each option. They could use force and violence as advocated by the overseas group known as the Taiwan Independence Movement (TIM) or they could focus on or advocate democracy for instrumental reasons. That is to say, they could promote democracy knowing that they were in the majority and would ultimately win power if they could make Taiwan into a real democracy. Even though the TIM tried violence a few times it ultimately gave in to the more peaceful route of the mainstream DPP leadership.104
The first major task for the opposition was to become a legitimate political party. Until the 1980s the KMT was able to prevent all challenges to its rule through the use of martial law, control of the media and police organizations, effective election strategies, co-opting local leaders, and control of the resources that determined if an elected official would be successful in office.105The initial call for independents to coalesce and form an opposition party came in a magazine called the Free China Fortnightly. It was edited by Lei Chen who was arrested on September 9, 1960, right after the articles were published, and spent the next 10 years in jail. But the political presence of the independents who were not KMT members gradually increased in the 1960s. In fact in 1964 they won the mayorships in two major cities: Tainan and Keelung.
When Taiwan’s representatives were expelled from the UN in 1971 and lost American diplomatic recognition in 1979, the KMT lost more legitimacy since they couldn’t count on total international support. As a result there were increasing challenges to their authority throughout the 1970s. KMT authority was further challenged in 1973 when the Middle East oil embargo had a profound effect on Taiwan’s economy and the KMT was unable to cope well.
Even though the 1970s represented a time of major political reform within the KMT by bringing in more Taiwanese at all levels, independents were still able to identify themselves as the party of the Taiwanese people and to develop messages that challenged the KMT. As long as they followed what might be called Taiwan's three cardinal principles (adherence to the 1947 Constitution as amended by the Temporary Provisions and Martial Law, rejection of Communism, and rejection of Taiwan independence), independents were able to advance toward their political goals. Generally they capitalized on three issues:
(1) KMT failure to follow the Constitution and democratize, (2) self determination (an acceptable euphemism for Taiwan independence), and (3) KMT failure to solve daily problems like pollution, crime and traffic.
An important step in the democratization process occurred on May 14, 1980 when the election law was amended and promulgated. This law established the rules within which candidates could campaign as well as rules for the entire election process such as vote counting and reporting. The previous law had severely limited the candidate’s ability to compete by placing limits on campaign activities and speeches.106The old law clearly favored incumbents. The new election law was necessary for the independents, and later the opposition candidates, to compete. Once the opposition parties began to come together they still encountered many obstacles some of which were unique to Taiwan.107The most important task was to cause Martial Law and the Temporary Provisions to be lifted so the KMT could no longer use security as its reason for not following the 1947 Constitution. The Temporary Provisions, by nullifying Articles 39, 43 and 57, section 2 of the Constitution, effectively gave the President complete power and that power was used to oppress Taiwan’s citizens. The KMT was accused of hypocrisy for claiming to be democratic and advocating the ideology of democracy, yet oppressing the citizens in the name of security. The “temporary” state of affairs seemed to get old and outdated after nearly fifty years of no invasion from the Mainland and no invasion in sight.
Each local, provincial and national election during the 1970s and 1980s improved the position of independents. 108The 1977 elections were a high point because they were able to “demonstrate the popularity of their cause” and gain a major foothold in the political system.109 More important it was the first time the KMT tolerated the views and opinions of opposition politicians.”110But they were still not organized into a single opposition party. The diffuse and independent dangwai candidates took the first step in October 1983 by agreeing on common campaign themes. The next major step came in March 1984 when they formed the dangwai Public Policy Association (later called the Association for Public Policy Research).111
During 1984 and 1985 the KMT met with more problems when the murder of Henry Liu (Chiang Nan) came to light and Taiwan’s economy worsened. On September 29, 1985 several dangwai leaders met and decided to form the Democratic Progressive Party. At that point, Chiang Ching-kuo could have used the usual repressive measures to stop the movement using martial law, but he did not. In fact, on October 7, he announced that he would end martial law, but that a national security law had to be approved first.
The DPP competed as a party for the first time in the National Assembly and Legislative Yuan elections of 1986. The DPP made gains at the expense of the KMT in both. The DPP was still constrained by the Temporary Provisions and Martial Law so they continued to press for democratic reform and the lifting of martial law.
The KMT could not completely abandon their previous stance that made national security the highest priority. This was an important step in the democratization process. Perhaps the most difficult problem for the senior KMT leaders was the separation, in their minds, of the communist threat and the Taiwanese desire for a stronger voice. Many of the KMT leaders were convinced that any activity that challenged the role of the KMT would weaken or divide the nation and would indirectly help the communists. They did not differentiate between challenges to KMT rule. Even though many of the dangwai and later DPP leaders were as anti-communist as the KMT, that idea was just not comprehensible. This was the point at which the pressure from the top, Chiang Ching-kuo, was a sine qua non for advancement of democracy. As mentioned, he could have clamped down on all who opposed the KMT.112His propaganda machine controlled the media, was very effective and could have painted all dissenters as traitors even though it was not true.
Chiang Ching-kuo, however, elected to debate the substance of a national security law and find a compromise that ultimately allowed dissenters to exist and not be bundled with or labeled as communist sympathizers. He had to find a balance between political reform and national security. The new security law (National Security Provisional Law under the Period of Extreme Emergency) was a compromise. It allowed much more freedom for opposition members and candidates to publish and demonstrate, but it held to the three principles of not violating the Constitution, not advocating communism, and not advocating the division of national territory (independence for Taiwan).113A major result of the new law was for cases that had previously been judged or were being considered under martial law would be transferred to civilian courts or prosecutors. This also resulted in the eventual demise of the Taiwan Garrison Command.
Before the new security law bill was passed it was vigorously debated in the legislature, generally being opposed by the DPP because it was still not liberal enough. The debates provoked violent riots in the streets that were the worse since the Kaohsiung Riots in 1979.
The new National Security Law was passed on June 23, 1987 and martial law was lifted on July 15. In January 1988 the government ban on new newspaper licenses was lifted. These steps represented major progress in the democratization process. It allowed the opposition party to be legally organized and be able to compete more effectively against the KMT in the electoral arena.
Chiang Ching-kuo died in January 1988 and Lee Deng-hui was sworn in as President. Lee was later elected as President in 1990. For the first time a native-born Taiwanese was President and in July 1990 he was confirmed as head of the KMT after some debate. But there were still two more major obstacles that prevented Taiwan from becoming a real democracy:
(1) the aging members of the National Assembly, mostly elected in 1947, that elected the President and (2) the need for the citizens in Taiwan to directly elect the President.
Although there had been some provisional elections for the National Assembly and some new blood had been infused, the organization was still controlled by the old KMT Mainlanders. It was necessary to force them to retire, to elect members that represented the citizens of Taiwan and to terminate the claim of representing the entire mainland.
The pressures came to a head just before the 1990 presidential election by the National Assembly. The DPP and some liberal members of the KMT were calling for the old KMT national assemblymen to step down. On March 18, 1990, thirty thousand students from all over Taiwan, perhaps taking a cue from the Tiananmen students, demonstrated at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial. It was billed as a boycott of the National Assembly.114
President Lee Teng-hui responded with a promise to convene a major conference of citizens from all walks of life to find a consensus about Taiwan’s future. On March 21, the National Assembly elected Lee as the President and on March 22 the students began to disperse. The crisis was solved, but from an opposition perspective the task of retiring the senior representatives in the National Assembly and the Legislature still confronted them. The first step to achieve these goals was to terminate the Temporary Provisions. The DPP first had to decide whether President Lee’s National Affairs Conference was a KMT ruse, whether or not they should boycott the conference or whether they could make use of the conference to promote their ideas. They joined the conference on June 28th, which lasted from 28th to July 4th.115
One hundred and fifty of Taiwan’s political, economic and intellectual elites were invited to the conference. One hundred thirty-six attended. The debate in the five participant groups was lively and serious. Conference organizers had conducted numerous surveys within Taiwan and in the overseas Chinese communities leading up to the Conference so general citizen attitudes were on record. Contrary to the expectations of many, a number of issues found consensus. Even the DPP was satisfied with the results of the conference.116 The principal areas of consensus were:
1. the senior representatives must retire 2. elections would be held to replace them 3. the Constitution would be amended 4. a formal structure would be established for contact between ruling party and opposition
The National Affairs Conference represented a major turning point at which the key political actors expressed a willingness to play by the rules. It was the real beginning for the development of a “loyal opposition.”
Just prior to the National Affairs Conference, the Council of Grand Justices, on June 21, 1990, decreed that all the aged representatives in the central government (National Assembly, Control Yuan and Legislative Yuan) would have to step down by December 31, 1991.117The desirability of this decree was reinforced by the results of the conference.
By now, President Lee had gained sufficient political reform momentum so that in April 1991 he could cause the National Assembly to meet and amend the Constitution. That meeting was marred by physical fights on the floor, but in the end it agreed to terminate the Temporary Provisions which effectively and formally ended the state of war with the Mainland within Taiwan.118The assembly also approved ten new articles to the Constitution, mostly concerning the process for nominating and electing representatives to the National Assembly, Control Yuan and Legislative Yuan.119
As might be expected, after the lifting of martial law and the abolishment of the Temporary Provisions, the tree of democracy began to plant roots. It also began to develop branches. Many new parties were formed, but political power devolved to the two major parties: DPP and KMT. Factions within the DPP and the KMT became more vocal. The entire political spectrum was represented. In this case at the far left were the radical factions of the DPP whose primary issue was Taiwan independence. Within the KMT “liberal” and “conservative” factions developed. The liberal side focused more on making Taiwan stronger and more independent while the conservative side was more interested in the eventual unification of China and the maintenance of KMT power. Many of the DPP members who were elected had been in jail or exile until martial law was lifted so they had a special perspective on the need for human rights.
Most Taiwanese voters rejected both ends of the spectrum and chose a middle road that did not include radical political change or rapid movement toward independence. As a result the voters supported the KMT with 78 percent of the vote at the national level and 79 percent at the district level. The DPP still did not have the 25 percent support it needed to influence the revision of the Constitution. Most remarkable was that over 68 percent of eligible voters went to the polls.120The results of the election were not totally based on the citizens’ support of policies. Much had to do with the KMT’s superior organization skills, ability to manage the single vote multi-member district system, continued control of important media, and even vote-buying. On the other hand, there was clear support for continuing the economic miracle that had been managed by the KMT and for continuing the status quo with China. In most citizens’ minds status quo meant stability and both rapid unification and Taiwan independence represented instability and potential upset of the good life.
By 1992 Taiwan was considered a democracy, but still in its infancy. Elections were reasonably competitive, the media was relatively open, the opposition was playing by the rules and political change was happening within the established constitution. The next two major events, the elections of 1992 and 1996 can be considered an expansionary or maturation phase of democratization.121Besides the elections, much debate and constitutional revision took place to advance democracy. Although the debate was wild and even physical at times it generally stayed within the rules of opposition versus dominant parties.
The December 19, 1992, Legislative Yuan election has been described as “the first full- fledged competitive national-level election in Chinese history.”122The KMT maintained a majority in this election, but just barely with only 53 percent of the vote.123It was considered a major loss for the KMT, but a major victory for democracy. It signaled the end of the democratic transition period and the beginning of the consolidation of democracy in Taiwan. The DPP had arrived as a legitimate opposition party and with 31 percent of the vote it now had the ability to initiate and seriously influence Legislative Yuan voting even on such issues as the restructuring of government political institutions. Even more important, this was a “founding” election or an election that for the first time the parliament (Legislative Yuan) of the government was elected solely by the people in Taiwan.124
One of the key issues leading up to the 1996 presidential election that caused serious debate within and between the political parties was the method for electing the President. The main choices were indirect, where the parliament as representatives of the people elects the President, or direct in which each citizen has a vote. Many forms, from the French Fifth Republic to the American presidential types were considered.125After much acrimonious debate the direct election was chosen and on March 23, 1996 seventy-four percent of the registered voters went to the polls and elected President Lee Tenghui with fifty-four percent of the vote.
The 1996 presidential election was influenced strongly by two separate activities. The PLA conducted amphibious exercises in Fujian province opposite Taiwan and even practiced launching missiles close to Taiwan’s ports.126PLA leaders wanted to make the point that they were serious that if Taiwan independence advocates were to prevail and if they would actually declare independence, the PLA would invade Taiwan. In the missile exercises they demonstrated that they could cause plenty of damage.
At the same time some of the DPP candidates were openly advocating Taiwan independence. The voters chose the KMT as the party most likely to ensure continued stability and economic prosperity. During this campaign President Lee had been explicit in stating that “sovereignty belongs to the people.” Democracy was indeed being consolidated.
The next consolidation milestone occurred in the presidential election on March 18, 2000 when President Chen Shui-bian, leader of the opposition DPP was elected.127This “party alternation” represented a major advance for democracy in Taiwan.128Once the presidency alternated between the parties, Taiwan could be considered a full democracy.
Chen only received a plurality, 39% of the vote, compared to 37% for Soong Chu-yu (James Soong), popular former provincial governor who ran as an independent and who had just defected from the KMT, and 23% for Lien Chan, the KMT candidate. The turnout for the vote was a very high 83% of eligible voters.
Chen was elected primarily because the incumbent KMT had been split by the decision of Soong Chu-yu to run as an independent. At the same time the DPP had become better organized and was acting as a loyal opposition. The factions within the DPP had agreed that it was more important to achieve power through the electoral process than through street demonstrations as advocated by some of the factions.129They were able to convince the voters and observers that they were responsible, would play by the political rules, would champion “Taiwan interests,” and that they would not do anything precipitous in cross strait relations.130
The vote was good enough to get Chen elected president, and it was a direct election by the citizens of Taiwan, but it did not give him the complete mandate to push through his policies. The legislature was still controlled by the KMT so in Chen’s first year in office he could not accomplish very much. The Chen victory did give solid legitimacy to the DPP which translated into an increase in DPP membership from about 200,000 in March to about 400,000 in December.131That set the stage for the legislative elections to take place in December, 2001.
The legislative elections were another major step forward for the DPP and for Taiwan’s democratization. For the first time the opposition party became the largest party in the legislature with 87 seats. The KMT was reduced to 68 and the People’s First Party (PFP), formerly the New Party, gained to 46 seats. That meant that successful policies had to be the result of negotiation and compromise. No single party could dominate the policy-making process.132
The DPP victories in 2000 and 2001 was perceived as a major setback by Chinese leaders who believed they would be able to negotiate unification better with the mainlander-heavy KMT.
In addition to the expansion of an active electoral system and the evolution of an opposition party, Taiwan’s democracy also required a restructuring of its key institutions to insure appropriate checks and balances. The reorganization of the government after Chiang Kai-shek settled in Taiwan in 1949 was strongly influenced by the Leninist heritage.133
The most important characteristic of the new government at that time was total party control. All government and military officials were required to be KMT members. All government and military organizations at all levels were required to have party cells that had a separate and independent chain of command to the highest party levels. All appointments at all levels were determined by theparty and included criteria for loyalty and understanding of Sun Yat-sen’s Three People’s Principles. Party discipline was critical.
This highly centralized structure meant the thirty or so carefully selected members of the KMT Central Standing Committee could in fact control the entire governmental process and the military. When Chiang Kai-shek was alive it was a near totalitarian system with a single decision-maker, although on occasion he did listen to some advisors. In fact, it was not until after his son, Chiang Ching-kuo, died and Lee Teng-hui became President and head of the Party that the senior levels began to divide and develop a real pluralism. While the two Chiang’s were able to monopolize decision-making, Lee had to contend with real factions within the KMT. Ultimately one faction broke from the KMT and formed the New Party (1993).
Two forms of checks and balances emerged. The first was within the government and the second was the development of a watchdog media.
The impetus for creating a checks and balances system though came from the Democratic Progressive Party when, in December 1992, it finally gained a voice in domestic politics. The DPP used a three pronged strategy to promote checks and balances:
(1) challenge the parallel KMT party cell system in the government and the military, (2) advocate the appointment of DPP approved personnel to key positions in the government and the military, and (3) “Taiwanize” and separate the powers of the legislative and judicial organs of government.
The first part of their strategy was accomplished primarily from pressure that resulted from press exposure and hearings in the Legislative Yuan. One of the results of this strategy was to cause a separation of party-government and party-military. This was perhaps the most important step in the progression toward a checks and balances system from a Leninist system. It also applies to China.
The second effort was to place pressure on the government personnel system to make sure other than KMT officials were appointed to key positions or at least deputy positions. This effort is still ongoing.
The third part of the strategy was a little more complicated. First, they had to overcome the notion that members of the Legislative Yuan, Control Yuan and National Assembly were in place to prepare for governing all of China. The old KMT members who had been voted into the key government positions in 1947 had to be removed. Constant pressure from the DPP, the liberal wing of the KMT and intellectuals, after much struggle, caused the Council of Grand Justices (Supreme Court) to rule that they must retire by December 31, 1991 and that members of those organizations must be elected from the constituencies within Taiwan.134Once the old KMT members stepped down the Taiwanization of the organizations began in earnest.
Until the Temporary Provisions were lifted the KMT absolutely controlled the press, TV and radio. Any attempt to publish a new newspaper or open a new TV or radio station met with arrest and closure. It was just not tolerated in the name of national security. Once martial law and the Temporary Provisions were lifted, new journals, newspapers, radio and TV stations were allowed to open. Some were sponsored by the DPP and found immediate audiences among the Taiwanese. Over time they began to serve as a serious check on government policies with solid investigative reporting.
Taiwan must now be considered a full-fledged democracy, but like every other democracy it is not perfect. It will mature even more with an alternation of the parties in power. The political system now guarantees individual liberty and human rights. According to our definition of popular sovereignty based on free and open elections and a political system with checks and balances (a free media as well as governmental institutions that check the power of each other) all the requirements for being labeled a democracy have been met.
Political reform to transfer sovereignty from a relatively small group of elites, the Communist Party, to the people of China has not yet occurred. There have, however, been a number of activities that suggest movement toward democracy, albeit a different form of democracy.135The basis for political reform has been the concern of the people with a concentration of political power in the hands of the few who have at times abused that power. Several efforts to curtail that power have occurred and failed. The most recent was the Tiananmen Incident.
It is important to remember that the impetus for movement toward democracy in China is to limit government power and not necessarily improve the status of the individual. This forces us, as discussed above, to pay close attention to a democracy that focuses on the group rather than the individual. What does that mean in terms of individual liberty? As we shall see, it ultimately is a matter of emphasis and while the rights of the individual may lag it doesn’t necessarily mean that some form of democracy is not possible.
It is not predetermined that China is moving toward democracy. While there is a great deal of rhetoric that seems to be an official policy to move in the direction of democracy, actual movement toward a western form of democracy is being questioned by many in the West.136We can see a number of fits and starts that would indicate there are pressures within the polity to move in that direction, but like Taiwan, the situation is unique. The overt impetus for democratization in China comes almost exclusively from students and intellectuals although some indicators of democratic conditions can be seen evolving at the grassroots voting levels. At that level, like Taiwan, there has been a development of voting habits and expectations through local elections. Like Taiwan, the Leninist organizational doctrine makes most national leaders believe local elections can be manipulated and controlled, but in China the participation habits, also similar to Taiwan in the 1950s and 1960s, may have had the unintended consequences of laying a groundwork for real democratic elections and expectations. A decisive factor in Taiwan was the development of opposition parties. As of now, there are no indications of such an evolution in China.137
There is almost no sign of liberal thought at the top of the political system in the Communist Party even though it appears to be written into the Constitution. In this section we will examine the constitutional basis for democracy and then describe some of the historical times when democratic ideas were advanced.
Article 1: "The People's Republic of China is a socialist state under the people's democratic dictatorship led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants."
Article 2: "All power in the People's Republic of China belongs to the people."
Article 3: "The National People's Congress and the local people's congresses at various levels are constituted through democratic elections."
These articles make it appear as though the ideal or goal of the PRC ideology is a democratic system. But in this case before we place China on the democracy side of the political spectrum we must first examine the actual process to see if there is any conflict with democratic ideals and political practices.
We can understand why there are problems just from a more detailed reading of the Constitution. The most important clue is in Article 3 which states: "The state organs of the People's Republic of China apply the principal of Democratic Centralism." Democratic Centralism, described above, is a Leninist ideological or party organizational principal which has been transferred to government organization. It is not a routine or rational administrative principal and it is definitely not democratic.
Can these two words have such a meaning as to negate all the democratic words of the Constitution? Yes, they can. Let's take a close look at the meaning of Democratic Centralism.
We should first note, however, that throughout the Constitution, except in the historical preamble, the Communist Party is not mentioned. It is that missing element that is the key to understanding how the political system is controlled and the degree of democracy that exists.
This all means that the Chinese government, when using these organizational and control techniques, is close to the authoritarian end of the political spectrum. When Mao was alive it was pure... a one man dictator making all the key decisions. There are many who feel that the same was true when Deng Xiaoping was making all the key decisions. But even under Deng Xiaoping decision- making became increasingly collegial and consensual. More and more leaders have had an influence on political decision-making. At first it was just the Standing Committee of the Politburo. Then the Politburo began to have more input. It is clear that within the Communist Party secret and spirited debate takes place and factions develop. But once decisions are made, much like Taiwan in the early years, the debate ends. Now increasingly even the National People’s Congress vigorously debates issues and can influence decisions to a certain degree. But there is still no challenge to the preeminent role of the Communist Party. There is no equivalent to Taiwan’s “outside the party” or dangwai groups that challenged KMT rule.
The two most important indicators of democratization are that the CCP has allowed some forms of local election at the grassroots level and have allowed for an increasing plurality of opinions within the Communist Party at the higher levels. The Communist Party, like the KMT did, also goes out of its way to include citizens from all segments of the society. Although there are other political parties in China, none of them are serious opposition parties with a voice. China’s system is clearly an elitist and authoritarian system and has not evolved to the point of permitting an outside party or even a social force to emerge. An example of control is in the treatment of the Falun Gong sect which showed some potential of becoming a social and political force.138The Party has, in cycles, allowed more open debate and increasingly competitive elections, but if citizens go too far in challenging the role of the Communist Party they immediately stop the movement.
In fact, between 1978 and 1989 six cycles can be observed in which the government relaxes control (fang – 放) and tightens control (shou - 收).139In each case the CCP begins by discussing political reform as it loosens control. The leadership was divided into liberals led by Zhao Ziyang and conservatives led by Li Peng. Both groups were interested in national political and economic reforms, but they differed in pace and priorities. The liberals, supported by younger technocrats, wanted more rapid economic reforms accompanied by a loosening of political controls. The conservatives, mostly supported by the gerontocrats, favored a more controlled reform process that gave priority to stability. They did not believe the “people” could be trusted without the close supervision of the Party. There was a strong argument for stability since they had just come out of the Cultural Revolution which was the most tumultuous period in Chinese history and nobody wanted to return to such conditions. On the other hand as economic modernization began to be successful, the pull of more rapid modernization was apparent.
In the first cycle (1978-1979) the government, supported by Deng Xiaoping’s “seek truth from facts” slogan, relaxed its policies to the point that young people began to post critiques (big character posters called dazibao – 大字报) on a city wall in Beijing.140Most were young workers and unemployed students who had graduated from middle school, but were not yet university students. At first, Deng praised the critiques, but eventually they criticized Mao and advocated study of American democracy with an emphasis on human rights.141It was a clear appeal to limit the power of the government with some form of checks and balances.
In time the youths crossed the line. They wrote a letter to American President Jimmy Carter praising a recent speech on universal human rights and asked him to support human rights efforts in China. They also criticized Deng Xiaoping by name. At the same time underground journals and handbills began to appear and some even dared to criticize the Communist Party.142Finally they used tactics of demonstration and violence to the point that the conservative members of the CCP were able to say that the movement had to be stopped in order to maintain stability. On March 29, 1979 Deng was forced to promulgate what became known as the Four Cardinal Principals to establish the limits of allowed criticism.143This marked the beginning of a period of tightening.
The back and forth movement of political reform and tightening was a key characteristic of the 1980s when demands to democratize came in many forms and many were intermixed with demands for economic reform. The next major threat to the system occurred in 1986 when a Chinese scholar (astrophysicist), Fang Lizhi, gave a series of speeches at different Chinese universities. He pointed out specific instances of CCP and government corruption and power abuse and “urged students to challenge authority and to demand democratic rights and freedoms, rather than waiting for them to be bestowed from above.”144He went on to point out that Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought was a failure for China… a direct challenge to one of the Four Cardinal Principles.
Students were inspired to protest and demonstrate. They denounced the obvious corruption and bureaucracy and demanded “liberty and democracy.” Demonstrations occurred from 150 colleges and universities in 17 cities and the numbers were as high as 30,000 in single demonstrations in Beijing and Shanghai.145The government’s response came first in the controlled media. Students were advised to be patient and moderate their activities. On December 30, 1986 Deng Xiaoping personally joined the debate and blamed local leaders for not being strict enough with students. He initiated what became known as the “anti-bourgeois liberalization” campaign. This campaign was fairly constrained and targeted mostly the corrupt party cadres the students were complaining about.146There was an explicit attempt to not allow the campaign to spill over into the economic realm and disrupt the modernization process.
The result of the 1986/1987 demonstrations was that conservatives prevailed again. Discussions that could lead to democratic reform were stopped. Fang Lizhi, Liu Binyan and Wang Ruowang, the intellectual leaders, were thrown out of the Communist Party on January 9, 1987 and on January 16th, Hu Yaobang, the CCP General Secretary who had allowed the movement to develop was fired.147Another period of tightening began.
The last of the cycles in the 1980s was culminated in the Tiananmen crackdown of June 4, 1989. In this case the students and intellectuals had learned some lessons from the previous efforts. It was during another time of loosening and another example of students going too far. This was the incident that came closest to a breakout of democracy. It is important to understand this episode and the best way to approach it is to examine student demands in detail.
When we scrutinize the 1989 student demands we find that while the movement had a number of democratic elements in it, democracy was not the main thrust as most Western journalists have presented it. The first focus of the movement was a search for justice more than democracy. It was the abuse of power and corruption by Communist cadres that alienated the students most. Every student knew from personal experience about a child or friend of a Communist party cadre who had been given preferential treatment to get into a better school or get a better job.
The 1989 student movement was actually well planned and orchestrated. The demands they developed were initially right on the mark. They were pushing in the right direction and were avoiding direct attack on the Four Cardinal Principles. There were some overzealous students who did put up banners stating "Down with the CCP!" But those were not the mainstream part of the overall movement.
At first the students made a major point of not attacking the leadership of the Communist Party or the Socialist system. They just wanted political reform; to "evolve the system" or "adapt the Marxist-Leninist Mao system to Chinese conditions"...which could mean anything. They also eschewed the use of violence from the outset.
The first set of demands from the students came on April 18th as part of the mourning for Hu Yaobang who had died on April 15th. He had been the instigator of political liberalization. He had also been deposed because of his relationship with students and intellectuals; because he allowed them to think.148
The first demand is a clear concern for justice. Most perceptions of justice are to overturn the judgments of officials who placed a pejorative label on someone. Most of the concern was for those who had been wrongly attacked and punished during the Cultural Revolution. Perhaps hundreds of thousands were punished severely just because someone didn't like them… not because they fit a category of bad element set up by the party. An accusation was sufficient to cause punishment so many people took advantage of the atmosphere to conduct revenge against others they had problems with. It was just a matter of putting the grievance in Cultural Revolution terms. Petty human jealousies cause great suffering. Your browser does not support inline frames or is currently configured not to display inline frames.
The case of Hu Yaobang, however, goes a bit further in that he was in fact trying to change the political system to a more pluralistic one. The basic feeling of the students was that he should be considered a patriot in trying to find a better way to govern China. The feeling of the conservatives however is that he challenged the Four Cardinal Principles so should be disgraced.
The second demand had to do with corruption. Although historically in China corruption was described as a capitalist phenomenon, there is no doubt that some forms of corruption were precipitated by the changes in the PRC economic system to a more liberal one. But the demands of the students were not aimed so much at the system as they were toward individuals within the system. They were particularly concerned about all the instances of not being able to get into a certain school or get a particular job without bribing an official. Anywhere they saw the abuse of one's official position for personal gain, and it was pervasive, they were upset. This demand, then, was not really a demand for democracy.
The third demand was another call for justice since many intellectuals had been branded a bad element just for disagreeing with the current party line. There is an element of democracy here in a call for the freedom of intellectuals to speak out against social injustice. This is the first hint we have of who was behind the articulation of demands. Clearly the students were receiving advice from intellectuals. It made sense because they were all working to become intellectuals. Why work to become an intellectual if there were no benefit in economic or prestige terms?
The fourth demand focused on the consequences of these various campaigns. Labeling people as bad elements had a very severe impact on the individuals who were labeled. They were excluded from certain jobs and were generally ostracized by many of their neighbors who did not want to be contaminated by "association." This was another call for justice.
The fifth demand began to get to the heart of the desire for democracy. During the period of increasing liberalization there were times when the press could criticize the government without fear... at the time. The only restriction for a long period was that they could not directly challenge the Four Cardinal Principles. In the wake of the Tiananmen Incident even indirect challenges became unacceptable and that was a matter of subjective interpretation.
The sixth demand is not the same as the earlier ones about intellectuals. This one goes to the problem of not paying intellectuals enough. While the system, for a time, paid lip service to the fact that intellectuals were important to society's development, they did not back it up. They paid intellectuals less than taxi drivers or street vendors. Some teachers in Shanghai, for example, were forced to sell ice cream to their students just to make ends meet. This too is not a political problem to be solved by democracy. Even in America many wonder why school teachers make so much less than street cleaners or baseball players.
The seventh demand was the second of the seven demands that really has a tinge of seeking democracy in China. They were actually more specific in this demand in asking for a suspension of the regulations promulgated by the Beijing Municipal People's Congress on demonstrations. Remember that if Hu Yaobang had not died they could not have held a demonstration. The students used that occasion to demonstrate. We should also remember that this right is listed in the Communist Constitution so it is not a clear demand for western style democracy.
The government response to the initial demands was the publication of an article in the People's Daily on April 26th that angered the students by its patronizing tone and the failure to recognize that the student movement was broader than just a band of malcontents or "reactionary counter-revolutionaries" as the government put it. They also resented the statement that their strings were being pulled by foreign forces.
The student response was measured and they proceeded with additional demands that were more tactical in nature to assure that their voices were heard.
On May 2nd a second set of twelve demands were presented by the university students to the National People's Congress Standing Committee to try to maneuver the leaders into a position where they would have to respond to more general demands. These demands showed the students were well coached and were aware of the leaders’ tactics to manipulate the students.
The first demand (see inset box) was a particularly difficult demand for the old Chinese leaders to accept... but it shouldn't have been. The leaders should have thought in terms of the "mass line" and told the students they were equal. But there are also cultural problems with this. There is still a feeling of respect for age.
Perhaps more important, this was a first indication that the students were pushing their luck. They believed this demand was what democracy was all about, but it was in fact a challenge to elite rule and the patronizing principle of democratic centralism.
The reason for the second and third demands was that when the government originally agreed to meet with students on April 29 and 30, they met only with officially sanctioned student representatives from different universities and institutes. These were students who were already acceptable as "good communist students" and they were not likely to present the total package of student demands. Representatives of the unsanctioned student organizations, like the "All-China Students Federation" and the Beijing Student's Federation" were not allowed to participate.
These demands, and a number of other activities that were occurring, such as the use of posters and student boycott of classes, resembled activities that had occurred during the cultural revolution and that had gotten out of control. It was also a challenge to the many party- controlled student organizations. Party control of all organizations, especially mass and student organizations, was a fundamental Leninist organizational principle.
The fourth demand shows an understanding of the system. It also indicates that the students were getting some good advice. They knew they would have to go to the top if they had any chance of getting any of their demands met. Again, this demand is a matter of tactics and has nothing to do with a demand for democracy.
The fifth demand shows the Chinese cultural trait of wanting to play out a debate to an audience and not just negotiate with an opponent. The students had received a lot of support from workers already and they wanted to have that support extended to the meetings. But again it is a matter of political tactics, not a demand for democracy.
The next demand for time indicated a concern over tactics and an understanding of the communist style of lecturing to students. It also shows someone is providing them with good advice. The other demands were all over tactics, not democracy.
The students had learned about the power of the press already in this movement; particularly the foreign press. The students were again playing a tactical game and they became good at it. They did not, however, understand the power of the domestic press as manipulated by the party. The April 26theditorial published by the leaders in the People’s Daily described the student leaders as being involved in a conspiracy and that they were “a small number of people with ulterior motives.” The students knew differently. They believed their motives were pure and that they were demonstrating for a better China. The editorial just made them mad. But they should have read it carefully and noted the resolve of the old party leaders.
The students began to feel strength from a couple of places which allowed them to become bolder. Zhao Ziyang recognized them and he, after all was the Secretary General of the Communist Party. They also learned the power of the foreign press and technology to communicate to the outside world. As early as 1986 it was possible to reduce the student demands to three broad ones: Pluralism, Democracy and Toumingdu (透明度)(Open Government). Only one, in the eyes of the conservatives, really challenged their position: the first one. Democracy is already written into their constitution and they could accept their own definition of democracy. Toumingdu challenged individuals and the secrecy of deliberations, but it was not really saying that the Communist Party was wrong in policy or system.
In summary, the main issue for the Communist Party was whether or not to reform politically. The conservative faction within the leadership decided that political reform would have to wait and that the emphasis should be on economic modernization. They did not want to fall like the communist parties of Eastern Europe and Russia. The conservative leaders were able to articulate a clear option for the people: political reform with chaos or political status quo with stability. Most of the populace, who still remembered the chaos of earlier political movements, especially the Cultural Revolution, was comfortable with a government crackdown that would insure stability.
On May 4 approximately one million students on 20 campuses throughout China participated in demonstrations.149On May 19-20 from one to two million citizens of Beijing blocked streets to try to stop the PLA from entering the city. By May 21 there were over one million citizens involved in the demonstrations in Tiananmen alone. By the end of May nearly three million “students and staff from 500 Chinese institutions of higher education in eighty cities joined demonstrations in support of the Beijing students.150Many industrial workers, journalists, and even government workers sympathized with and joined the students in demonstrating at Tiananmen.151“According to an internal party audit conducted shortly after the crackdown of June 3-4, more than ten thousand cadres from central party and government departments had taken part in the May demonstrations in Beijing. Nationwide, the figures were even more disturbing, as Communist Party sources subsequently confirmed that at least 800,000 CCP members (out of a total of more than 45 million) participated in the pro-democracy rallies in 123 cities during the Beijing Spring of 1989.”152On May 21, right after martial law was declared 100 PLA officers, led by two old marshals and seven general officers petitioned Deng Xiaoping to not use the PLA against the students.153Some of them were believed to have children or grandchildren in the square. This anarchic rebellion, combined with a split within Communist Party ranks, had all the earmarks of another Cultural Revolution and nobody in China wanted a return to those days.
This all occurred as the communist countries in Eastern Europe were falling, to include the Soviet Union, and that generated near panic in the minds of the senior Communist leaders. They did not want to go the way of the Soviet Union and it was clear from what they were seeing that they were close. When industrial workers and government office workers joined the students it looked as if they were going to lose power. They had to act and act decisively to survive. In their minds it was not just to survive but to assure the continued march toward the sacred mission they had sacrificed their lives for over the past fifty years.
The leaders had to delay their suppression of the demonstrators because of a state visit by Russia's Mikhail Gorbachev between 15 and 18 May. This actually proved to be a bonus for the students because there was so much international media coverage of their efforts. But once Gorbachev was gone, the leaders were ready to pounce. Even then they tried to negotiate with the protesters and delayed a couple of weeks before they cracked down.
Premier Li Peng declared martial law on May 20. By then seven or eight People’s Liberation Army (PLA) divisions totaling 100,000 troops with tanks and armored personnel carriers, drawn from separate military regions all around the country, were in Beijing and ready to enforce martial law.154On the eve of the crackdown, between “150,000 and 200,000 troops from at least twelve group armies, representing three greater military regions, had converged on Beijing and were now in position.”155The protesters were no match for the regular PLA.
Most of the casualties suffered were by the citizens who tried to block the PLA units from entering the city center and not so many were the students themselves. “Best available estimates (which remain inconclusive) place the total number of dead at between 1,000 and 2,600, including at least 36 students and several dozen soldiers and PAP (People’s Armed Police) personnel.”156
Because of the seriousness of the Tiananmen Incident the government tightening held throughout the 1990s. It was a traumatic experience and strengthened the hands of the conservatives. They were able to prevail again by presenting the choice of “stability or democracy” to the people. By the year 2000 they were able to reinforce their authority because they had enjoyed a great deal of economic success.
There are at least two schools of thought about the pro-democracy movement and the Tiananmen Incident.
First, there are those who would say that the students made a great mistake. Ironically, the only person's in the government moving things in the direction advocated by intellectuals and students were Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang. The students caused both of them to be purged. The student's actions in both cases, 1986 and 1989, had the appearance of a renewed Cultural Revolution and this played right into the hands of the old conservatives and allowed them to gain the upper hand and set China back several years in the political reform process. Communist Party leaders were able to rationalize their response in terms of anarchy versus stability and clearly most Chinese citizens wanted stability even if it meant less democracy.
Second, there are those who would say that the students made a great sacrifice and in the long run they will prevail. They have caused the true colors of the old conservatives to come out. As more and more people came to recognize those colors, the more likelihood that political reform could be accomplished.
The central question that emerges from the Tiananmen period is whether the students who participated can one day change the system from the top. It is clear that the combination of the Leninist organizational system and communist ideology is very effective against revolution from below. If there is to be democratization it will have to come from above. In the year 2020 many of the Tiananmen student demonstrators, who did not go into exile abroad, will be entering the Communist party at senior levels. By 2030 few of the senior party and government leaders will not have had the Tiananmen experience. It is highly likely that at that time at least some of them will be inclined to promote democratization in one form or another.
These pressures for democracy in the 1980s were the most visible efforts, but we should consider other developments and lack of developments. We will first consider grassroots elections and then various forms of checks and balances.
Grassroots elections in China in the 1980s and 1990s were at about the same stage of development as grassroots elections in Taiwan in the 1950s and 1960s. No opposition party was allowed to compete in these early periods and in both cases elections met with serious manipulation by party, factions and other influential local persons. It took nearly forty years for the breakout of legalizing an opposition party in Taiwan and in China there is still no indication of movement toward allowing an opposition party to develop. There have, however, been initial changes in the nomination process. No longer do all nominations come from the party. Now four types of nominations at the village level have been identified:
(1) "open sea" (海选), (2) group (联名推举票), (3) small group (小组提名) and (4) head of household (各户户主提名 ).
157At the village level some non-party individuals have competed in elections and won, but as in Taiwan, if they hope to become successful in their position they have to join the dominant party. The main reason is thatlocal levels are more dependent on higher-level government departments for critical resources like electricity and fuel. This is truer in industrial villages than in purely agricultural villages.158 While we may see the appearance of local open elections in China, we cannot make any judgments yet about the degree to which this is a step toward democratization.159Open elections at the village level began in villages in Guangxi Province in 1980/1981.160Experimenting with social or political ideas or activities, “demonstration projects”, in one carefully selected small area is a well-established pattern in China. If an experiment is successful it is expanded and in some cases becomes a model for the whole country.161 The initial experiment was motivated by a “decline in social order and a broader political crisis that was fast becoming apparent as family farming took hold and brigades and productions teams stopped functioning.”162Elections were induced by economic and crime issues, not by concerns about human rights or even about government power abuse at that time. It was a real concern to find some form of self-government at the grass-roots levels. This was reflected in a document, called “Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party” and promulgated in 1980, which announced: “that it was the Party’s aim to ‘gradually realize direct popular participation in the democratic process at the grassroots of political power and community life.’”163This is an important statement. In the minds of Communist leaders there is no conflict between a “democratic process at the grassroots of political power” and an authoritarian one- party system. Democracy was viewed, as Peng Zhen stated, to be “the right instrument for tightening the Party’s grip in areas where its dominance was still uncertain.” 164Democratic elections were viewed instrumentally as a means by which the Communist Party could obtain good feedback on local issues and with what they believed to be their superior organizational ability and understanding of what was best for the people, they could easily manipulate elections. Further, they could identify natural leaders and co-opt them into the Communist Party.
The elections were for three types of governing bodies: villagers’ committees, villagers’ representative assemblies, and villagers’ assemblies. The committees were the smallest and the assemblies were the largest.165The fact that “committees” are what are elected, instead of mayors, assistant mayors, etc., reinforces the group orientation of the intended “socialist democracy.” In any case, there is little allowance for the emergence of highly individualistic political leaders.
As might be expected the first major issue to result from these elections was the degree of autonomy that should be allowed. This problem is not different from that of nearly every level in the Chinese political system. The degree of autonomy allowed provinces by the national level, counties by the province level, townships by the county level, etc. have always been an issue. Even though China is often viewed as a monolithic authoritarian system, those who study the interaction between different levels make clear that power is fragmented and that a great deal of negotiating takes place between the levels. Nearly all levels can find some form of leverage that allows them to seriously negotiate the degree of compliance they will agree to with the next higher level.166
Even with the new laws on local level elections the degree to which there is movement toward democratization is open to question and it is still too early to judge. Nonetheless we can see from the reporting of the Carter Center that some of the behavior that could lead to demands for democracy has occurred.167The temporary observers of the Carter Center, however, saw only what happened during the actual voting process. They did not see, nor understand, what had happened to set up the elections, nor did they report on what happened after the elections. The nomination process was clearly manipulated with confidence by the Communist Party and most of those who were not Communist Party members and were elected were later co-opted into the Party.
It is difficult to compare local elections in Taiwan from the 1940s to the 1980s with those in China in the 1980s and 1990s. We can see three similarities though. Initially both were controlled by a single party under a Leninist organizational system, both were/are in a political environment of increasing political pluralism at the national or at least higher political levels (although China does not have the national identity problem of Taiwan), and both were/are in an economic environment of apolitical private competitive individuals or groups.168The latter may ultimately be the most important as individuals gain in wealth and influence and can pressure local leaders or, based on economic success, laterally transfer, even through election, to government posts.
Taiwan used similar techniques in the early period. The mass line was basically a system to indoctrinate people at the lowest levels to participate in politics. Both the communists and the nationalists, however, were confident that they could control the participation and cause people to be politically active in a way that only supported the dominant party.
These Leninist techniques generally did not give sufficient credit to the masses. They worked fairly well for naïve and uneducated people, but as citizens became increasingly educated and were more and more exposed to the outside world, the techniques were identified, in China and Taiwan, as crude efforts to manipulate the citizenry. There was little creativity in the techniques and the relatively low level of cadre education did not keep up with the understanding of the citizens. Part of the mass line technique was to make citizens believe they were actually having a voice in political decisions by manipulating consensus. The techniques backfired in Taiwan and are backfiring in China. The mass line techniques ultimately got out of control and developed the habit of active political participation by the citizens.
Another grass roots political activity that backfired in China was the social experiment during the Cultural Revolution to reach absolute egalitarianism. Whether it was equating “mental laborers” (college professors) with “manual laborers” (ditch diggers) or insisting that every soldier’s ideas had to be considered before a commander could make a decision in the military, a type of democratic habit of political participation was introduced.
This experiment with pure and certainly chaotic democracy could also contribute to an aversion to democracy and support a tight authoritarian rule. Just as the disorder of the Qin Dynasty served as a negative example for the rule of law for nearly 2,000 years, the Cultural Revolution could serve as a negative example for democracy. Citizens determined that they needed structure and discipline imposed from above to avoid behavior such as the excesses of the Cultural Revolution. It helps the Communist Party play to the mindset of the citizens when it presents the choice between democracy and stability or rationalizes the role of the Party as required to prevent instability.
The Chinese Communist Party, like the KMT prior to the lifting of the Temporary Provisions and martial law, has control over all government institutions and a monopoly over the mass media. The Party still has a Leninist parallel structure that gives the Communist Party effective control over all government and military organizations at all levels. Over time there have been some challenges to that power, but generally it is still effective. The same is true for the mass media. The Party, through the Ministry of Information, is able to maintain strict control. The challenges and the results of those challenges have been slightly different in China than they were in Taiwan.
The Chinese Communist Party has had no serious organized opposition. Other political parties are allowed to exist, but none of them have been allowed to challenge or compete with the CCP. The evolution of some forms of checks and balances result from more indirect challenges and subtle organizational changes that are not explicitly designed to be checks on Communist Party power. There have been, however, constant struggles to check the power of individuals or factions within the Communist Party.169
Most of the factions do not come together around the ultimate goals of the CCP. Most factions differ in terms of the scope and pace of economic or political reform. Generally, factions have been labeled “conservatives or hardliners” and “radicals, liberals or reformers” by outsiders. In China, depending on who is doing the labeling, we see the terms “mainstream or moderates,” “right deviationists” or “left deviationists.”
Whether it is exogenous or endogenous analysis, there is usually a dichotomy that includes one group that wants reform or modernization at a rapid pace and is willing to take risks of setbacks, and a group that insists on a slower controlled and planned pace of change and that places more value on stability and absolute party control. In this chapter I will refer to the former as reformers and the latter as hardliners. We should note that the differences are not based upon perceptions of economic class or advantage, or even issues like individual rights or liberties as is often found in the West (republicans—democrats or labor—conservatives).
Institutionalizing factional schisms is the most likely step that will be taken to democratize China. During the Deng Xiaoping era, a constant struggle took place between the two sides and Deng served as a mediator. Until Deng’s death, if the reformers went too far (Hu Yaobang in 1986 and Zhao Ziyang in 1989) they and many of their faction members were purged. The hardliners have been able to avoid being purged but have, at times, been relegated to a more passive role.
Since China has not allowed, and is not likely to allow, the emergence of a serious opposition party from outside the Communist Party, like the dangwai became the DPP in Taiwan, the institutionalization of pluralism will probably be based on an internal factional split. There is no issue, like “Taiwan for the Taiwanese,” which can form an easy and acceptable basis for an opposition party, but there is the issue that Communist Party power should be limited. The scope and pace of political reform is likely to become the ideological starting point for developing a formal organizational partition within the leadership that could lead to democratization. The behavior that is missing is the behavior that was learned in Taiwan, and that is to be tolerant and patient as well as to play by established rules of the political game. Of course, the rules will have to change. The leaders will have to recognize that the Four Cardinal Principles are too inflexible.
Every nation’s path to democracy will be different because of the political environment, historical and cultural heritage, elite personalities, organizational relationships, etc. It is not likely that China can follow the same path to democracy taken by Taiwan. It is also unlikely that they can find a path similar to the one taken by the Soviet Union. While there are major differences, there are some commonalities between the circumstances in the Soviet Union and China, which deserve attention.
Some of the Soviet milestones included:
(1) opening the door for criticism of the Communist Party role and the ideology; (2) party reform without radical system change, (3) glastnost – public voice openness; (4) novoye myshlyeniye – new thinking, (5) perestroika – restructuring or system reform; (6) secret voting for party leaders; (7) neutralize nomenklatura or old guard; (8) challenge democratic centralism; (9) open elections for new parliament; (10) remove “leading role” of party from the constitution; and (11) direct election of the president.
170These eleven milestones can be considered steps toward democratization and when China takes similar measures it can be viewed as movement toward democratization.
Nikita Khruschev fired the first shot at the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in 1956 when he formally criticized the earlier power abuses and mass repressions of Joseph Stalin.171He was more of an elitist who thought the “dictatorship of the proletariat” was no longer needed. A similar confrontation occurred between Chairman Mao Tsetung and President Liu Shaoqi (called China’s Khruschev) in the mid-1960s. Liu, like Khruschev, thought the CCP should depend on party discipline and organization. Mao used his perverted form of democracy or proletariat involvement to challenge party corruption. In China, Mao and the hardliners prevailed using the Cultural Revolution to purge Liu. In the Soviet Union Leonid Brezhnev and the hardliners prevailed. But in both cases the challenge was public and the criticism of ideology, or the practice of ideology, began.
The CCP, like the CPSU, went through a series of efforts, known as rectification campaigns, to reform the party without changing the system. The first occurred in 1942 in Yan’an.172The campaigns involved purging challengers, strengthening party control mechanisms and organizations, and increasing the study of ideology and discipline rules by party members. In most cases rectification campaigns were designed by whichever group within the party prevailed at the time to weaken the other group. China has seen major “anti-rightist” campaigns and some “anti-leftist” rhetoric. In some cases the campaigns used other slogans, like the “spiritual pollution” campaign designed to attack reformers who were allowing into China too much cultural byproduct from contact with outsiders. That was perceived as causing a challenge to the Communist authority for determining what is right or wrong for the society. Most mass campaigns were used by hardliners to tighten policy. In recent years the efficacy of mass campaigns as a political tool has been called into question and that is a positive step toward democratization.
China experienced its first effort at glastnost, in 1956, long before Gorbachev made the term popular. Chairman Mao launched the Hundred Flowers Campaign, which was partially an attempt to understand what had happened in the Soviet Union in January and February of that year when Khruschev attacked Stalin.173Recognizing that intellectuals were important to the progress of his modernization effort, Mao in an internal party speech on May 2 “elaborated on the idea of ‘letting a hundred flowers bloom’ in the field of culture, and ‘a hundred schools of thought contend’ in the field of science.”174
Intellectuals answered the call, mostly to show their personal political correctness and regain their reputations. But they went too far. They were encouraged to and did speak out and publish articles about party weaknesses such as “bureaucratism, sectarianism, and subjectivism,” using the terms of the 1942 Yan’an party rectification campaign.175The criticism became too great and the party hardliners brought pressure on Mao to stop it. Mao revised his earlier speech entitled “’On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People’ so that it read as if the promised intellectual freedoms were to be used only if they contributed to the strengthening of socialism.”176
The party initiated a counterattack on intellectuals and by the end of 1957, more than “300,000 intellectuals had been branded ‘rightists,’ a label that effectively ruined their careers.” Mao had cut off the bloom of the flowers and the hardliners had won another skirmish. This was a major setback for democratization because it made scholars reluctant to speak out against the regime.
In the democracy movements of the 1990s many scholars remembered the Hundred Flowers Campaign and refused to participate. The democracy movements were another form of glastnost, and even sanctioned to a degree, but within clear limitations. It was permissible to critique the results of government policies as long as the criticism did not run counter to the Four Cardinal Principles. When it exceeded those principles it was crushed. The democracy movements may have been a minor step forward in democratization, but it again showed that it will take a senior party leader, if not the senior party leader, like Gorbachev in the Soviet Union or Chiang Ching- kuo in Taiwan, to make any real progress.
China’s equivalent to novoye myshlyeniye or new thinking was Deng Xiaoping’s major policy changes in 1978. Starting with his earlier 1976 statement that “it doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice” meant the beginning of the end for ideology as the major determinant for Party policy.177In 1977, he introduced “seek truth from facts” which laid a foundation for his 1978 statement that “practice the sole criteria for testing truth.”178Both reduced the role of ideology and increased pragmatic thought.
Deng went on to add his new approach to foreign policy which was to open China to the West. He was prepared to change the Chinese mindset that was anti-foreign and especially anti-western to one that was more relaxed and willing to cooperate with the West in the modernization process. This step was a precondition in the Soviet Union for both perestroika and glastnost.179In effect this major new thinking changed China’s principal societal task from class struggle to economic modernization. Policies would be measured more by success than by how well they match ideological doctrine as before. In any case, the new thinking, which has not been reversed by hardliners, is a major step toward some form of democratization or at least a foundation stone that has been laid.
Gorbachev initially intended the term perestroika to have more of an economic meaning but as economic change took place the concept spilled over into the political realm.180China has applied the term in the economic realm and indirectly that has established conditions for more movement in the political realm. The one major systemic step that has been taken was to separate the Party from the operational control of the government and military to a large degree. This step has been particularly effective in moving China’s modernization process forward. When party cadres were removed from the daily management of industrial enterprises and technocrats were put in charge, a major surge in productivity took place. It meant that no longer were the criteria for success based upon Marxist dogma, but on actual productivity. That changed the entire decision- making process in China. As experts rather than ideologues have more input into economic decision- making it meant a major reduction in the overall role of the Communist Party at all levels of the society. The reverse of this evolution is that technocrats and intellectuals become increasingly important over time and more and more will be elected as the leaders of their special realms. Again, policies will continue to be developed more and more based on logic and practical experience than on ideological dogma and history. As more and more of China’s best and brightest enter the national leadership from the expert field the likelihood is that the role of the Party cadres will continue to lessen and movement toward democracy will be more possible.
The sixth milestone that was passed in the Soviet Union was in January 1987 when the secret voting was announced for the election of Party Committee members.181No longer were leaders coopted from below. That meant too that the criteria for promotion were more on ability and popular support than on cronyism and ideological conformity. It was a major step in getting people into place who could later vote to change the system or support a reform effort. China began this process with the 1979 electoral law that “mandated direct popular election of deputies to local people’s congresses at and below the county level.”182The Chinese Communist leaders began to introduce secret ballots into a number of elections selectively. In the 2002 election to the 16th National Party Congress much emphasis was placed on multi-candidate secret elections.183There remained, however, a problem for democratization. “As a fundamental organizational principle, democratic centralism is the tradition of the Party's political life and characteristic of inner Party democracy.”184Nominations are still made by Party committees at the higher levels. As described above, democratic centralism effectively negates the democratic aspects of the secret ballot.
Neutralizing the nomenklatura, the old Party members who enjoyed special privilege, has also been generally accomplished in China. Deng Xiaoping used the shrewd bureaucratic move of creating a new honorific and consultative organization at the highest level. It was officially called the Central Advisory Committee and made up of 172 members.185It was called the Council of Elders by some. The idea was to promote the elders who were important as symbolic leaders, but who were really not contributing to the modernization effort. By placing them in this organization they were effectively taken out of the mainstream of government or party operational work and given honorific titles as advisors. They were able to maintain the perks of their offices and general access to policy data. They could even attend Party Central Committee meetings in a non-voting capacity. The committee was abolished in 1992. It had served its purpose. While this effort did not contribute directly to democratization, it did get many hardliners out of the way and provide those interested in political reform with fewer obstacles.
The last four milestones (challenge democratic centralism, open elections for a new parliament, removal of “leading role” of party from the constitution, and direct election of the president) have not been addressed except outside by intellectuals or democratic activists who have since been exiled.
One discussion that takes place regularly within CPC circles is on inner-party democracy. That discussion is a bit misleading and requires careful examination. It generally means there is a sincere attempt, within the Party, to expand the number of voices that have an input on the various issues. But inner-party democracy, as a real democratic form, is neutralized by the inclusion of the requirement to handle debates using the principle of democratic centralism.
In February 2000, in a speech in Gaozhou, Guangdong Province, President Jiang Zemin introduced his contribution to Communist theory in China: the Three Represents (三个代表) theory. It has been criticized as being too complicated and as being forced into Chinese communist literature. It is indeed very difficult to understand. The following is what is quoted as the essence of his contribution.
Reviewing the course of struggle and the basic experience over the past 80 years and looking ahead to the arduous tasks and bright future in the new century, our Party should continue to stand in the forefront of the times and lead the people in marching toward victory. In a word, the Party must always represent the requirements of the development of China's advanced productive forces, the orientation of the development of China's advanced culture, and the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people in China.
These words have been disseminated throughout the government, Party and People's Liberation Army in China. It has been the study topic for party sessions everywhere at all levels. From our perspective it has a single message. The Communist Party should now be all inclusive and should represent everyone, including capitalists and private entrepreneurs (advanced productive forces). That is quite different from the past and may contain the seeds that will lead, eventually, to more democracy. If rich capitalists and private entrepreneurs are allowed to become party members now, someday they may become dominant. It can be a situation in which capitalists, who are less ideological and more pragmatic, laterally enter the government and Party at relatively high levels from powerful economic positions and begin to influence national policy. It would be similar to the entry of Taiwanese into the Kuomintang described above.
The possibility for momentous political reform is not likely in the near term. It is possible, however, when the young citizens of today have gained more economic power and have become more educated and cosmopolitan. For this environment to mature, it will probably take another generation of about twenty to thirty years. At that time those who have become rich and powerful as capitalists in different areas will be able to buy the influence they need to penetrate the political system and influence it from within and at the top. It is also likely that at that time they will want to enter politics to gain influence.
The fact that the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution and Tiananmen could not dislodge the Communist Party means a revolution from below is not likely in China. Since the Communist Party current presides over arguably the most effective means of social control the world has ever known, it will take a top-down approach to establish a checks and balances system that is characteristic of a democracy.
While the evolution of a serious two-party or multi-party political system is unlikely for a long time, there has been some movement to check the power of the most senior leaders in the party. Decision-making has evolved from a one person dictator (Mao) through a collegial consensus system at the top levels of the CCP to a bureaucratic structure that makes decisions based on horizontal and vertical negotiation as well as behind the scenes influences.186Horizontal negotiation means issues are seriously debated at all levels by all the organizations at the same bureaucratic level that have an interest in the issue. For example, whether or not to join the World Trade Organization was discussed in research reports, conferences and special briefings by any agency that would be affected by joining. The State Development Planning Commission, the State Economic and Trade Commission, the Ministry of Finance, the People’s Bank of China, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation, the Ministry of Information Industry, the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, etc. all had an input into the final decision.187
Vertical negotiations are those between different political levels: national or central level, provinces, municipalities, counties, townships, etc. For example: the issue of how much tax money earned by a province must be sent to the national level is regularly debated energetically. Provinces have found ways to leverage their own position such as withholding support on other national issues, withholding the distribution of natural resources, such as coal, to other areas, or delaying the carrying out of national projects within their territory. The current political system in China, contrary to some generalizations about Communist systems, is not a top down totalitarian system in which the senor government organizations order the lower levels to comply. There is a complex process of negotiations that take place and it includes a great deal of give and take.
Some issues like the building of the Three Gorges Dam, which will be the largest in the world, have required both horizontal and vertical negotiations. This effort took several decades of study and negotiation.188The project was first conceived in the 1930s, but didn’t really become a major bureaucratic issue until the 1950s after the Communist government came to power. Over time many organizations had an interest and were able to influence the final decision to build the dam or how to build the dam (such as the height which would determine the amount of inundation above the dam). Organizations involved included: The Yangzi Valley Planning Office (organized by the national level), the Ministry of Water Resources, the Ministry of Electric Power (sometimes merged with the Ministry of Water Resources), the Ministry of Communications (concerned with river traffic), the State Planning Commission (how it fit into the overall economic plan), the Ministry of Defense (how to protect such a splendid target), the State Science and Technology Commission (contribution to scientific development because of electricity generation), pertinent Machine Building Ministries (equipment to build the dam), the Ministry of Finance (how to pay for it), Chongqing Municipality (part of which would be inundated), and provinces along the Yangzi River from Sichuan to Shanghai (some would be inundated, some would have to accept relocated citizens, some would benefit from the generation of electricity).
In addition to the early checks and balances that have emerged as a result of bureaucratic organization to solve political and economic issues, China has taken two other steps to reduce the power of the small elite group of party leaders at the top:
(1) separate and change the character of party control over government and military organizations and (2) increase the role of the National People’s Congress and to some extent the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
Prior to the chaotic Cultural Revolution (1965-1975 when nobody controlled anybody), the Communist Party maintained a relatively disciplined control over all government organizations at all levels through a system of interlocking directorates and parallel organizations.189The interlocking directorate is when the senior person at each political or military level holds the top job in all three organizations at that level: party, government and military. For example, a First Secretary of the Party would hold concurrent jobs as Province Governor and Military District Commander or First Political Commissar in the PLA. Parallel organizations meant that the Party would have cells or committees at every level of government or military organization down to the village or district levels or the platoon level in the military. These party cells were also omnipresent in schools, factories, and farms.
During this period constant power abuse and corruption occurred because of a lack of checks and balances. Correcting this imbalance was a principal stimulus for Tiananmen. Over time there was a clear cry for preventing an over concentration of power at all levels. The immediate solution has been organizational, through checks and balances, rather than through a stronger role by the populace through voting or better monitoring by the mass media. Evolving the political system so that existing or new organizations would check and balance each other has had to be a top down solution.
We can see some progress. Today no individuals hold all three operational jobs (party, government and military) at any level. In the year 2002, the only exception was at the very top. Jiang Zemin held the three supreme positions: General Secretary of the Central Committee of Communist Party, President, and Chairman of Central Military Commission.
Parallel structures still exist in most organizations, but two phenomena have reduced their power considerably. First, the Party has been taken out of direct operational decision making in nearly all government or military organizations. There may be some exceptions, but it is usually based on the capability or personality of the individual, not on the established process. Second the criterion for selecting leaders in non-Party organizations is now based more on technical skills than on loyalty or ability to unthinkingly regurgitate the party line. The Party does, however, still maintain dossiers on cadres at all levels as well as manage personnel assignments and promotions and that still provides strong influence. The degree of control fluctuates with the political winds of the time.
The separation of Party influence or control over government and military organizations will be a major indicator of a checks and balances system that can lead to democratization. In Taiwan that did not occur until the mid to late 1990s. It is one of the most difficult obstacles for those interested in democratization to overcome. So while we can see some ability of some political and military organizations to check and balance each other, we also see a system that has a long way to go in China.
The second organizational check that has seen some progress is in the increased role of the National People’s Congress. At the top of the formal government organizational chart is the National People's Congress. Article 2 of the 1982 PRC Constitution states: “All power in the People's Republic of China belongs to the people” and “The National People's Congress and the local people's congresses at various levels are the organs through which the people exercise state power.” This is another instance in which the Constitution makes China sound like a democracy and it makes many Chinese believe they are democratic. But we must examine the system more closely.
The NPC is, constitutionally, the approving authority for all broad political and economic plans and policies as well as national laws and regulations. They are technically the legislative organ of the government, but the way they debate and develop laws is quite different from the American Congress or Britain’s Parliament. Their exact functions and powers are spelled out in Article 62 of the Constitution.
Because of the top-down Leninist control system, prior to 1980, it was a rubber-stamp organization. Since it was made up of representatives or deputies of all areas of the government and of regional political units, however, it served as an important conduit for transmitting the decisions of the senior leaders down to all areas of the bureaucracy.
Until 1980, the NPC as a rubber-stamp organization was only used as a means to co-opt local leaders throughout the country. They traveled to Beijing once a year in March for the meeting that lasted about three weeks. They heard all the reports of what the government has been doing during the previous year and approved the agenda. The NPC served four major purposes for the government:
1. It made local leaders around the country believe they were part of the "national" effort. 2. It added legitimacy to national plans by showing that leaders from all over approved the plans. 3. It provided a conduit for information to get down to the lower levels. 4. It provided prestige and legitimacy for local leaders who were shown in pictures with political "superstars" at the national level. They then, presumably, became more effective at the lower levels.
The 1980 National People’s Congress was the first to seriously question government actions. In November 1979 an oil-drilling platform in the Bohai Gulf had collapsed and the official inquiry noted that the causes were “official negligence” and “bureaucratic arrogance and complacency.”190When the NPC met in September of 1980 it held hearings that exposed government malfeasance and cover- up. The NPC began to challenge governmental waste, corruption and inefficiency and to hold the government and the Party accountable. This was one of the periods of loosening and the press was able to cover the hearings. Hu Yaobang, a reformer and the Secretary General of the CCP at the time, declared this Third Session of the Fifth NPC to be a “great historical turning point” in the democratization of China and he may have been correct.
Liao Gailong, a reform theoretician, presented a “manifesto on political-institutional reform. He made six recommendations:
(1) a strong, bicameral national legislature, (2) a wholly independent judiciary, (3) freedom of press and publication, (4) free and democratic labor unions and peasant associations, (5) democratic management of enterprises and business firms and (6) complete separation of party and state administrative functions at all levels, with organs of the government assuming sole responsibility for doing the government’s work.
191The mass media picked up on the ideas and began to editorialize about what needed to be done to accomplish democratization. This movement toward democratization was short-lived. Increasing social disorder brought on partially by an economic downturn combined with reaction to riots in Poland caused a backlash by the conservative hardliners. At a CCP Central Committee work conference in mid-December 1980, they initiated the “anti bourgeois liberalization” campaign. Deng Xiaoping “called for strengthening the state apparatus of the people’s democratic dictatorship.”192Hu Yaobang was forced to back up and even go through a public self-criticism. He survived this period of tightening up, but in the next loosening period in late 1986 he was neutralized. At that time Fang Lizhi incited student demonstrations calling for democracy, but the movement was stopped quickly. Hu was purged from the top Party job in January 1987 for not reacting strongly enough against the movement.
The Sixth NPC maintained a relatively low profile during the tightening period and generally followed the party line. In November 1987, however, the new CCP General Secretary, Zhao Ziyang, began another push for political reform. He called for:
(1) separating party and government; (2) delegating state power and authority to lower levels; (3) reforming government bureaucracy; (4) reforming the personnel (cadre) system; (5) establishing a system of political dialogue and consultation between the party and the people; (6) enhancing the supervisory roles of representative assemblies and mass organization; and (7) strengthening the socialist system.
193These recommendations were far less “democratic” than the previous set supported by Hu Yaobang, but did aim at reducing the absolute power of the party. Ideas that could lead to increased democratization were on the table.
Zhao’s recommendations, although aimed at the CCP, came at a time when the Seventh NPC was being elected in March 1988. Zhao had apparently been able to influence the elections because the Seventh NPC was dominated by reformers who were first-timers (70%), younger (average age 52), and better educated.194This combination of the senior CCP leader (Zhao) and an increasingly younger and better educated NPC resulted in a more active group that became more involved in scrutinizing the government. This more active NPC contributed to the tense political atmosphere that led to the Tiananmen disaster which resulted in the dismissal of Zhao Ziyang and another period of conservative dominance.
The period of tightening after Tiananmen lasted longer. At the time of the First Session of the Eighth NPC in March 1993, the main focus of the NPC was economic and it supported Deng’s economic reforms and opening up to the outside world. There was a clear step backward in the democratization process. It was manifested in a revision to the Preamble of the Constitution that called for “perfection of the system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under theleadership of the Communist Party.”195This appeared to be democratic, especially in the eyes of the conservatives who see listening to a broader range of voices as democratic, as long as the Party makes the final decisions.
We can see by reading Premier Zhu Rongji’s work report to First Session of the 10th National People's Congress on March 5, 2003 that the role of the NPC was not loosened after Tiananmen. The focus on the work report is economic. There is no mention of any type of political reform or even finding ways to check and balance the Party. In fact, quite the opposite is true. The Party role, on the surface, is strengthened.
However, there was an attempt to formally include a new addendum to Party theory called the “Three Represents,” describe above. But the “Three Represents” actually provides indirectly for a dilution of the CCP by including “advanced social productive forces.” It means the wealthy can join the Party and ultimately become involved in political decision-making. “Representing” societal classes other than the workers and peasants is a major step forward for increased pluralization of the Party. More and more bright industrialists and businessmen will join the Party and eventually gain more influential roles. This inclusionary policy was definitely a significant milestone in the movement toward democratization.
The 2003 work report also mentions multi-party cooperation and consultation which is a reference to the Chinese People’s Consultative Conference (CPPCC). The CPPCC is a loosely organized united front organization that: “Under the leadership of the CPC, consists of representatives of the CCP, eight democratic parties, democrats with no party affiliations, various people's organizations, every ethnic group and all walks of life, compatriots from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao, and returned overseas Chinese, as well as specially invited individuals, reflecting the interests of various social strata.” 196In the past, it has been merely another feedback organization for the CCP. It is possible for new ideas or issues to be identified by this group, but they will still have to be processed by the Party before they are implemented.
The CPPCC is not likely to become a counterweight to the Party or even the source of an opposition party. While it is highlighted by the Chinese as representative of democracy in China it, in reality, serves no traditional democratic practice.
Communist Party control over the mass media is also nearly total. Newspapers, magazines, radio and TV sometimes serve as a check on party or government activities or policies, but they must refrain from criticism that would attack any of the Four Cardinal Principles. The mass media can criticize the results of government policies as long as there is no direct attack against the ideological basis for policies or the role of the Party. During a loosening (fang) period the criticism can be stronger than during a tightening (shou) period. The media does do investigative reporting and even sets up real time call-in citizen’s complaint shows or critical letters to the editor. Since all the mass media is government owned and operated though there is little chance that it can be used as a serious check on the government. It is viewed more as a feedback mechanism to make the government aware of citizen’s issues. It does, however, identify instances of serious corruption or abuse of power by individual government officials.
There have been times when the policies that allow criticism have been confusing even to the managers of the mass media. In loosening periods, when the reformers are in the ascendancy, they have been allowed to critique more enthusiastically. In tightening times, when the hardliners have more influence, their critical efforts are more circumscribed.
The mass media is the object of struggle between the conservatives and the reformers. Each time either of them achieves dominance the first step is to replace the leaders of the CCP propaganda organs that control all forms of mass media. At different times individual editors or publishers have risked their jobs by introducing liberal ideas in the press, journals or in books. In many cases they thought they had the tacit approval of one of the senior party leaders like Hu Yaobang or Zhao Ziyang, but in the end, when the conservatives won, their risk more often than not resulted in their being fired. The CCP is ultra sensitive about control over the mass media and as a result informed observers can judge the state of the conservative-liberal struggle and monitor movement toward democratization by following editorials in the national press and articles in key journals.
The mass media then is a major barometer that measures democratization in that it is an indication of the degree of checks and balances on the incumbent political leaders and their policies. It is one of the most visible ways to monitor movement toward democratization and to date, except for the short period in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s when a democracy movement tried to get started and was crushed, there has been little indication that the mass media will be used as part of democratic checks and balances. It will be used to identify some weaknesses in current policies so they can be corrected, but the intent will not be to challenge the communist system until the organizational checks and balances discussed above come in to being.
The external environment provides at least three forces that have had an influence on the democratization process; two positive and one negative. First is the general global trend toward democratization and the second is increasing global economic interdependence.197The negative one has to do with a country’s perception of an external threat. As Chinese leaders paint a picture of imminent danger from outside they are able to tighten controls.
One external influence, the struggle over Taiwan’s entry into the UN and other international organizations, has a direct negative impact on the negotiations between China and Taiwan. Taiwan's continued efforts to gain acceptance as a nation state in international organizations that are based on state sovereignty is a constant irritant to Chinese leaders.
Although some countries have vacillated between authoritarian and democratic governments, over 80 countries have become democracies since 1980.198That means that now nearly 140 out of 191 countries are democracies. Only four countries remain as Communist countries and China is one of them.199Most of the pressure to democratize comes from the United States and its concern for human rights. In some cases American pressure is backed by economic sanctions or incentives, but the rationale is still based on individual liberty. Most democratic countries serve as a positive example for democracy by displaying the social and economic advantages of democratic life, but generally America is the only messianic country that actively proselytizes and tries to cajole other countries into becoming a democracy. Most of the rest have a live and let live philosophy. Democracies have been more successful in the modernization process and that serves as one incentive for citizens of an authoritarian system to promote democratic behavior. The pressure to democratize becomes greater as more and more of those citizens (e.g., students, government officials or just travelers) view conditions in the rest of the world and develop expectations for their own countries.
Economic interdependence is another powerful force to democratize. Not only does it force countries to adopt similar rules of law, it increases exposure to the lifestyles of democratic countries which are generally more prosperous and peaceful. The advantages of individual liberty and personal freedoms are absorbed by those who travel to a democratic country or by contact with persons from democratic countries working in or trading with an authoritarian country.
The one external influence that has tended to work against democratization is the perception of a security threat that permits incumbent leaders to rationalize tight, non-democratic control, as necessary to prevent military invasion or attack. The underlying rationale is not too different from the American government curtailing some freedoms and increasing the powers of arrest and detention during the war on terrorism or the major restrictions and censorship on the mass media reporting that were enforced in the name of security during World War II. One of the main differences between democracies and authoritarian states is that the limits for infringement of basic rights are debated openly in a democracy.
China is a more sophisticated and experienced country than many democratizing nations, but not all senior officials are cosmopolitan. The Communist leaders have been able to formulate and articulate their alternative definition of democracy and to explain to the citizenry why they do not follow the Western democratization trend blindly. They explain that the situation in China, with intense population pressures, requires a more disciplined form of government. They have also been able to rationalize that the social condition in China is unique and that the only way to maintain peace and stability is to eschew the certain chaos of democratizing. Even after their own anarchy during the Cultural Revolution and Tiananmen they have been able to convince the vast majority of citizens that Communist control is absolutely necessary. They have successfully depended on stability, nationalism and economic progress as the central reasons for their continued authority. Their explanations have been successful to the point that many Chinese can travel to and live in democratic countries, see the strong points of individual freedom, and continue to believe that China is still an exception to the rule and does not need to democratize.
Prior to 1978 China was generally isolated from the world economic system. When Deng Xiaoping came to power one of his central themes was to open up to the world. Since that time China has become one of the largest and most active partners in every aspect of the world economy.
After a long struggle with the world community and after adjusting internal trade and investment laws and organizations, China entered the World Trade Organization on December 11, 2001.200This step resulted in increased legitimacy for China as well as an increase in trade and investment with democratic countries.
While statistics about Chinese travel outside China are not very precise, the European Union Chamber of Commerce offers the following estimates on the number of Chinese travelers to destinations outside China.
Figure 2—1 Number of Chinese Travelers (millions)
Even if the statistics are not accurate, the trend is. There is no doubt about a rapidly expanding number of Chinese going abroad. If they do reach 100 million in the year 2020, it will mean that most educated citizens, and certainly even most senior government and military officials, will have had an opportunity to see first-hand the results of democratization in other countries. It will certainly allow an increased ability to communicate with a larger number of officials who have lacked a common frame of reference in the past.
Over the years, direct and explicit persuasion by other countries for China to democratize has not been extensive except in two areas: the formerly annual Most Favored Nation debate in the US Congress and the aftermath of the Tiananmen debacle.
Even though the US agreed in the 1972 Shanghai Communiqué to respect the sovereignty and avoid interference in the internal affairs of China, by the early 1990s American officials began to pressure China to democratize under the rubric of human rights.201At first, in the 1980s, pressures intensified after the student movement in 1986 when the concern was voiced by students, scholars, the press and independent human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. The American government at that time did not seriously pressure China even on human rights. Official concern was manifested in open letters to the Chinese government and in increasing press exposure. The four main concerns at that time were:
(1) prohibition of emigration, (2) forced abortion (concern for individual rights of mothers), (3) Tibet (the suppression of religious freedom by Buddhists) and (4) the treatment of intellectuals (e.g., arbitrary arrest with Fang Lizhi representing the most visible case).
As the overall US China relationship began to change from security-based to economic-based in the mid-1980s, Chinese communist leaders began to see an internal threat to their survival that would ultimately be more dangerous than any external threat (the Soviet Union at that time). They began to worry about the cultural and political byproducts of the developing China US economic relationship. This worry was manifested in the “anti-spiritual pollution” and “anti- bourgeois liberalization” campaigns. The center of this concern was the potential for democratization which would end the absolute control of the Communist Party.
The June 4, 1989 Tiananmen debacle was a watershed event. The pressure to democratize moved from the unofficial to the official realm. Americans viewed the crackdown in the mass media and welcomed exiled students and intellectuals who escaped from China. Over the next ten years pressure to democratize, still under the rubric of human rights, became part of official US policy and was made explicit in congressional actions and executive branch policies.
The first official act in response to the “human rights violations” in Tiananmen occurred on June 5th , the day after the crackdown. The first Bush administration announced sanctions that included:
(1) restricting travel by Americans to China, (2) suspending military sales to China and (3) postponing future military exchanges.
Later in June a second series of sanctions was imposed. They included:
(1) restriction of further lending to China by international financial institutions; (2) suspension of senior level official visits; (3) suspension of investment guarantees by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC); (4) curtailment of financing under the Trade Development Program; (5) stopping the issuance of export licenses for American satellite to be launched by the Chinese; and (6) suspending the implementation of the 1985 nuclear cooperation agreement.
202All of these sanctions were in effect efforts to pressure China in the direction of democratization.
Chinese leaders recognized these actions as an attempt by the US to move China away from authoritarianism and began, in 1989, to use the term “peaceful evolution” as a description for Chinese citizens to understand the decade is a strong indication that the Chinese communist leadership was sensitive to the American attempt to force democratization and that it was relatively successful.
Until Tiananmen, the rest of the world had successfully separated economic from political concerns and human rights violations. Except for egregious acts, economic sanctions were not generally viewed as a tool to encourage other countries to reform politically. In the aftermath of Tiananmen most nations of the world recoiled and kept China at arms length by slowing or stopping diplomatic and business exchanges and most supported the US effort to stop all loans to China from international financial organizations like the World Bank.203But this did not last long. Within six months most nations were again working to improve their relations with Beijing. The first to return to business as usual were Asian nations, including Taiwan, who have similar group oriented notions of human rights.
By 1992 about the only place it was possible to find serious efforts to use economic or fiscal sanctions to change China’s political behavior was in the US Congress. China was given Most Favored Nation (MFN) status in 1980 right after the US recognized China and until Tiananmen it was routinely approved each year.204It had to be considered every year because of the Jackson- Vanik freedom of emigration amendment of Title IV, Trade Act of 1974.205After Tiananmen Congress held hearings on China and attempted to link human rights behavior to MFN approval. The linkage was broken in 1994 when President Clinton’s administration determined that it accomplished nothing except to cause harm to overall US China relations. On October 10, 2000 (ironically Taiwan’s national day), the President signed Public Law 106-286 granting “Normal Trade Relations” (NTR) status to China once it entered the WTO, which it did on December 11, 2001.
We can say then that economic interdependence has indirectly contributed to the democratization of China by providing a weapon that can be used by those who would promote political reform. It has not been very effective to this point, but the experience of having been sanctioned economically for human rights violations has created a factor to be considered as Chinese leaders think about political reform.
The third dynamic is a negative, external phenomenon that impacts on the democratization process; the perception of a threat to survival. Internal strategic and political literature prior to 1990 posited an enemy that, citizens were warned, was about to invade China. In the 1950s that enemy was America. In 1960s it was the U.S. and the Soviet Union. In the 1970s to mid-1980s it was only the Soviet Union.206After the late 1980s no single country has been formally designated as the enemy, but the series of events from 1996 to 2001 nearly caused the U.S. to be officially designated as an enemy.207But rather than designate the U.S. as an enemy the approach has been apromotion of extreme nationalism, almost to the point of xenophobia. After the fall of communist countries in Europe, China’s communist leaders have had to scramble to find a basis for legitimacy. Extreme nationalism, or China against a world that can’t possibly understand China’s environment, has been that basis to replace the Marxist-Leninist Mao Thought ideology which was giving way to more pragmatic thought.
During the periods when America or the Soviet Union were put forward as foreign threats, the Communist Party was able to rationalize its irreplaceable role in protecting the people. With an imminent threat it was not possible for potential dissidents to divide the society with political debate that could be used by the enemy. After the Cultural Revolution and Tiananmen, the Communist Party was able to convince most citizens that stability is the single most important factor required for continued modernization and peace and that Western democracy is the most dangerous threat to a better life. They have also been able to convince citizens that they are the only alternative for protecting that progress.
The external environment has affected Taiwan differently. Taiwan has gone through similar experiences, but reacted differently and the results have been the opposite to those of China. In the 1950s and 1960s, tens of thousands of Taiwan’s students traveled to the US for advanced study. Many stayed in the US and many returned and became successful. Businessmen and government officials traveled for business reasons and parents of students traveled to visit their children. The population of Taiwan became relatively cosmopolitan and somewhat Americanized. Nearly all maintained their Chinese cultural identity, but became acculturated to western ways. An understanding and language developed so that Taiwan could communicate effectively with the outside world. As a result, Taiwan became extremely successful economically as one of Asia’s four tigers (Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore).
After 1971 when Taiwan lost its seat in the United Nations it had to find other ways to compete in the world. At the time global anti-colonial and democratization efforts were in full swing. Taiwan’s leaders recognized early that if they hoped to retake the mainland or even survive they would have to find an ally. They chose to join the democratization movement partially to attract powerful allies in their struggle with China.
A better educated and cosmopolitan leadership combined with their need to find external support contributed, in the long run, to the democratization process. It also provided a political basis for expanding economic contacts with the outside world. Taiwan, being an island nation with few natural resources, needed trade to survive. When it moved to an export oriented economy it found solid markets mostly in democratic countries. It became dependent on external markets for its economic well-being. As a result, as Taiwan’s democratization process increased momentum, the outside world was in fact able to influence the timing and direction of democratization.
Before Taiwan began to democratize its only political appeal to the outside was based on a common anti-Communism. They became known as one of the staunchest anti-Communist countries on earth, but that was not enough to sustain their growth. As they began to democratize, economic ties with outside democracies increased to the point that they became subject to pressures from those countries to complete their democratization process and avoid human rights abuses.
The one area that worked against Taiwan’s democratization was, as in the case for China, the external military threat. The military threat caused some KMT leaders to perceive a need for more absolute control. They equated any challenge to their power as something that would aid the Chinese Communists in their attempt to liberate Taiwan. They could not allow democratic debate on this issue within the country and that worked against democratization. Further, they could rationalize tight authoritarian control. They strongly believed a principal weapon that would be used by the Communist side would be subversion from within. They had plenty of experience in that phenomenon in their loss to the Communists in 1949. So in their minds, if an advocate of Taiwanese independence spoke out, it would weaken the presumed unity on the island and make them susceptible to attack. If there were no serious Communist military threat, the democratization of Taiwan would probably have come much earlier.
One external political issue that has not contributed to democratization but has had a serious impact on negotiations between Taiwan and China is Taiwan’s status in the UN and international organizations. Since Taiwan was replaced by China in the United Nations (UN resolution 2758) on October 25, 1971 Taiwan has struggled for international legitimacy. Before that membership change, more than 100 countries recognized Taiwan and maintained an embassy in Taipei. Within five years the number of states recognizing Taiwan was cut to 31. The total number of nations in the world in 1950, before the major surge of states breaking away from colonial domination, was less than 100. Most nations were either in the Western camp or the Communist camp although some non- aligned nations did exist.
Figure 2—2 China and Taiwan Changes in Diplomatic Recognition208
Although there was a steady increase in the number of states switching recognition from Taiwan to China in the period leading up to the UN change, the major flood of changes occurred after 1971. Another major milestone was 1979 when the US recognized China allowing many states loyal to the US to follow that lead.
In the first years after 1971 China and Taiwan agreed that other countries could not recognize both. It was a zero-sum game. If a country established diplomatic relations with China, Taiwan was certain to sever relations with that country. This policy caused many hardships on Taiwan’s businessmen when traveling outside Taiwan. Only about 40 countries had offices in Taiwan that could issue a visa for travel to their countries.210The self-imposed isolation only caused suffering for the Taiwanese.
Some small states, and South Africa, tried to establish dual recognition, but China would not permit it.211In most cases, once China put on the pressure the small states broke relations with Taiwan and returned to China. Even South Africa eventually broke relations with Taiwan.
In 1988 President Lee Tenghui, at the Thirteenth KMT Party Congress, began to promote breaking out of the isolation. In 1989 Lee took the major step of announcing “his willingness for peaceful coexistence with the PRC, and, if necessary, dual recognition.”212This became known as pragmatic or flexible diplomacy. Eventually Taiwan’s foreign policy encouraged increasedparticipation in international governmental and nongovernmental organizations whenever possible and in 1993 the KMT co-opted a DPP originated idea to rejoin the United Nations.213Generally, Taiwan’s foreign policy focuses on expanding its freedom to participate in the internationalcommunity in order to improve its ability to do business more effectively.
Figure 2—3 China and Taiwan Participation in International Organizations 1960- 1996214
The effort to expand and formalize Taiwan’s status in the international community is in direct conflict with China’s view that Taiwan is only a part of China and not an independent actor. Chinese leaders believe this is still a zero-sum game and that the more Taiwan is allowed to participate as a separate state in world affairs, the more likely it is to move toward independence. This issue will be discussed in more depth in Chapter 5.
One final aspect of the international relationships in which China and Taiwan meet was in the claim to the Spratly Islands, once considered a flashpoint in the region. These South Pacific islands are claimed by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia. On November 4, 2002 China and 10 ASEAN nations signed an accord designed to head off any armed conflict in the area.215The fact that China was willing to sign the accord and agree formally to settle the question peacefully may serve as a precedent for the Taiwan issue, although the Taiwan issue is much more complex.
There is hope for an eventual political accommodation between China and Taiwan. The underlying political philosophies of the two sides over time are not so different. Scholars and officials from each side could get together to write an ideology that is acceptable to both sides. It could be based on Sun Yat-sen’s Three People’s Principles, but would have to be expanded. The appeal of such an approach is that the resulting ideology would be native Chinese and not, as currently, a foreign ideology, Marxism-Leninism, adapted to China’s circumstances.
Taiwan’s path to democratization was unique, but since it is the first Chinese democracy in history, some of its milestones and the obstacles that were overcome can serve as lessons for China’s experience. Taiwan’s experience can help us to predict the outcome of China’s movement toward democracy, but it is also necessary to review the Soviet experience to expand our understanding of movement from a communist to democratic political system.
The three most noteworthy aspects of Taiwan’s experience were:
(1) the existence of a senior incumbent leader that would allow and promote democratization; (2) the existence of a solemn cause (Taiwan independence) that could be used to bring together an opposition group; and
(3) the ability of leaders on both sides to develop and institutionalize civilized rules of the political game.
President Chiang Ching-kuo played a pivotal role in the democratization of Taiwan. He had been the key figure in suppressing the Taiwanese people for three decades with an effective Leninist security apparatus that was responsible for what became known as the period of “White Terror.” Chiang had absolute control over all the traditional instruments of power to include all police and intelligence organizations. He was the patriarch of the military’s political commissar system and that system had effective control of the military. He also had complete control over the mass media and all government organizations including the legislative and judicial branches. He also had complete authority over his extremely rich and experienced political party, the KMT.
Although he could have maintained his absolute control for some time, he would have met an increasing amount of resistance and no doubt civil disturbances would have become increasingly violent. Absolute control would have come at considerable cost, but it was possible. The degree to which he was responding to internal or external pressures to democratize versus complying with the democratization demanded by the 1947 Constitution or his own personal vision of Taiwan’s future is not clear. In this case the “why” is not even important. What is important is that he made the personal decision to pave the way for democratization and took the difficult steps to allow it.
Although there were those within the government who would have wished to continue KMT absolute control into the future, because he was such a strong and respected leader he was able to make the turn to democracy. Everyone in Taiwan, except some students, intellectuals, and dangwai politicians deferred to his wishes. Not only was Chiang in control he was extremely clever in selecting a successor who could finish the job of democratizing; Lee Tenghui. But the key for purposes of this study is that it took a single individual with near absolute power at the apex of the political hierarchy to get the job done. In the Soviet Union it also took a powerful senior leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, to move the democratization process ahead. In the Russian case Gorbachev did not have as complete control as Chiang did and the result was a process that was very messy.
China had two individuals who might have led the movement to democratization, Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang, but they did not have sufficient control at the top and they could not defeat the conservatives or those who move at a slower more controlled pace. If this analysis is correct, it will take another strong leader in the future to move China ahead in the process. The Communist Party of China has such complete control over the military and police organizations and the experience in using them, that a revolution from below like Poland or Romania is extremely unlikely. A revolution from below came as close as is likely at Tiananmen and that wasn’t really very close.
The second aspect that contributed to Taiwan’s success was the presence of a life or death cause that could be the basis for an opposition party. The cause had to be sufficiently serious to motivate individuals to sacrifice their own lives by going to jail or into exile. Some were even prepared to die for the cause. The cause also had to be a concept that could mobilize large numbers against the government in control. It could not have been an issue that could be co- opted by the government. That cause in Taiwan was “Taiwan for the Taiwanese.” It was based on ethnicity and perceptions of being exploited by outsiders or carpetbaggers.
The cause could not be based upon simply an anti-government or anti-Kuomintang (KMT) sentiment. The KMT had been very successful in many areas, especially the economy. People’s lives had improved significantly under the rule of the KMT. The opposition dangwai, which became the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), had to find an issue that appealed to basic emotions. They had the disastrous massacre of Taiwanese on February 28, 1947 as a base and built on that. They were able to show extreme discrimination against local Taiwanese who even slightly disagreed with government policy. They could point out all the human rights abuses of the “White Terror” period in which hundreds of Taiwanese were jailed, killed or exiled. They could also point to ruthless suppression of what they said intended to be peaceful protests in the Kaohsiung and Chungli Incidents. They were able to expose the assassination, by thugs hired by a government intelligence agency, of a journalist, Henry Liu, who had written an unfavorable biography of Chiang Ching-kuo under the name of Chiang Nan. They also capitalized on the murder of two nine-year old daughters of a prominent opposition leader, Lin Yi-hsiung, when they were under the protection of the police.
All of these events, and several others, allowed the opposition to make the case that the KMT were ruthless outsiders bent on suppressing the ethnic Taiwanese. Chiang Ching-kuo recognized the potential damage this appeal could cause and began to “Taiwanize” the KMT by bringing more native Taiwanese into the party and by appointing native Taiwanese to key government, party and military positions. But he was too late. The cause was already a reality and could be used, and even twisted or exaggerated, by opposition forces.
This approach to democratization is not possible in China. There is no equivalent ethnic or emotional cause that can be used against the Communist Party. An anti-communist theme is not enough just as anti-KMT was not enough in Taiwan. If there is to be democratization in China the process will have to be different. It is more likely to be similar to, but not the same as, the Soviet experience. The unsuccessful general political reform approach of Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang of first containing the power of the party organization and developing checks and balances within party and government organizations will have to be improved upon. It will have to be a gradual democratization defined by increased pluralization at the top of the political system rather than a challenge by an opposition from below. Since Tiananmen there has been little progress in developing such a process. But as increasingly well-educated and cosmopolitan leaders emerge it quite likely that in twenty or thirty years the process will be renewed. The final outcome willprobably not be a liberal democratic system like those of the West, but will be “democracy underChinese conditions.” Such a democracy will probably be acceptable to the Taiwanese if the economic advantages are great and the degree of autonomy is high.
Taiwan’s current insistence on China’s democratization is not without reason. China’s communist system has shown repeatedly that it cannot cope with the succession issue. The result of this is that even the most important policies can change overnight. A moderate policy toward Taiwan one day could be very harsh the next day. Tolerance and autonomy could be high one day and gone the next. Taiwan will have to see a form of democracy that appears to be a lasting one and is based on law not on personalities or Party dictate.
The final aspect of Taiwan’s democratization is the major step of developing a system that can have political groups in opposition that can agree to disagree and follow peaceful rules of interaction. We noted above that this behavior was common to both Taiwan and the Soviet Union. Elements of the opposition in Taiwan at first refused to play by constitutional rules because they had no hope of succeeding. The Taiwan Independence Movement, mostly overseas, resorted to bombings and attempts at assassination. Inside Taiwan there were those who insisted on street demonstrations, even if they led to violence, rather than using the electoral process to prevail. Ultimately, those who promoted using the electoral process prevailed and democratization was relatively peaceful. Those who wanted demonstrations and violence also contributed, however, in that they previewed what may happen if there were no political change. We noted that in the Soviet Union also there was a point at which the opposition elected to play by the rules. One fortunate phenomenon, which exists in all three countries, was a very strong military ethic to not meddle in political life. Ironically, that is one of the positive features of the Leninist organizational system.
Developing an opposition is one aspect that Chinese leaders seem to have no clue about. So far the pattern has been to purge all opposition if it gets too strong or goes against conventional ideological wisdom. The elitist notion of “one center” has prevailed. There is little indication that any of the Chinese leaders are seeking or even discussing ways to “agree to disagree.” One side wins and the other loses – it has been a zero-sum game among contending factions. There is some evidence in the bureaucratic negotiation process between political organizations that the basis for some rules exists, but as long as the principle of democratic centralism allows total party control it will always be a complete one-sided process.
This is perhaps the aspect that is most watched by the political leaders in Taiwan as a measure of democratization. They are not so concerned with the sham elections in China or even the liberalizing of the media, which so far has always been temporary and part of a loosening cycle. While outsiders, like the Carter Center, focus on elections and electoral reform, the leaders in Taiwan understand from experience how those elections are manipulated.
The central question of whether China will democratize or become a nation of law enough to satisfy the citizens of Taiwan is an open question. There is no doubt that there is already some evolution toward democracy in China. While some of the traditional indicators of democratic evolution, like elections, media checks and balances, development of an opposition, the protection of individual rights, and the relinquishing of single Party power have shown little or no movement, other less obvious indicators have emerged and continue to mature, albeit very slowly. There has been a development of active political participation by most citizens, a progression from total authority in one individual to small group consensus and on to the beginnings of organizational checks and balances. Structures and processes have emerged for an eventual fragmentation within the Communist Party that could eventually develop into an opposition party. Whether comparing the three main milestones that occurred in Taiwan or the eleven that took place in the Soviet Union, it is clear that China has experienced some movement, but still has a long way to go.
Even if China's movement toward democracy were viewed as acceptable to the Taiwanese, one political promise that would still make little sense to the Taiwanese at this time is the degree of autonomy that would be allowed in Taiwan. The promise to place a representative from Taiwan high in the PRC government, even the vice-presidency, falls on deaf ears. Past promises of allowing Taiwan to maintain its own military, foreign service and judicial system also ring hollow because there is no trust and no law to assure a continuation of policies. China has vacillated between policies too often in the past. It will take a democratic system that shows it is willing to work within the rules of its own constitution, over time, to convince the Taiwanese that taking a chance might be worthwhile. The Taiwanese watch events and demonstrations in Hong Kong as a measure of how China can be trusted to perform.
We can conclude then that the political factor still works against any accommodation between China and Taiwan. In fact, it continues to push the two sides apart. But we can also conclude that there is hope because we can see a number of political activities and trends that are laying the groundwork for a democratization of China that would be acceptable to the Taiwanese. It would not be a liberal democracy like those of the West. It would be based on Chinese political and historical philosophies rather than the western liberal tradition. Human rights based upon collective or group rights rather than individual rights would probably be acceptable to the Taiwanese in a compromise. It may even be in finding a new "Chinese" formula for the mixture between democracy and the rule of law.216Eventually, as larger numbers of more educated and cosmopolitan youths mature they will be able to produce an enlightened leader and influence the system to democratize. Many of these youths are working their way up through the economic system rather than the political system. At some point, in twenty or thirty years, they will transfer laterally into political system and insist on change.
These youths are learning the value of the rule of law, cooperation and negotiation, compromise and generally establishing and playing by solid and lasting rules of the game.
62 The distinction between democracy and rule of law is explained in a seminal article by Wei Pan, a 1996 Ph.D. graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, who is now an associate professor of political science at the School of International Studies, Beijing University. See: Wei Pan, "Toward a Consultative Rule of Law Regime in China," Journal of Contemporary China, Vol. 12, No. 34, Feb. 2003, pp. 3-43. This optimistic article by a political scientist is tempered in a critique by a legal scholar in the same journal: Randall Peerenboom, "A Government of Laws: democracy, rule of law and administrative law reform in the PRC," Journal of Contemporary China, Vol. 12, No. 34, Feb. 2003, pp. 45-67.
63 This demand was made formal at the KMT run twelfth national congress in April 1981. See Mainland Affairs Council, White Paper on Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, July 1994. The demand was reiterated by President Lee Tenghui (May 1990 inaugural address) but President Chen Shui-bian has avoided this demand focusing instead on Taiwan’s status in negotiations.
64 Baogang He, “New Moral Foundations of Chinese Democratic Design” in Zhao Suisheng (ed.), China and Democracy: Reconsidering the Prospects for a Democratic China (New York: Routledge, 2000), pp. 107.
65 Suisheng Zhao, “A Tragedy of History: China’s Search for Democracy in the Twentieth Century,” in Suisheng Zhao (ed.)
China and Democracy (New York: Routledge, 2000), p. 42.
67 See articles by Suisheng Zhao, Shaohua Hu, Baogang He and Yijiang Ding in Zhao, op. cit. Also see Wei Pan, op. cit.
68 The substance of early discourses can be found in classical translated works to include: James Legge (trans.), The Chinese Classics (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1960-1961); Burton Watson (trans.), Ssu-Ma Chien – Records of the Grand Historian of China (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961); Herlee G. Creel, Chinese Thought from Confucius to Mao Tsetung (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960); Theodore William De Bary, Wing-tsit Chan and Burton Watson, Sources of Chinese Tradition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1960) and Étienne Balazs, Chinese Civilization and Bureaucracy (Translated by H. M. Wright and A.F. Wright), (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964); Derk Bodde (Trans.), Fung Yu-lan -- A History of Chinese Philosophy (2 volumes), (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1953-1953); and J.J.L. Duyvendak (Trans.), The Book of Lord Shang (London: Probsthain, 1928). Also see Enbao Wang and Regina F. Titunik “Democracy in China: The Theory and Practice of Minben” in Zhao,op. cit., pp. 73-88.
69 Andrew Nathan, China’s Transition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), pp. 63-76.
70 Samuel P. Huntington, The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991).
71 For a detailed description of China’s view of its own human rights record see: Fifty Years of Progress in China’s Human Rights. 2000. Information Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. Available at: http://www.china.org.cn/e-white/3/index.htm (accessed 28 July 2015) and “Progress in China’s Human Rights Cause in 2000. 2001. Information Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. Available at: http://www.china.org.cn/e- white/2000renquan/index.htm (accessed 28 July 2015).
72 The Magna Carta was motivated by conflict between barons and the King in a feudal system. It was meant to protect the barons from the King's abuse of power, but some of the language in it was used to justify key rights in later documents like the Bill of Rights of 1689, to protect against power abuse. Interestingly, the Magna Carta was initially written in Latin and brokered by a representative of the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The nation state had not been born and the King's authority was at the behest of the Pope.
73 Shaohua Hu “Confucianism and Western Democracy” in Zhao, op. cit., pp. 55-72.
74 The UN has achieved progress in protecting the rights of humans against genocide, slavery and racial discrimination. It has also supported prevention of mistreatment of women, children, migrant workers, refugees, stateless persons and disabled persons. These all protect categories or groups, not individuals. The only two exceptions are: providing individuals the right to petition to the UN and the abolishment of the death penalty.
75 Adam Roberts and Benedict Kingsbury, United Nations: Divided World (Oxford: Clarenden Press, 1989), p.100.
76 Shao-hua Hu, “Confucianism and Western Democracy,” in Zhao, op. cit., p. 69.
79 Quoted by Yijiang Ding, “The Conceptual Evolution of Democracy,” in Ibid., p. 112.
80 Shaohua Hu, “Confucianism and Western Democracy,” in Ibid., p. 58.
82 Some exceptions are pointed out by Baogang He who claims Chinese liberal thinking includes great concern for the individual. This is probably not a consensus in Chinese liberal thinking. See Baogang He, “New Moral Foundations of Chinese Democratic Design,” in Ibid., p. 94
88 A much more sophisticated discussion of these two ideas is contained in Wei Pan, op. cit. He arguesthat elections go with democracy and that checks and balances go with the rule of law, and that they are separate and distinct.
89 Shelley Rigger, Politics in Taiwan: Voting for Democracy (New York: Routledge, 1999), p. 18. Alsosee. Linda Chao and Ramon Myers, The First Chinese Democracy: Political Life in the Republic of China on Taiwan (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998), pp. 43 and 60.
90 George H. Kerr, op. cit, Chapter 10. Also see Rigger, op. cit., p. 36-39.
99 Chao and Myers, op. cit., p. 63. Dang wai literally means outside the party.
100 Rigger, op. cit., p. 113. Also see: Tun Jun Cheng and Stephan Haggard, Political Change in Taiwan, (Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner, 1992), p. 123.
101 The Kaohsiung Incident was a demonstration on December 10, 1979 in the southern Taiwan city of Kaohsiung. It was sponsored by the Formosa magazine and turned violent. Forty dissidents were arrested and eight were court-martialed. Rigger, op. cit., p. 221. On April 4, 2003, President Chen Shuibian ordered the declassification of government documents surrounding this incident which, known as the Formosa Incident, is ranked second after the February 28th, 1947 incident in seriousness of oppressing Taiwanese. Information about this incident is available at: http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/events/2007/2/22taiwan/20070222.pdf (accessed 28 July 2015).
102 Self determination was a euphemism for Taiwan Independence because it allowed the activists to stay within the letter of the laws against advocating independence. In the 1990s, as the DPP became stronger and Taiwan became more democratic, the opposition began to use the term Taiwan Independence again.
103 They were (l) the killing of Jiang Nan, a biographer of Chiang Ching-kuo, in Daly City, California on October 15, 1984 by a gang hired by Taiwan’s National Defense Intelligence Bureau and (2) a big business scandal on February 9, 1985 that implicated the KMT with an association that went bankrupt and caused many citizens to lose their savings. See Chao and Myers, op. cit., p. 124 for more details. For a detailed description of the murder of Henry Liu see: David E. Kaplan, Fires of the Dragon (New York: Athenium, 1992). This book, written by a journalist, should be read with some skepticism since it tends to sensationalize and sometimes contains leaps in logic as well as wrong data about organizational relationships and missions, but it does contain many of the facts surrounding the incident.
104 The TIM bombed the homes of KMT families in Taiwan and the United States and in 1970 attempted to assassinate Chiang Ching-kuo in New York City. See Rigger, op. cit., pp. 108-109.
135 A very useful book that discusses China's movement toward democracy, from a slightly different angle, is: Suzanne Ogden, Inklings of Democracy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002). Ogden's book agrees with most of the conclusions reached here and goes into more detail in some aspects.
136 See for example Jiang Zemin’s discussion in his report to the 15th Chinese Communist Party Congress in 1996.
137 For an excellent comparison of China and Taiwan’s democratization process, based on modern political science theories, see: Dickson, op. cit. Also see: Larry Diamond and Ramon H. Myers (eds.), Elections and Democracy in Greater China (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).
138 Richard Madsen, “Understanding Falun Gong,” in Current History, Vol. 99., No. 638, September 2000, pp. 243-247.
139 This is an analytical framework developed in: Richard Baum, Burying Mao: Chinese Politics in the Age of Deng Xiaoping (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), pp. 5-8.
157 Kennedy, John James. "The Face of 'Grassroots Democracy" in Rural China: Real Versus Cosmetic Elections," Asian Survey, Vol. XLII, No. 3, May/June 2002, p. 465.
158 Jean C. Oi and Scott Rozelle, “Elections and Power: The Locus of Decision-Making in Chinese Villages,” in Diamond and Myers, op. cit., p. 168.
159 There are, however, discussions about village elections and movement toward democracy. See: Jamie P. Horsley, "Village Elections: Training Ground for Democracy," China Business Review 28:2 (March-April 2001), pp. 44-52; Henry Rowen, "The Short March: China's Road to Democracy (China as a Democratic State in 2015),"National Interest 45 (Fall 1996), p. 61; Robert A. Pastor and Tan Qingshan, "The Meaning of China's Village Elections," China Quarterly 162 (June 2000), pp. 490- 511 and . Thurston, Anne F. Muddling toward Democracy: Political Change in Grassroots China (Washington D.C.: US Institute of Peace, August 1998).
160 Kevin J. O’Brien and Lianjiang Li, “Accommodating ‘Democracy’ in a One-Party State: Introducing Village Elections in China,” in Diamond and Myers, Ibid., p.101.
168 The question of whether the KMT was Leninist has been debated. Chao and Myers, op. cit., pp. 40-42, claim it was not
really Leninist, but they introduced their own criteria as to what constitutes a Leninist organization. Bruce Dickson, op. cit., makes a case for the KMT being Leninist. My understanding, based on the political techniques used to gain, hold and maintain power, is that it is indeed Leninist. See Bullard, The Soldier and the Citizen, op. cit. , Chapter 4. The Leninist label, however, is not important. What is important is that the design of the party and military structures, as well as the political practices and techniques, in China and Taiwan, were nearly identical until the late 1980s. The substance only was different. In China it was Marxism, Leninism, and Mao Tsetung Thought and in Taiwan in was San Min Zhuyi.
169 I distinguish between cliques, factions and interest groups as follows: Cliques are based on some type of personal relationship. (Former members of the same army unit or generation), Factions are based on having similar attitudes. (conservative or liberal is the most used), and Interest Groups are based on similar organizational interests. (parochial interests - scientists, etc.). Factions are the most important when analyzing the potential development of pluralism or real democracy within the Party
170 This listing was derived from a summary description of the Soviet democratization process in: Carl Linden and Jan S. Prybyla, Russia and China on the Eve of a New Millennium (New Brunswick: Transaction Press, 1997), Chapters 2 and 3.
187 These organizations are often merged or consolidated and names change. For example the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation became the Ministry of Commerce. Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation became the Ministry of Commerce.
188 This project is best explained in Kenneth Lieberthal and Michel Oksenberg, Policy Making in China: Leaders, Structures,
and Processes (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988).
189 See Bullard, China’s Political-Military Evolution, op.cit.
196 Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference: Process of Founding and Key Achievements in History. No date. National People’s Congress. Available at: http://www.china.org.cn/english/27750.htm. (accessed 28 July 2015).
200 For background see: Daniel H. Rosen, “China and the World Trade Organization: An Economic Balance Sheet,” International Economics Policy Briefs, Institute for International Economics, Number 99-6 June 1999. Available at: http://www.iie.com/publications/pb/pb99-6.htm. (accessed 7 August 2015).
201 Harry Harding, A Fragile Relationship: The United States and China since 1972 (Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1992), pp. 198-214.
203 Andrew J. Nathan, “ China and the International Human Rights Regime,” in Elizabeth Economy and Michel Oksenberg,
China Joins the World: Progress and Prospects (New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1999), p. 146.
204 MFN became NTR in 1998. The term “Most Favored Nation” was a misnomer because nearly allcountries in the world enjoyed the status. Only countries like Cuba, North Korea, Libya, etc. were not given the status.
205 Vladimir N. Pregelj, L30225: Most-Favored-Nation Status of the People's Republic of China (Washington D.C.: Congressional Research Service, Updated October 13,2000).
206 Lieberthal, Governing China, op. cit., p. 331.
207 The main events were: US aircraft carriers in the Taiwan Strait in 1996, the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999 and the EP-3 incident in Hainan Island in 2001.
208 John W. Garver, Foreign Relations of the People’s Republic of China (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1993), p. 82. Figures also derived from the “Chronicle and Documents” section of China Quarterly during the period from 1996-2000. The numbers takes into account some countries with which China severed diplomatic relations at one point and then resumed them later. In all cases the rationale for severing relations was that the country tried to establish “dual recognition” with Taiwan and China.
213 Rigger, From Opposition to Power, op. cit., p. 142.
214 Samuel S. Kim, “China and the United Nations,” in Economy and Oksenberg (eds.), op. cit., p. 47.
215 Jim Gomez, “ASEAN, China Sign Landmark Accord”, Associated Press, Nov. 4, 2002.
216 For an insightful vision and blueprint for moving China toward a more acceptable form of democracy and rule of law see Wei Pan, op. cit. pp. 34-43. Wei's solution would quite possibly be acceptable by some Taiwan's leaders.