Had China democratized in 1989, what would the last 30 years have looked like for China?

Linschoten

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
16,168
Welsh Marches
#11
Mostly because the powers of repression struck back very forcibly.

Assad could have negotiated a reform agenda, as was how the Syrian protests started and what they were looking for. He chose to just kill a lot of people instead. That works too, for a certain value of "works"...
I wonder whether in a society like that, the ruler can rightly calculate that his days in power may be numbered if even a measure of reform is allowed? For liberalization is exceedingly hard to control when everything has been previously ordered from above under the threat or exercise of force. So it is not only matter of choosing a course of action that works, but one that will be sure in its results?
 
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Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,387
#12
I wonder whether in a society like that, the ruler can rightly calculate that his days in power may be numbered if even a measure of reform is allowed? For liberalization is exceedingly hard to control when everything has been previously ordered from above under the threat or exercise of force. So it is not only matter of choosing a course of action that works, but one that will be sure in its results?
Yes, that would be the day... Timing is always awfuk. The problem tends to be that things look stable, and look stable, and look stable... and it IS a police state after all, so that's expected... and then suddenly people are in the streets, suddenly aware of their own, relative, strength through safety in numbers – the realization that the police just can't round them all up – and then the chips are down for the rulers. What to do next? And that's a fundamental problem with how revolutionary situations work. They are emergent situations. Consequently no one can get any guaranteed outcomes. Human conditions really, if one likes.

(One of the foreign-correpsondent rule-of-thumb-tests for gauging the situation in a nation is the "BMW test": The scion of some high up politician runs over a kills a child in his BMW. Question: Is the situation such that the authorities can just hush it up, or has society entered a more volatile state, where public anger actually forces the unwilling authorities to punish the reckless driver?)

The historical European experience was a succession of wars and attempted revolutions 1789-1966 – and until then had the powers-that-be concluded that this sequence of revolutions would likely just go on, until successful – and THEN reforms were introduced.

Anyone and everyone can be invited to do obviously better than the Europeans. But that is also a struggle – beginning with attitudes falling somewhere between not being confident in being able to do better, to in fact not really wanting to.

As a complicating factor, in the multilateral international system that was introduce after WWII by the victorious democracies, has meant that all manner of autocrats have tended to profess interest and sympathy in democracy. Some have dissimulated so successfully even their own populations might have been taken in. ("Assad is a British-trained medical professional, surely he must have absorbed the lessons of parliamentary democracy in the British mold?" Etc.) Which lasts until push comes to shove, and they declare their actual colours. (And it is a real problem that major western democracies have been as prepared as they have been to set their ideals aside for reasons of expediencey and trade – with China since 1989, Suadi, etc., etc.)

To some extent recent developments in international politics have meant the anti-democratic alternatives have been directly emboldened. Still more important right now seems to be these new "alternative" forms of "democracy" being proposed. The power of accountable representative government to produce political legitimacy is clearly still a kind of charm in international politics – the objective however is rather to ape the form, but not accept the substance.
 
Likes: Linschoten
Feb 2011
6,428
#13
Ideology for ideology's sake, rather than ideology as a tool for human welfare. It's always the other side with the wrong ideology, always the other side who's brainwashed, always the other side who simply don't care about the people. It's always you who knows better than they, always you who thinks other people should adopt the values you were raised to adopt, always you who are shown the 'correct' information and the 'enemy' are just a brainwashed fanatics. It's exactly the attitude that a brainwashed fanatic would hold. It's a convenient attitude for the world but the actual world is more nuanced than that, and these talks on a high horse will only convince like-minded people. It's not what you want to hear, but it's time to ask if the information you've been fed is even accurate to begin with, time to ask if you've ever been brainwashed yourself. As the world becomes more globalized, it will become more and more obvious how the media had straightout lied over and over and over, especially about states that they don't like. Time to move out of the mental 'comfort zone' and hear news from the other side too, not what was regurgitated/mistranslated/twisted by the information you're used to hearing, but straight from the horse' mouth.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
18,702
SoCal
#14
Ideology for ideology's sake, rather than ideology as a tool for human welfare. It's always the other side with the wrong ideology, always the other side who's brainwashed, always the other side who simply don't care about the people. It's always you who knows better than they, always you who thinks other people should adopt the values you were raised to adopt, always you who are shown the 'correct' information and the 'enemy' are just a brainwashed fanatics. It's exactly the attitude that a brainwashed fanatic would hold. It's a convenient attitude for the world but the actual world is more nuanced than that, and these talks on a high horse will only convince like-minded people. It's not what you want to hear, but it's time to ask if the information you've been fed is even accurate to begin with, time to ask if you've ever been brainwashed yourself. As the world becomes more globalized, it will become more and more obvious how the media had straightout lied over and over and over, especially about states that they don't like. Time to move out of the mental 'comfort zone' and hear news from the other side too, not what was regurgitated/mistranslated/twisted by the information you're used to hearing, but straight from the horse' mouth.
Off-topic, but if you don't mind me asking, are you male or female? I've always thought that you were male, but I'm not actually sure.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
18,702
SoCal
#15
I wonder whether in a society like that, the ruler can rightly calculate that his days in power may be numbered if even a measure of reform is allowed? For liberalization is exceedingly hard to control when everything has been previously ordered from above under the threat or exercise of force. So it is not only matter of choosing a course of action that works, but one that will be sure in its results?
At least a liberal ruler would have more odds of successfully finding exile if/after he is overthrown, no?
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
18,702
SoCal
#16
India is probably still a good comparison during the early 1980s due to similar levels of population. At this time China surpassed India but not by an insurmountable degree and India still had hope of catching up at the time. It's not the same now:



The corruption perception index of both countries are around the same, averaging around 40, which is pretty average globally.

Or you can look at what happened to the Soviet Union under Gorbachev's Demokratizatsiya in terms of policy changes, with Boris Yeltsin winning Russia's first Presidential election in 1991:



Boris resigned in 1999 and named Vladmir Putin as acting president.

Current Russia's Corruption Perception Index is not that great at 28.
Please keep in mind, though, that India might have much lower human capital than China has. It certainly performed much worse than China did on the PISA exam--though I do think that India still has a lot of room for improvement (but I suspect probably not all of the way up to China's level of human capital/average IQ).
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
18,702
SoCal
#17
India lagged behind China because India has too much socialism when compared to China.
That, and India might very well have much lower human capital than China has:

The Puzzle Of Indian IQ: A Country Of Gypsies And Jews

Chinese students in Britain also perform much better than Indian students in Britain (with the gap being smallest in Verbal Reasoning):

Minorities\' Cognitive Performance In The UK



British Indians actually don't perform too bad--performing only slightly worse than British Whites do. However, the Chinese British scores on Quantitative Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning are absolutely through the roof!
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
18,702
SoCal
#18
China shift to democracy would come up with a huge cost, even shift from KMT to communism came with huge economic and human cost. China may have faced acute economic hardship like Russia.
You think that China would have had extremely wealthy oligarchs and robber barons looting its economy?
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
18,702
SoCal
#19
I don’t think a democratic China would’ve been as successful; it might’ve disintegrated into chaos. I’m not a Sinologist but recall hearing that in Chinese history there is either strong leadership or chaos.
Had China democratized in ‘89, it wouldn’t have been possible to maintain the one child policy. It’s also likely Chinese goods wouldn’t have become so competitive since in a democracy the masses would’ve demanded and gotten higher wages.
Is China so overpopulated that it can't sustain a couple hundred million extra people?
 
Feb 2011
6,428
#20
That, and India might very well have much lower human capital than China has:

The Puzzle Of Indian IQ: A Country Of Gypsies And Jews

Chinese students in Britain also perform much better than Indian students in Britain (with the gap being smallest in Verbal Reasoning):

Minorities\' Cognitive Performance In The UK



British Indians actually don't perform too bad--performing only slightly worse than British Whites do. However, the Chinese British scores on Quantitative Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning are absolutely through the roof!
Indians and Chinese are both in the same species. One is not inherently smarter than the other, if there's a difference in human capital then it's mostly or entirely due to human policies which caused that difference. Difference in GDP growth has to be caused by SOMETHING, be it greater OR more efficient investment in technology, trade, infrastructure, human capital, or something else. It doesn't diminish the importance that GDP per capita is still growing at an alarmingly fast rate. Because GDP can't grow out of thin air, it has to be caused by something. You can't just say "I'm a democracy now, so GDP should start soaring". You still have to implement policies which affect those factors which cause a rise in GDP. Albeit I admit that Chinese literacy surpassed Indian literacy in around 1960 and not 1989, but for both periods Chinese human capital should be behind that of Russia, yet Russia still didn't do very well when it tried democracy. A common saying during its vast decline in life expectancy and GDP was: "They lied to us about communism, but everything they told us about capitalism was true". It was thanks to Gorbachev, however well meaning, that Russia devolved into a state in which oligarchs and robber barons looted its economy. Chinese average household income increased exponentially during that same time period, so the average Chinese was reaping the benefits of rising Chinese GDP, whereas in some countries GDP growth is fueled completely by the rise in income of the top 1%:



Albeit inequality tend to be increasing across the board but remained stable in recent years:


Btw Demokratizatsiya was implemented in Russia in 1987 and its first nationwide democratic election for president was 1991. At the same time GDP and life expectancy dropped like a rock while inequality skyrocketed. The best way for democratic states to display a genuine interest of China adopting democracy is as so: promise to use their own resources to bail China out 100% (including opportunity cost) should Chinese policy change cause the economy to fall in any way whatsoever, considering nobody did so for the Soviet Union. But such promises will never come because it's not the same when one's own country have to shoulder the risk of poor advice, it's only an acceptable risk when other countries, especially those that are seen as 'competitors', have to shoulder it.
As for overpopulation, you can either criticize China for pollution or criticize China for the One Child Policy. Criticizing China for both means you're telling them to live like cavemen. At the current rate China cannot sustain the population it has now, its rivers are drying up as we speak. Farmers who used to rely on irrigation must now rely on 'heaven' (rainfall). It was seen as a major concession that China sacrificed its agricultural industry in order to join the WTO. But in retrospect it's probably an unintentionally good thing. Agriculture takes up a lot of water. India is also suffering from the same water shortage problem.

Also if you want to see just how badly the mainstream media mistranslates things, here's an example. It's by far from the only example I've experienced:
That's the downside of learning a foreign language and living your life in a foreign country. The amount of times you go 'what the heck' in terms of mistranslations or out-of-context descriptions skyrocket. What's seen and heard cannot be unseen, ignorance is bliss.
 
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