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Towards "democracy of the twenty-first century" ──discussion on China's road of political reform: optimization, innovation and beyond (I)
By Zhongjia Pang    Final revision and English translation by Sheng-Wei Wang
October 1, 2010







I. Some aspects of China’s political reform


1. China’s political reform with the long-term goal of achieving democratization has arrived


2. Is China’s political reform too difficult, too complicated?


3. China needs to learn from Western experience, but there is no need to copy exactly the traditional political system of the West


II. New thinking on modern democracy


1. Basic principle of “majority rule” in the traditional democratic politics faces challenges


(1)  Trend of “non-group” societies of the information age


(2) Decision-making crisis of a new generation in an old system


(3) New bicameral system to improve the efficiency and quality of decision-making


2. Question the multi-party competition and the traditional system of direct general election of the West


3. “Virtuous and worthy people should be elected”---advocacy and ideals of Confucius and Plato


III. Discussion on China’s road of political reform with Chinese characteristics: optimization, innovation and beyond


1. Constructing a new mechanism of checks and balances---Assessment and Supervisory Council (ASC) 


(1) Basic nature and composition of the ASC


(2) Outline of the ASC operation and functionality


(3) Transforming the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference into the ASC that has the function of checks and balances


2. Perfecting the cadre selection and appointment system by “electing virtuous and worthy people” and introducing the “referendum confirmation”


(1) Direct election


(2) Indirect election, referendum confirmation


(3) Opinion polls can play an integral role in supportive guidance


3. Transformation of political party nature 


(1) In the historical long journey of inevitably withering away after ending their own missions, the political parties must adjust their own nature and functions


(2) Can China avoid the risk and flip-flop from a “one-party system” to a “multi-party system” and then to a “non-party system”?


(3) A wise political party can eventually turn into a university for recommending talents and a think tank for government policy research serving the role as a non-intervening Government Maker






The first draft of this article was published on July 19, 2003, by www.xslx.com. In the seven years since then, the world situation has evolved; in particular, the development and change of China and the international situation after the outbreak of the current round of financial crisis indicate that the content of this article is still relevant and remains forward-looking. The text has been revised and is being republished here for our readers from many backgrounds and with common interests to exchange views.




I. Some aspects of China’s political reform


1. China’s political reform with the long-term goal of achieving democratization has arrived


The new policy of reform and opening up of China, centered on economic development in the post Cultural Revolution period, has created an unprecedented period of development with people’s livelihood substantially improved and national strength rapidly increased; the society is vibrant and full of hope. Entering into the third quarter of this year, China has become the world’s second largest economy only next to the United States.


Economic development needs a supporting political system to operate together hand in hand. On August 20 this year, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, while on a field trip to Shenzhen, made a special statement by saying that we “not only want to promote economic reform, but also want to promote political reform. Without the guarantee of political reform, the achievement of economic reform will be lost after gaining ground and the goal of modernization will not be achievable.”


Judged by the classical theory of Marxism on the political superstructure that must be compatible with the economic base, the urgency of China’s political reform has already become a consensus of the government and the people having insight. Without it, how can the economic reform continue to be deepened to construct a great and first-rank innovative country?  How can the rampant “absolute corruption” be eliminated? How can the worsening challenges due to social conflicts and the associated bottleneck effects be dealt with? And how can we sincerely implement the practice of party power for the public good and party governance for the benefit of the people in order to maintain the legitimacy of the ruling party? 


What is the solution? Mao Zedong in Yan’an said clearly: It is the big word “democracy”.  “Without democracy, there will be no socialism and no socialist modernization” (speech by Hu Jintao, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee on Dec. 18, 2008).


The Great Proletarian Democracy tried by Mao Zedong was a misunderstanding of democracy and proved an extremely horrific disaster. It is no longer feasible.


Recently, China has continuously intensified efforts against corruption and implemented political reform, but has mostly emphasized institutional reform at the administrative level and rarely involved democratization and balance of power. What China needs is a republican connotation, namely a democratic construction supported by balance of power.


Many people think that, taking the traditional democratic political system of the West as an example, the effectiveness of multi-party competition, general election, dual parliamentary system and separation of the executive, legislative and judicial powers, etc., has long been proven by the practice of the modern developed societies that lead the world trend; so, apart from copying that system, there is no alternative. In fact, this is a preconceived and specious stereotypical concept. Based on the changing characteristics of the times and differences in the conditions and background of the country, the reform of China’s political system, in the spirit of keeping up with the times, should have its own road of optimization, innovation and further progress.


In addition to repeatedly displaying their determination on political reform, the Chinese communist leaders explicitly oppose copying the multi-party competition, general election, dual parliamentary system, separation of the executive, legislative and judicial powers, etc. of the traditional system of the West. They stress that stability overrides everything, “There is absolutely no need to rush out changes”, and intend to steadily find the way with its own characteristics, which is suitable for China’s situation. But until now, apart from the initial success of direct election at the village level, there has been no introduction of a systematic program and timetable to make people feel relieved. A number of initial improvement measures such as “separation of the functions of the party from those of the government” and “separation of the functions of the government from those of enterprises” also find difficulties in implementation. Everything seems to have to wait and start slowly from discussing and implementing the “strengthening of inner-party democracy”.


Reform and opening up have lasted for more than thirty years. Waiting does not warrant any outcome. It is already difficult to explain away the causes of no political reform as due to difficulties and urgencies of the economic reform and the construction task. Since there is no rain after lasting thunders, in the long run, internal and external credit crises are bound to occur, followed by a vicious feedback. Among all issues, is political reform not the biggest one?


Since there must be reform, why keep delaying it? Just as Deng Xiaoping said on September 3, 1986, to visiting Japanese guests that “This issue is too difficult, too complicated; exactly where the starting point should be, we have not made up our mind”. Until today, no decision appears to have been reached.


2. Is China’s political reform too difficult, too complicated?


Let us try to understand what is too difficult, too complicated. First, for a few thousand years in China, suppressing and eliminating “self awareness” has been taken for granted as the fundamental values. As a result, the society has been caught in a seriously distorted state against humanity. This is very different from the advocacy of Marxism: “The free development of each is the condition for the free development of all” (“Manifesto of the Communist Party”). The society lacks a social ideology (ideological belief system) that is based on individuals and goes beyond self-interest to promote an altruistic spirit; namely it lacks a force that shapes up the morality and culture of combining self-interest and public spirit (love) and tunes them into complementarity with each other. Such deficiency in the deep cultural background is abhorrent with the general direction of democratic progress of the modern society, which is based on the pursuit of individual liberation. This condition has decided that the political reform of democratization in China must be cautious and move forward slowly in order to have enough time and space to match and keep up with the beat of the construction of an advanced culture. Otherwise any hasty reform process will only destroy the stability without achieving the purpose.


The democratization processes in many developing countries have repeated over and over again with endless frustration, without much success, and have even been counterproductive. Much of this is closely related to the unmatched social ideologies or base of ideas and beliefs. However, being cautious and making progress slowly is not equivalent to doing nothing. Currently what the whole nation and the entire world are waiting for is absolutely not the unrealistic “big leap” into democratization; instead, it is the good news of finally embarking on an undertaking by real action. Even a publicly announced preparatory start is sufficient to show good faith and create expectations.


Next, China does not possess an organizational foundation to implement the traditional party competition of the West. On March 30, 1979, Deng Xiaoping in a speech entitled “Insisting on the Four Cardinal Principles” said: “In China, sixty years since the May Fourth Movement, apart from the Communist Party of China there exists no other party, of the type once described by Lenin, that ties the broad masses together. “ Thirty some years later in the mainland of China, apart from the CPC there still does not exist another party that can let the whole nation sustain all their hopes for the future. Although this political situation of irreplaceability is caused in part by the tight political control, after all, it is also the real situation. If you are asked to weaken or abolish the leadership of the Communist Party, in fact the result will only lead to anarchy, or the four modernizations are totally destroyed, or the whole country can even reproduce the chaos of a full civil war. This sort of estimate is not alarmist talk.


3. China needs to learn from Western experience, but there is no need to copy exactly the traditional political system of the West


Democracy shares some common basic principles, but the choice for its organizational structure is not only in one form; it must be in accordance with local conditions and progress with the times. The public opinion in the West often regards the traditional organizational structure of the West as the only model of democracy. This is in fact a kind of dogmatism. It not only has been questioned by the practice, but also is helpless in creating democratic mechanisms for the international community. The fact is that there are many differences in the Western models of democracy. Macroscopically speaking, the Rhine capitalism (an economic model that emphasizes efficiency, fairness and the role of the market in the economy, and places more emphasis on an equitable distribution of wealth among all sectors of the society) of the European continent and the Anglo-Saxon capitalism (a free-market economic model that stresses market, free competition and privatization) of the United Kingdom and the United States have many differences in their pursuit of fairness and freedom. Regarding the major process of general elections, the French do not follow the U.S. electoral system, since such a system often results in the absurd result that the elected received fewer votes than the losers. The United Kingdom still retains a constitutional monarchy, which seems inconsistent with the principle that “All men should have equal rights”. The world is pluralistic and diverse. The model for democratic politics should also inevitably be pluralistic and diverse.


It is not only because the backgrounds of national conditions are different, but also because it is particularly important to know that the historical limitations and inherent shortcomings of the traditional democratic systems of the West are becoming exposed. Theses systems were shaped in general at the juncture of the first and the second “waves” when the transformation from the agricultural society (the first wave) into the industrial society (the second wave) took place. Of course, these democratic systems deserved much credit and they still operate effectively at present. But eventually they will become outdated, no longer progressive, and become the old “relations of production” (In Marxist theory, the “relation of production” means the social structure that regulates the relations between humans in the production of goods; it refers to all kinds of social and technical interconnections between humans involved in the social production and reproduction of material life. The relation of production should be coordinated with the productivity of the society properly to reach a harmonic status). They will become the political superstructures that hinder social progress. Currently, not only is the Western world facing a crisis of confidence, but also the traditional decision-making mechanism of the democratic politics is shaky, problematic, and basically inefficient. Without reform, there is no way to face the severe challenges of the new times of globalization and information technologies.


In the early eighties, the American futurist Alvin Toffler in The Third Wave pointed out that the current decision-making system, which had been followed for two hundred years in the industrial age, was becoming outdated. He also made the proposal on the reform of the democratic political system in the era of globalization and informatization. His predictions are certainly coming as truth.


To the founding fathers of the United States Toffler claimed that “I want to thank you, the revolutionary dead, for having made it possible for me a half-century of life as an American under a government of laws, not men, and particularly for that precious Bill of Rights, which has made it possible for me to think, to express unpopular views, however foolish or mistaken at times—indeed, to write what follows without fear of suppression”.


“...For what I now must write can all too easily be misunderstood by my contemporaries. Some will no doubt regard it as seditious. Yet it is a painful truth I believe you would have quickly grasped. For the system of government you fashioned, including the very principles on which you based it, is increasingly obsolete, and hence increasingly, if inadvertently, oppressive and dangerous to our welfare. It must be radically changed and a new system of government invented---a democracy for the twenty-first century”.


“...Not in a spirit of anger or dogmatism, not in a sudden impulsive spasm, but through the widest consultation and peaceful public participation, we need to join together to reconstitute America”.


He added: “In short, much of the unwieldy and increasingly unworkable apparatus of supposedly representative governments…demand for restructuring. All these structures will have to be fundamentally altered, not because they are inherently evil, nor even because they are controlled by this or that class or group, but because they are increasingly unworkable---no longer fitted to the needs of a radically changed world”.


“This task will involve multimillions of people. If radical overhaul is rigidly resisted it may well trigger bloodshed. How peaceful the process turns out to be will depend on many factors, therefore---on how flexible or intransigent that existing elites prove to be, on whether the change is accelerated by economic collapse, on whether or not external and military interventions occur. Clearly the risks are great”.


“Yet the risks of not overhauling our political institution are even greater, and the sooner we begin, the safer”.


The knowledge-based economy and globalization features created by the information revolution as well as the deepening crisis of belief, etc. are quite different from the background of the times of the traditional industrial society. They are just expediting a new form of political culture.


The CPC has repeatedly stressed not to engage in a multi-party system, parliamentary system, separation of the executive, legislative and judicial powers and direct general election system of the West. Of course, opposition factions can easily criticize this as an excuse to resist the democratic reform. In fact, from the above discussion we can see that the road to democratization of the mainland of China admittedly needs to seriously summarize and learn from Western experience. But there is no need to exactly copy the traditional system of the West.


The world needs to weed through the old to bring forth the new, implement different models and develop together. The clever Chinese people should give their imagination free rein, make use of new concepts and surmount the traditional methods which, though effectively implemented in the West, are however old and faded, and belong to the historical realm of the “second wave”. China should start from the current Chinese-style political system of socialism to walk in steady steps, progress slowly and make the best use of the Golden Mean of “not being excessive or inadequate”. China should combine her own characteristics. This includes summarizing comprehensively the extremely rich historical experience and absorbing the beneficial ingredients of the decades of practice of socialism for the sake of seeking creatively a forward-looking new way that is more in line with modern civilization needs. China should follow the smoothest way that produces minimal loss and best satisfies all parties in order to develop a more effective, perfect, and advanced new stage of democratic politics. This is Alvin Toffler’s vision of the “democracy of the twenty-first century”.


Political democratization is just like the same proposition of modernization. It cannot avoid learning from the West. Today almost all the modern civilization that the Chinese people enjoy---from clothing, food, architecture, transportation, language, lighting, communication, audio and video, entertainment, computer, network, environmental protection, to education, economy, finance, military, business administration and political system---are filled with the fruits of Western civilization. In particular, the scientific and technological contents can be said to derive entirely from the West. Political democratization is “Mr. D” (democracy), and advanced science and technology is “Mr. S” (science). Both are major achievements and the strongest concepts that the Western world contributed to the mankind. The progressive and modern civilization of the West has overstepped the original scope of ethnic and national boundaries and become the common wealth of all mankind.


China’s political reform of democratization should establish a spirit of optimism of self-confidence. The Chinese people should take the initiative, stay modest and open-minded, and understand that knowing shame is akin to courage. They should not be afraid of embarrassment by taking the successful experience of the West as mentor and should honestly work at it with great effort. The Japanese people openly proposed to “establish a new, European-style empire on the edge of Asia”, but did not ruin the Japanese culture. “Never copy the model of the Western political system” is by no means equivalent to not absorbing the reasonable elements of Western political civilization or not learning from the useful achievements of the human political civilization. Why not just be a little smarter, learn better, do better or even grasp the current situation and opportunity by making full use of the advantages? Why not dare to embark on Chinese people’s own path that is creative and advanced?


The challenges that Western democracies are facing and their responses provide an excellent reference and opportunity for China’s political reform of democratization, which is waiting for the right time to take off.


Take the experience of China’s electronics industry as an example. In the late 1950s the Western world had ended the long journey of the electronic vacuum-tube technology and was reborn by steering toward the advanced technology of transistors. Since China had a late start, it rightly seized the opportunity, bypassed the old road of the vacuum-tube technology that was being phased out and entered directly into the transistor era.


Since reform and opening up, the CPC repeatedly emancipated the mind, broke through closed areas, step by step expanded the economic liberalization and diversified the economic structures, which resulted in a political situation with relatively relaxed and active thinking. Objectively speaking, it has entered the preparation period of political reform of democratization. History is demonstrating a very favorable opportunity only once in a thousand years in the human experimental testing ground of China. It requires that the decision-making class together with the people apply collective wisdom, be good at summing up experience and make full use of their spiritual creativity. They should identify a practical start for their reform program according to the country’s specific condition and take the decisive step without letting the opportunity slip. They should not, under the anxious expectations of the whole country and the world, let time go by. As their “relation of production” becomes increasingly incompatible with productivity, this will lead to intensified social conflicts and make China fall into an untenable crisis in its best period in history.


II. New thinking on democracy


In recent years, in the big worldwide discussions related to the third way, the British social democrat Anthony Giddens (1938-) in The Third Way and Its Critics (the Central Party School Press has published the Chinese-translated version) has proposed six principles of the third way, which mark the further development of the evolution of the Left. These six principles are:


(1) Transcend the old thinking of left/right division;


(2) Effectively balance the state, market and civil society;


(3) Establish a new social contract of balanced responsibilities and rights;


(4) Develop a wide range of policies of supply-side economics so that the economic growth and the structural reform of the welfare state are in step;


(5) Unify the principles of equality and social diversity;


(6) Attach importance to globalization.


Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, European Commission President Romano Prodi, Brazil President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and others have given high ratings to the ideas and analysis in Giddens’ book. Blair believed that currently there exists a global exploration on the new applicability of the value of progressivism. The debate on the third way is essential to the politics of the 21st century. Prodi said that we need new thinking on democracy and economic development.


Strictly speaking, today, there objectively exists no reform plan that is ideal and readily usable. Currently, the primary task of China’s political reform of democratization should base on its own characteristics under the premise of stabilizing the overall situation and maintaining the momentum of economic progress to avoid following the beaten track; do new things in new ways; be good at following the optimized approach of “Golden Mean” and take the minimum political and economic risks to find China’s own creative path. In other words, apart from the traditional system that becomes almost synonymous in classic democratic politics with multi-party competition, direct general election, dual parliamentary system and separation of the executive, legislative and judicial powers, are there actually no clever new measures that can be found? This question looms large. It not only comes from China, but is also a difficult common problem for all developing countries that pursue their modernization. And is this not also true for the developed countries themselves?


1. Basic principle of “majority rule” in the traditional democratic politics faces challenges


(1)  Trend of “non-group” societies of the information age


Multiculturalism in the information age challenges the traditional basic principle of democratic politics such as “the minority should submit to the majority” or “majority rule”. The civilization of “non-groups” (large groups that disperse into many unstable and small overlapping minority factions) is just emerging. We can no longer explain the social composition of today’s United States, China or many countries in the world using the over-simplified classifications like “the poor”, “the rich”, “ the proletariat”, “the  bourgeois”, “the workers, peasants, merchants, scholars and soldiers” or other old thinking of the left/right differentiation. The United States Constitution stipulates that it is a nation of “the people, by the people, and for the people”. But who represents the people? It is the white Anglo-Saxon protestants (WASPs), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People,  groups that defend the interests of AIDS patients, groups against genetic engineering of food, feminists, homosexuals, civil rights organizations, the Ivy League, Mexican immigrants, Asian Pacific Americans, Native Americans, trailer mobile home owners, weekend adventurers, computer programmers, the United Auto Workers, the American Federation of Government Employees, the media industry, the Hollywood people, the food and beverage industry, the medical industry, the energy sector, environmental activists, investment funds managers, Wall Street analysts, short-term traders, the newly rich in the new economy of high-tech enterprises, law firms, retirees, farmers, homeless people, motorcycle enthusiasts… This is a community composed of tens of thousands of interest groups of minorities. Among them, many are groups with both positive and negative strong beliefs which are interlaced and rapidly changing on sensitive issues such as abortion, guns, nuclear power, outsourcing and open pit mining…; in the consumption area, a trend of customization is growing. On many important issues, it is almost always difficult to get more than 51% agreement. Differences within each constituency are so large, the representatives created by the old methods have more and more difficulty speaking for the general view, whether it exists or not.


The basic universal will, of course, still exists. The most important issue undoubtedly rests, within the bounds of “humanity and nature”, on the basic axioms of common sense that are held true by everybody as well as the resultant guiding principles of ethics. In order to maintain these necessary guiding principles, “the minority should submit to the majority” is still the most fair and effective procedure. But in dealing with disputes that involve a large number of specific interests, the so-called universal will may serve as deceptive talk. “The minority should submit to the majority” principle long considered natural and applicable to all circumstances has gradually become untimely.


Since ancient times, the poor are often the majority. People often regard acting on behalf of the poor as carrying out justice. Therefore progressive social scholars all oppose the dictatorship of the minority over the majority. However, in many of today’s developed or relatively developed countries, the real number of the poor does not necessarily give them a demographic advantage and they can even become a minority. So who will speak for them? In other words, in this highly differentiated and complex society of “non-groups”, we are all members of a certain minority group. Upholding the traditional principles of “the minority should submit to the majority”, in reality, is often the minority using the name of the majority to implement a totalitarian dictatorship over other minorities. Therefore only emphasizing the majority rule may not always meet the requirement of humanity and democracy. The legitimacy of the democratic government established on this base will also become problematic.


If we visit the U.S. Capitol with such a new concept, even while struck with awe by its solemn atmosphere, it is not difficult to get a slow and outdated feeling of coming apart with the times. Future historians will look back at the decision-making system of this era, which is decided by the majority vote, and may regard it as a primitive and coarse ancient ritual.


The social composition of non-groups becoming more differentiated and complex is the emerging “relation of production” that happens inevitably under the trend of personal liberation and diversity of a modern and open society when the human world enters into the information age. A number of authoritarian political systems have tried to inhibit its happening. As a result, they hindered the development of productivity and intensified the conflict between the minority groups and, thereby, became the root causes of social unrest and violent acts. The result of no coordination makes it harder to form a unified majority opinion.


Do not think that kaleidoscope-like differences would undermine the stability and unity, exactly the opposite. Someone has drawn a simple and vivid analogy: If one hundred people desperately want to get the same opportunity to make a fortune, they may have to eliminate each other to reach it; but if each of these 100 people has a different goal, they can trade, cooperate and constitute a symbiotic relationship; this will bring more benefits to them. If there are appropriate management measures, such differences will help to create a new age of civilization that is safe, stable, progressive, developed, rich and colorful.


The “majority dictatorship” pattern caused by the current traditional model of representative democracy of majority vote is becoming stale and useless. It can no longer adjust to the dramatically changed situation in the information age. It is gradually becoming an outdated relation of production that is harmful to interpersonal harmony of the society; it suppresses the spiritual creativity and hinders social progress.


(2) Decision-making crisis of a new generation in an old system


The current systems in Western society not only exhibit defects in their representation and fairness, but also face decision-making dilemma at the technical level of having more problems than one can cope with.


After entering the information age, particularly with the advent of globalization, the political, economic, technological, cultural and almost all other fields in the human world have greatly accelerated the pace of development and change. They have lost the former unhurried ease and require people to respond immediately and decide a lot of new and complicated issues. The very much unchanged traditional representative systems of dual parliaments for more than 200 years have attempted to represent the universal will of the voters and implemented the principle of “the minority should submit to the majority” under piles of motions and frenzies of agenda. They used the old rules and old procedures to habitually conduct hearings and debates, which were designed in a world long before the inventions of light, refrigeration, photography, cars, aircraft, nuclear energy, missiles, lasers, computers, faxes, photocopying, digital information, fiber optics, the Internet and gene technology, and also long before the birth of Marx, Darwin, Freud and Einstein; they were saddled with numerous heavy burdens of the omnipotent decision-making centers. In fact, the majority interest they have self-professedly represented may have ceased to exist and they do not have enough capacity to deeply understand, under the explosive decision-making circumstances, the increasingly complex nature of the problems. In this situation, the traditional representative system and the associated separation of powers for checks and balances often become the synonym of protracted and capricious decisions, avoidance of decision and even erroneous decisions.


The development of non-groups in the modern pluralistic society results in a large number of minority groups. Their interests can no longer be summarized and expressed in broad and general terms by the oversimplified class interests used in the past. To fully reflect and meet these ever-changing demands of social groups in national democratic politics is a challenge for the existing political system.


The concept of democracy in the new century requires the government to break off the traditional principle of “the minority should submit to the majority” in the representative system and its simplistic “yes or no” ballot system. It will no longer let the sacred temple of the almighty representative parliament arrange the decision-making; it demands reasonably restructured, decentralized and dispersed decision-making power to implement a more effective division of decision-making.


These require developing specialized agencies for investigation and coordination, and a large number of excellent diplomatic talents of high quality. These talents are not going to work in the department of foreign affairs, but as mediators between the minority groups inside the country. They have to be good at using modern high-tech methods. They must induce the involved minority groups to exchange views, discuss problems, accept mediation and resolve disputes regardless of their different trades, professions, occupations, genders, ages, races, regions, incomes, tendencies, hobbies, religions, idealisms, etc. Concerning the numerous major differences with seemingly enormous gaps, they should not impose a decision in terms of a nominal majority, but bargain effectively for a “deal”; for example: If I give up this opposition stance to meet your particular requirements, what would you do in return? From the active compromise of the non-group minorities, they should extract positive potential to produce programs that are acceptable to all parties and have the best comprehensive results. Then they can finally form a powerful synthesis for promoting sustainable progress and development of the modern society.


On international affairs, we should also follow a similar line of thinking by relying on the United Nations, various bridge systems, and through international cooperations to gradually build a consultation and decision-making system of the new generation and new concepts. We can iron out all helpless, tangled, old hatreds and new enemies to plan for strategies that will bring peace, friendship, development and progress.


U.S. foreign policy makers have never known how to deal with Eastern countries that underwent transitions including Russia and China. The Middle East policy is almost rudderless since there can hardly be good policies to deal with international terrorism and rogue states. In particular, in 2003 a war was launched without approval of the United Nations to overthrow Saddam Hussein in Iraq, which has led to much frustration and failure. Domestically, the national health care reform showed no direction, saving education was not on the right track, federal tax cuts coincided with local tax increases, mandatory deductions increased and bankruptcies rose; the hard-won substantial fiscal surpluses turned into huge deficits within a year, and so on. Even the artificially-induced power crisis in California (California implemented a reform for electricity marketization that froze the electricity sales price of the end users; this pushed the utility companies to the verge of bankruptcy and they could not build a new power plant in ten years. Since early 2000, there was a serious shortage of electricity supply. On January 17, 2001, the state government declared a state of emergency and enforced zoned blackout measures for the first time since World War II) and the global financial tsunami induced by the 2008 sub-prime mortgage collapse signal a decision-making crisis of a new generation in an old system.


The U.S. has used the dollar as the leading international currency for maintaining its hegemonic status to gain substantial seigniorage revenue and wantonly practiced a double-deficit policy on fiscal and trade matters. It has supported the national budget deficits and lavish excessive consumption. If this situation cannot be changed fundamentally, an international financial crisis is bound to occur frequently in future, intensify and finally move toward a total world monetary crisis with no return. Not to mention the international moral responsibility, even for the U.S. own interests, this would be like drinking poison to quench thirst and is no different from an accelerated suicide. The United States will not be able to hold its global hegemony. The “American lifestyle” is unsustainable and its catastrophic consequences would be disastrous. Unfortunately, the existing decision-making system in the United States is in fact helpless in reining in this obviously non-sustainable and drug-addict policy. The system can only do nothing by muddling along and following routines without knowing where it would end. No wonder Toffler Jun shuddered and rose to cry out.


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I appreciate the summary of goal and progress of democratization by Zhongjia Pang. His closing paragraph sadly parrots the American doomsayers from 50 years ago, but the article does not give the whole American tragedy. The doomsayers saw America's decline because America's wisdom was marginalized. The error in the American system was traditional wisdom was rejected by political leadership. The wisdom, respect and values of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs were replaced with disrespect, carelessness and placing values on "new ideas" as if they were automatically better. But wisdom is not for sale like a new song or painting. If China does not carry her wisdom from Confucius, Buddha and the emerging Christian minority into her reforms, then China will also become soulless. Without wisdom there is no respect. Without respect there are no morals. Without morals China will also become obsessed with drugs and materialism. Family will become as meaningless as for most Americans. Is this what China wants?

Zhongjia Pang is the Chief Researcher of the Maxim Academy of International Economics and Sociology, USA.
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