Chinese people’s previous envy of West is over, feel home better
Published: Jul 05, 2021 05:21 PM
Photo:Yang Hui and Chen Xia

Photo:Yang Hui and Chen Xia

Chinese citizens used to be envious of Western values and ideals, now they know: The grass isn't greener. They're better off at home.

Casual observers in China see visible evidence of many lifestyle improvements. In cities this is manifested by large shopping centers, car parks full of cars, most of which are less than five years old. Inside the shopping centers, luxury brands are making China their target for future growth. These are indicators of significant wealth. In rural areas it's more relative, it can be seen in improvements in housing, concrete or tarmac roads, which used to be dirt tracks, leading into every village. Donkeys no longer ply the streets carrying owners to market. Now, they're in small vans, on motorbikes and three wheeled electric or petrol carts. There aren't any signs that this explosion of improvements will abate any time soon, all indicators are to the contrary, it's only getting better.

But this isn't why Chinese people show great satisfaction with their government. What's happened is tourism, technology, social media and global headlines, have shown them what the world outside is really like. 

The former US Secretary of State claims that China needs democracy. The entire world watched events unfold after the last election, legal arguments, massive demonstrations and finally a storming of the supposed "center of democracy." Some people ask: If this is democracy, why would we want it? 

What China does have, is a system that Western media can't, or won't understand. Some Chinese scholars call it the system of "selection and election," where competent leaders are selected on the basis of performance and broad support after a vigorous process that includes screening, opinion surveys, internal evaluations and various types of elections.

It's impossible to reach the top of governance unless you're both competent and wanted. In other words, if democracy means government working for people, then it's already here. People don't work for the Party, the Party works for them. 

Human rights are important to China, unlike Australia, the US and, notably right now Canada, China values, includes and promotes ethnicity. Everyone knows there are 56 ethnic groups in China, what most people don't realize is that at the National People's Congress level, these minorities are over-represented and have a stronger say in their own governance than the Han majority. There are five autonomous regions run by ethnic minorities. 

Freedom of speech is commendable and lauded by the Western world whose media frequently claim China doesn't have it but then ignore the impact of social media. Criticism of the government is loud, it's extensive and it's listened to. Meanwhile, in the US, every year we see stronger legislation passed to prevent more breaches of national security, the latest being the June 15 National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism which, according to some analysts, makes it a terrorism offense to criticize government or capitalist organizations and could, according to one law professor "ensnare" critics of Joe Biden. So much for free speech. We even saw the past president denied the rights of free speech on a social media platform! 

Crime statistics are a damning indictment of where differences lie between Western, particularly the US, societies and China. The US has the highest number of incarcerated citizens in the world, it has the highest number of gun deaths in the developed world and more privately owned guns than people. Statistics of reported crimes show that there are states in the US that have more murders and more robberies per annum than the entire country of China. 

China has proven itself to be a stable, safe, healthy society. The rhetoric coming from Western media saying otherwise needs to be critically analyzed and, for the most part, disregarded. If China has any message for the West, it's this: Thank you for your offer, but we don't need your help.

The author is a British Australian freelance writer who has studied cross cultural change management in China and has lived in the country, traveling extensively for 17 years. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn