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Special> Fourth Plenary Session of 18th CPC Central Committee> Opinions
UPDATED: September 28, 2014 NO. 41 OCTOBER 9, 2014
Why Can't China Adopt the American Model?
By Lan Xinzhen

Amidst the Chinese Government's decision regarding the future of the electoral system in Hong Kong at the end of August, some people in the special administrative region demanded a system in which any candidate can run for the office of chief executive.

Naturally, this has prompted many more to ask why a particular system of government should be adopted in a country or a region. One question often raised is why China cannot follow the same political model as that of the United States.

In answering that, one must consider the differences in the governments of China and the United States, and account for the divergences between the two countries' paths of development, histories and cultures.

In 1620, pilgrims fleeing religious persecution in England boarded the Mayflower, en route to North America, and signed the Mayflower Compact on the ship. This was the first self-government treaty to be created and enforced in America. Colonists from European countries arrived in North America in the years that followed, and by the middle of the 18th century, 13 colonies under the rule of the British king had been established there. These colonies won independence from Britain following the American Revolutionary War (1775-83). As a result, the United States was fully established under self-rule.

However, the newly founded nation was on shaky footing after the war. In 1787, the 13 states held the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia to address problems in governing the patchwork of states. Leaders from the states agreed on a representative democratic system that separated legislative, judicial and administrative powers. Such a system was formed by balancing the power of the states within the framework of the Federal Government. The U.S. democratic system represents the equality of the states and their people, and helped spur the country's rapid development in the centuries that followed.

Contrast that with the founding and traditional rule of China. The nation was dominated by imperial dynasties for over 2,000 years, following the first Chinese Emperor Qinshihuang's unification of the country in 221 B.C. The Chinese people have since developed a great respect for their country, and the collectivism observed in society is in stark contrast to the advocacy of individualism in the United States. The progress made in China's economic and social development over the past 30 years or so has proven that the country's system of governance is what best fits its situation.

It is worth noting that a country's ruling system should be established to foster national prosperity, social harmony and the improvement of people's livelihoods. The governments in developed Western countries—such as Britain and the United States—and China alike serve this purpose. Different models of governance—assuming they fulfill the aforementioned purpose—should be given credence, rather than relying on one "standard" model to be practical for all nations. China tried the American model of the separation of powers in the first half of the 20th century without success, showing that U.S.-style governance was not a good fit for China's situation.

Email us at: lanxinzhen@bjreview.com

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