Asian Century Journal

An Asian Century Philippines Publication

China Tops 2022 Democracy Index

By Herman Tiu Laurel

As I start this article, the feverish preparation in China for Communist Party of China (CPC) must be settling down as the opening of the congress itself slated for October 16, 2022 is imminent in less than 24 hours.

The world is in suspenseful anticipation after a whole year of speculation, especially by Western think tanks and media, of the much analyzed probably third term for President Xi Jinping and the new leadership line up for China.

The quinquennial CPC National People’s Congress is the highest organ of state power and the national legislature of the People’s Republic of China, with 2,288 elected to attend this congress and at least 33.6% drawn from party frontline and production workers and more delegates from women and ethnic minorities.

The CPC always strives for balanced representation and minority affirmative action. It is so unlike the Western and our models where millionaires and oligarch dominate.

The West constantly questions China’s qualifications to merit calling itself a “people’s democracy” because it is said to have not elections to choose its leadership, but Chinese intellectuals have explained that China does have elections at certain levels of government and it also impose a “meritocracy” (quotation marks for emphasis) but selecting the most meritorious for the ascending ladder of leadership, a characteristic that has made China’s democracy the best in the world.

China’s robust democracy

The West, ever insistent on the virtues of its electoral democracies based on elections as a minimum standard do all sorts of surveys every year to prove their democracies’ worth over other claimed democratic systems.

One of these surveys is conducted by the Copenhagen-based non-profit Alliance of Democracies Foundation (ADF) survey conducted in 53 countries on how those societies appreciate democracy and rate their country’s system as a democracy.

The ADF conducts the survey through Latana a Berlin-based consumer research group polling 53,000 people in 53 countries, and since it is done by Western organizations there should be no doubt about the impartiality for the Western audiences when its conclusions contradict Western perceptions.

I have been following this Democracy Perception Index for at least the past five years and I am not surprised at its final conclusion, but others may still be shocked at its findings.

The survey’s questionnaire raises many items but two main points are the most revealing. First, how important is democracy and, second how democratic is your country. Two countries are also compared side by side, China and the supposedly World’s biggest democracy India. The conclusion from Sandipan Deb, reporter of “moneycontrol” website I draw some insights to this article said, “The biggest surprise is that the country which perceives itself as the most democratically contented in the world is—China!”

Chinese, India and U.S. democracy

How important is democracy to you, the question was asked to Chinese and Indian respondents. Sadipan Deb reports, “Ninety-one percent of Chinese believe democracy is important and… The corresponding India figures are 82 percent…” While on the question whether they feel their country is democratic or not 83% of the Chinese feel their country is democratic while only 70% of Indians feel their country is democratic. This latter figure is termed the sense of “democratic deficit” of which China’s is the lowest.

While satisfaction in the level of democracy is highest in China and Asia as a whole, dissatisfaction with the level of democracy is highest in Latin American countries and sentiment has also increased most in European countries such as Greece, France, Austria, and the Netherlands since the previous survey in 2021. In Turkey, where President Erdogan has been in power since 2014, the figure stands at almost 75%.

America, supposedly the modern the land of the Cardale of democracy, is perceived by 32% of its citizens as not having free speech, 42% don’t believe they enjoy equal rights and 31% believe their elections are not fair, while 63% of its people believe their government does not act in favor of the majority of the people which is up from 52% in 2020. The light from the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor seems to be darkening ever more in this 21st Century.

Philippine democracy perception

According to the survey 75% of Filipinos perceive their country as democratic, higher than India’s 70% but lower than Chinese perception of democracy in their country at 83%. 18% of Filipinos feel they do not have enough democracy, 48% believe it just the right amount of democracy while 25% believe the Philippines has too much democracy. So only a plurality sees Philippine democracy as just right while 52% total believe either it’s not enough or too there’s much of it.

On the very crucial question of whether government serves the minority or majority interest the results are: 27% believe their government just serves the minority that is “a small group in my country”. On the question of “Political leaders in my country are elected in free and honest elections” only 9% disagree. On the threats to democracy 78% agreed to “Economic Inequality” as a major threat. 56% agree that free speech is limited, unfair and fraudulent elections 71% agree, corruption 76% agree.

There is an apparent contradiction between the 9% disagreement with the belief that the country has the right amount of democracy while having 71% agree with the statement that unfair and fraudulent elections exist, but then public perception of election fraud, vote buying and even election violence is a mixed bag of acceptance, toleration and even acquiescence such as accepting vote-buying which is a nationwide practice.

Democracy in Peril

The results of the Democracy Perception Index have been consistent the past years confirming vast popular and growing support of Chinese democracy from its people while increasing pessimism in most Western electoral democracies. I should hurry to add here that Vietnam also enjoys the same trends as China, a similarly election-selection meritocratic democratic system. Singapore, likewise, is a system more akin to China and Vietnam in all actuality, or behind the façade of its elections.

The Philippines has a lot to learn about genuine and real democracy that serves the majority of its people and not only a miniscule minority that have acquired control of the political-security-economic institutions of society to imprison the minds and hostage the economic survival of the people in its stockade to feed its – the oligarchy – profit and power mania.

Elections cannot change and has never changed that; they have only aggravated the conditions for the people’s welfare to wilt and die.

We need only cite the power industry and the EPIRA law which has perpetuated the spiraling high prices of electricity killing foreign and domestic investment, dried up not tax revenues of government, extracted every last ounce of sustenance from the masses, and bans government from providing cheap electricity to kick off development. The oligarchy’s media spin machine befuddles the hungry, desperate nation into the stupor of poverty.

Instead of an oligarchy that is evolving into a new aristocracy as rulers, the Filipino must study and consider new alternatives, a democracy with Filipino characteristics that absorbs the values of meritocracy, a public service elite and vanguard that will serve permanently with a continuing, internally self-renewing leadership as can be witnessed in the progressing countries that have used such meritocratic-selective leadership mechanism. ###

<strong>Herman “Ka Mentong” Tiu Laurel</strong>
Herman “Ka Mentong” Tiu Laurel

is a broadcast journalist. He is a former columnist of Daily Tribune (INFOWARS and DIE HARD III; Mondays and Wednesday) and OpinYon (Consumers’ Demand!, Critic’s Critic, and People’s Struggle; weekly).
He hosted Talk News TV and Journeys: Chronicles of our Asian Century, both on Global News Network.
He is now the host of the radio and live stream program Global Talk News Radio for Radyo Pilipinas 1 – 738AM, which broadcasts every Sunday 8AM to 10AM.
While in quarantine, he is hosting the live stream program Power Thinks on his personal Facebook page Herman Laurel (fb.com/hermantiulaurel) and the Global Talk News Radio Facebook page (fb.com/globaltalknewsradio)
He was also the former Administrator of the Philippine Refugee Processing Center (PRPC; now called the Bataan Technology Park, Inc.) during the administration of Corazon C. Aquino.

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