Political reform

A student waves during a rehearsal before celebrations in Beijing, China, on 1 July 2021, to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. (Wang Zhao/AFP)

Young Chinese academic: Imagining a future China as the CCP celebrates its centenary

Huang Zhiping points out the irony that in many democracies, the people elect the government, but they often have little direct influence over the decisions that elected officials make. Conversely, in the Chinese system, officials are very sensitive to public opinion on Weibo, and react at lightning speed to correct wrong or bad impressions. Is this the power of the people in the true sense of the word? Could the “Weibo model” of ruling those in power be the true utopia?
A colour supplement of Le Petit Journal from 1900 shows the Allied troops attacking Beijing.

[Picture story] The Boxer Rebellion: A wound in China’s modern history

The Boxer Rebellion at the turn of the 20th century goes down in history as proof that if the Chinese are weak, the West will take advantage and China will pay the price. It is a constant reminder to the Chinese of their past humiliations and guides their dealings with the West today. Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao shares illustrations of the tumultuous times during that period.
Local natives of Hong Kong participate in a flash mob march to show solidarity with the 47 pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong who were charged for state subversion due to them organizing and taking part in a primary election, in Santa Monica, California on 7 March 2021. (Ringo Chiu/AFP)

Chinese culture at odds with freedom and democracy, shows fate of Ming dynasty's opposition party Donglin

Hong Kong commentator Chip Tsao looks back at the Donglin movement during the Ming dynasty, concluding that its rise and fall shows that freedom and democracy have a history of clashing with China’s cultural background and DNA.
People walk in a historic street decorated for Lunar New Year celebrations in Beijing, China, 8 February 2021. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

US-China relations lost these 'five traditions' over the past 40 years

Trust once lost is hard to regain, says Wei Da, in the context of US-China relations. Even with a new administration in place, the climate of suspicion, mistrust and even animosity will persist. China must adapt and react to new circumstances if it wants to maintain even this uneasy peace.
In this file photo from 6 January 2021, supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol, in Washington, DC. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

America's flawed democracy: When power and cognitive abilities of the people fail to match

Academic Deng Xize notes that the 2020 US election demonstrates what he terms the Socratic Trap, referring to the gap between people’s cognitive abilities and the power they hold. How will this affect the democratic process, and what are the shortcomings of democracy?
People are seen in silhouette on a street on a winter day in Beijing, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, China, 21 December 2020. (Tingshu Wang/REUTERS)

The great reshuffle: How China is changing up its provincial leaders ahead of the 20th Party Congress in 2022

Even though the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China will only be held in 2022, already there have been changes made this year to the top leaders of several provinces in China. More are expected in the coming months, with hot seats in Jiangsu, Shandong, and Henan — the three major provinces with larger economies and population size — closely watched. Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu looks at the implications of this exercise in bringing in new blood.
People walk along a street in Wuhan, Hubei, China on 29 September 2020. (STR/AFP)

Why modernising China is so difficult

Wei Da calls out China’s modus operandi of seeking modernisation yet fighting it at the same time. He says China’s road to modernisation faces the classic dilemmas of setting its priorities right and establishing new paradigms that will liberate it from the shackles of the past. Only then, can China imagine a future that will bring it on par with advanced civilisations. 
In this file photo former Chinese communist leader Chairman Mao Zedong (L) welcomes former US President Richard Nixon at his house in the Forbidden City in Beijing on 22 February 1972. (Handout/AFP)

Was Nixon’s policy of engaging China a failure?

US State Secretary Mike Pompeo made a key speech on China at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum recently. The venue could not have been more symbolic, given former President Nixon’s role in the US’s rapprochement with China in the 1970s, and the current Trump administration’s belief that a new approach to China is necessary as the US’s engagement strategy “has not brought the kind of change inside China that President Nixon hoped to induce”. Analyst and writer Zheng Weibin weighs up the costs and benefits of this new approach.
A woman walks past a Communist Party slogan urging people to "Follow the Party forever" outside a residential compound in Beijing on 6 July 2020. (Greg Baker/AFP)

The return of Mao-era practices: New threat to China's political and economic modernisation

EAI academic Lance Gore says that the Communist Party of China is reenacting the “great leader model” and reviving many practices of the Mao era. These include tightening control over information flow and restricting freedom of speech, enhancing propaganda and ideological and political indoctrination, emphasising obedience and absolute loyalty, advancing the ideal of the party acting for the government, among others. He says these anti-modernisation tactics need to be addressed as China attempts to modernise its governance and build institutions with soul.