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Caixin: Fukuyama Gives Priority to the Rule of Law

In its June 1 issue, Caixin, a media group that features financial and business news in China, published an interview of Francis Fukuyama, author of the well-known book, The End of History and the Last Man (1992). In his book, Fukuyama claimed that liberal democracy was the last stop on history’s long road. On June 15, Caixin also published the interview on its English website.

In recent years and with the rise of economic powerhouses linked to political systems such as China’s that do not rely on the one-man-one vote model, memories of what many called democracy’s Cold War victory have dimmed. In Caixin’s recent interview in Beijing, Fukuyama said he remains committed to the premise that the modernizing human family is marching toward political systems that balance the rule of law, "state capacity," and democracy. 

Fukuyama stated that it is possible for a strong state to succeed economically without democracy, but that democracy builds stability and legitimacy, which, in turn, supports growth and helps governments survive economic crises. "I think that, in the long run, transitioning to democracy makes the whole system stable and legitimate and therefore is good for growth." Fukuyama continued, "I think that’s why most rich countries in the world today are actually liberal democracies." 

In answering the question on the relative importance of state capacity, the rule of law, and accountability in today’s China, Fukuyama gave priority to strengthening the rule of law. Discussing his interest in China, besides its size, and that it has never been integrated into the world system, Fukuyama observed, "There is so much in Chinese history about being a civilization that people aren’t aware of." It was the richness of that tradition that he found really fascinating.

Fukuyama also questioned the sustainability of China’s growth model, as well as the lower productivity of its state-owned enterprises compared to its private sector. 

Source: Caixin Online; Caixin Weekly