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International Herald Leader: Western Countries Lecturing China on Democracy Should Stop

This is an article published in the International Herald Leader. It strongly criticizes the concept of Westerners promoting democracy in China. “Western countries advertise themselves as ‘listening to different voices,’ and being objective and democratic, but they secretly look at us through a pair of ‘colored glasses.’” The author is from the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs, a government organization, whose honorary chairman is former Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing. Its directors and consultants include a large number of Chinese Communist Party members and government executives. The following is the translation of the full article. [1] It was written in response to incidents that occurred when China was guest of honor at the German Book Fair mentioned in the article and to Western media responses to Beijing’s attempts to control who participated in the fair. [2][3]

Westerner’s "Democracy Lectures" to China Should Stop
Zhu Xiangchun, the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs

(International Herald Leader, September 12) During the seminar entitled “China and the World – Perception and Truth,” the German organizers, disregarding China’s resolute opposition, insisted on welcoming “dissidents” to join, although the Chinese participants did not welcome them. The Chinese representatives angrily withdrew in protest. Once the organizers apologized on the spot, they came back. However, a number of German parliamentarians and the German media made a big deal about this and even slandered (the Chinese representatives) as “dictator’s representatives.” These actions from the German side not only cast a shadow on the Frankfurt Book Fair, where China would be the country that was guest of honor in the coming October, but also once again exposed the Westerner’s old-fashioned thinking and psychology of condescension toward China and lecturing China on “democracy.” 

Although the cold war ended many years ago, the Western’s perception of China is still full of ambivalence. Even for an ordinary thing involving China, Western society’s imagination can run wild, and even distort the facts and spread rumors. This seminar was originally for creating a good atmosphere for the Frankfurt Book Fair, but Western society obstinately linked it with China’s “democracy” and “human rights” and eventually formed a wave of criticizing and slandering China. This move implied that they had deeply-rooted misconceptions and prejudice toward China. It showed that the Western countries advertised themselves as “listening to different voices,” objective, and democratic, but they secretly looked at us through a pair of “colored glasses.”

Since the industrial revolution, Western society has always possessed a sense of superiority – they are the best among various cultures and system arrangements in human society. That should be a universal truth. The Soviet Union’s collapse marked the so-called “end of history” for a number of Westerners and the Western democratic system would be the “final form” of human society’s evolution. This has been the most arrogant voice from the Western communities about its democratic system. Even today, they have not completely changed that mentality and psychology. With three decades of reform and opening, China’s rapid development has caught the world’s attention, and its economic scale has leapt to third in the world. This makes many Western countries feel uncomfortable, if not fearful.

Western society is used to making trouble in the name of “democracy,” but it is not really a simple matter of being considerate of others. They call themselves “moral guardians” in the international community and dominate the international voices to serve their economic interests and political plots. Because of the long-term negative propaganda in Western society during the Cold War, the Western public not only has limited understanding of China but their minds are full of prejudice. Digging out China’s “dark side” has also become a way for some Western media and politicians to seize political capital and constantly please the public. This has even gone to the level of, “Whoever hates China the most ruthlessly is the most likable.”

The Western’s democratic system slogan seems very appealing, but history has relentlessly proven that the results of imposing Western democracy are often frustrating, and even catastrophic. Until now, none of the developing countries have realized their modernization through “grafting” on Western democracy.

Today, not only is China’s development visible, but also it bears the international responsibility as a super power. If the Western communities turn a blind eye [to China] and keep making trouble, they will eventually lose their credibility with the Chinese public.

We advise those so-called “democracy fighters” that the “democracy lectures” to China must stop! This is just like what Mei Zhaorong, the former president of the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs and the former Chinese Ambassador, who attended the seminar, said, “We are here for exchanging views, not for democracy classes, which are already outdated."

[1] International Herald Leader, Sept 21, 2009
[2] For a description of the Book Fair event, see also:
[3] The Frankfurt Book Fair, which featured China as “guest of honor,” began on October 14. In September, two Chinese writers, journalist Dai Qing and poet Bei Ling, had their invitations revoked after China complained. Their books about the Tiananmen pro-democracy movement and the Three Gorges Dam are banned in China. The German PEN club of independent writers, however, invited them anyway. Envoys of the Dalai Lama and Uyghur pro-independence advocate Rebiya Kadeer, were also present. Fair organizers had invited Liao Yiwu, who wrote a book on China’s underprivileged, The Corpse Walker, as well as essays about the survivors and victims of last year’s earthquake in Sichuan, but Beijing refused to lift his travel ban.
This article is in response to media outside of China. The above Canada Free Press article stated, for example, “The Chinese government’s effort to prevent dissident authors from taking part in the prestigious Frankfurt Book Fair, an international showcase for freedom of expression, has offered Germany a close-up view of China’s intolerance of dissent.”