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Red Flag Manuscript: Who Is Challenging Western Liberalism?

[Editor’s Note: In this Red Flag Manuscript article, Dou Hanzhang, an Internet commentator at Xinhua Net, expresses his aversion to Western liberalism: “Behind its beautiful words lies a horrific dark side. It can bring injustice, evil, and war.” He admires Singapore’s authoritarian society as China’s role model and cites Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong: “We preach state supremacy. Our national interests are not only above individual interests. They are also above the interests of any social group.”

In his opinion, the economic success of China and Singapore proves that “Western liberalism is replaceable and unnecessary.” His viewpoints echo the Party line. One Chinese blogger calls him “a 50-cent Party member on regular payroll.”

(The 50-cent Party refers to “fans” of the Communist Party hired to propagate pro government views on the Internet. They get paid about 50 cents (Chinese RMB) for each posting.)

The following is a translation of excerpts from the article] [1]

In the blink of an eye, the first decade of the new century will soon end. Looking back, the rapid rise of China is undoubtedly the most important and spectacular phenomenon in the world. The world is using the word “miracle” to describe China’s great achievement. China’s success has validated the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, improved our national pride and confidence, and, at the same time, generated great interest in the international forum of ideologies. Some foreign scholars have praised the “China Model.” They believe that the “China Model” will become a role model for developing countries and a powerful challenge to Western values.

Since China insists on walking on its own path, the “China Model” has become a reality. However, China’s success does not mean that the “China Model” will challenge the Western liberal ideology and its social system. China does not choose confrontation, nor does it export its values. China respects other countries (right) to choose their own system. On the other hand, despite China’s great economic achievement, it still has severe corruption, a huge income gap, and the destruction of natural resources. This evidence shows that the “China Model” needs further improvement.

The core values of Western liberalism are democracy, freedom, equality, and individual rights. Compared to feudalist totalitarianism, liberalism is definitely a major step forward. In the last 300 hundred years, Western freedom and popular ideas such as God given human rights, liberty, equality, and fraternity have become the mainstream ideology in the West. After the Cold War, Western liberalism, the victor, received unprecedented acknowledgement around the world. American scholar Fukuyama even declared that the end of history had come and Western liberalism was the ultimate social institution for mankind.

However, history proves that the people who believe that Western liberalism and its social system are perfect and that it is the final answer are totally wrong.

The beautiful words “democracy,” “freedom,” and “equality” used by liberalism to inspire people will not necessarily lead to a happy life. In countries that have adopted liberalism, the rich live in extreme luxury while the poor suffer from poverty, hunger, and disease. It is clear that Western liberalism is no wonder drug for curing social injustice. Most people in the world believe that the Iraq War waged by the U.S. was a violation of international law and, therefore, unjustifiable, but in 2003, nearly 80% of Americans supported it. Recently in France, the Sarkozy administration decided to expel Gypsies. The French Senate voted to ban Muslim face veils in public. All these incidents prove that democracy, liberty, and equality do not guarantee justice and goodwill. Behind its beautiful words lies a horrific dark side, which can bring injustice, evil, and war.

In human history, democracy and freedom have been implemented in the pursuit of good social order. If a different ideology to establish social order can be identified, Western liberalism is replaceable and unnecessary.

In China’s last one hundred years, Western liberal ideas and its social system have had a big impact; its influence on China’s development is complex.

On the ideological front, Western liberalism became widespread in the last days of the Qing Dynasty. Today, liberal ideas have a great influence on China’s intellectuals and among elite circles, particularly in colleges and the media. The media’s liberal values and expressions have had a significant impact on their audience, especially among the elite.

China’s economic system has borrowed heavily from the West. China is now an active member of the global economy. As a result, China has gained a significant amount of economic power. Chinese people’s standard of living has greatly improved.

However, based on history and reality, further accepting and integrating Western liberalism is not a rational choice for China. Political liberalization often leads to the severe erosion of the state’s authority, causing the disintegration of or a reduction in the country’s strength and thereby leaving room for foreign influence and manipulation. This will eventually hurt the people’s interests.

The disintegration of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia provide lessons to be learned. Look at the struggles between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Russia and Georgia, Serbia and Kosovo. These one-time brothers in the same country are constantly fighting with each other.

Look at the Middle East, East Asia, and Latin America. Encouraged by the West, some countries have adopted Western democracy, but their elections often separate the country into two parties, and neither is willing to compromise. Both parties seek outside help and affiliate with foreign countries.

For a great country like China, disintegration would mean turmoil, and China’s great renaissance would be interrupted. The Chinese people have a strong feeling of nationalism and cultural pride. The majority of Chinese do not want to be affiliated with foreign countries. In fact, no other country can afford to feed China. Therefore, Western liberalism would be a huge risk for China.

More importantly, as Western liberal, political, and economic development has reached its peak, it has also reached its limit. The West creates global conflicts and causes crises in currencies, trade, and the environment. Western values cannot do anything to solve these problems. Western liberalism can only lead the world to a dead end.

Marx said that capitalism has two incurable illnesses: over-production and unemployment.

From a global perspective, the burden of world population is catching up with the earth’s limits. If mankind is to survive, we must control population growth and consumption. Liberal values that promote individual rights, consumption, and greed cannot save the world. The world will need to suppress individual rights and promote the principles of collectivism. Currently, the most prominent countries that follow these principles are China and Singapore.

Although Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) says they practice democratic socialism, their governing principles are fundamentally different from the social democratic parties in Europe. Social democratic parties believe in multi-party competition, but the PAP has had one party rule for decades. It has an authoritarian government.

(Former Prime Minister) Lee Kuan Yew once said, “The country needs to develop. Therefore, discipline outweighs democracy. A highly democratic process leads to undisciplined and chaotic behavior. That is bad for development.”

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, “We preach state supremacy. Our national interests are not only above individual interests, they are also above the interests of any social group.”

Under the guidance of collectivism, Singapore enjoys good social order. Over the last 40 years it has made huge strides. Formerly a resource-deficient colony that was corrupt, dirty, and poor, it is now a fully developed country.

China’s problem is not whether to adopt Western democracy, but whether China can travel its own path and whether it can truly practice rule by the law, protect social justice, and maintain public order.

Western liberalism talks about justice; China’s socialism pays even more attention to justice. If China does not eliminate corruption and does not uphold justice, people will not be happy, and Western forces will seize the opportunity, promote liberalism, and create instability. China needs to achieve concrete results in the areas of social justice and fighting graft so that West liberalism will have no market in China.