Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Can Chinese Government Call Itself Progressive While Denying Freedom To Citizens?


There are many people who admire China for the rapid industrial and economic growth that it has achieved over a period of two decades.

Many think that China should be given it’s due, as it has emerged as one of the most important countries influencing the trend in the global economy. However, such admiration has to be limited to it’s economic and technological progress.

Giving up communist philosophy

Though China claims itself to be a communist country, founders of communist philosophy like Karl Marx would certainly not approve the Chinese government’s approach to governance today.

The state ownership of enterprises and prevention of concentration of wealth among individuals and equal distribution of national income to all people are the basic tenet of the communist philosophy. Today, large private sector projects operate in China based on profit motive, which is a negation of communist doctrine.

While countries like Russia, Hungary and others have admitted that the communist philosophy is impractical for achieving sustained economic growth and have moved away from communist form of government, China is following capitalist path but still claims that it is a communist country, which is not so anymore.

Freedom to business and not to people

While China has diluted it’s communist philosophy to move towards capitalist form of economy, it is giving freedom to business houses but not to it’s citizens. In other words, it is keeping the worst aspects of communism in practice and giving up the laudable objectives and procedures of communist philosophy.

Democracy is non-existent in China and a coterie of people, who organize themselves under an entity called politburo govern the country. Those in charge of the government are usurpers of power under the banner of communist party and they do not have the mandate from the people. In other words, the rulers of the country are a group of people who have organized themselves under a party and the people in the party struggle and compete among themselves to get on to the seats of power.

Recent example of suppression of freedom

Journalists at privately operated Chinese news portals are only accredited to cover sports or entertainment events and are required to use only those reports that are released by state control media for news related to politics and society.

Chinese government has now shut down several online news operations after authorities accused the operators for independently reporting and publishing articles about potentially sensitive subjects.

As a consequence, major Chinese language portals including Sina, Sohu, Netease and iFeng have been forced to close some of their freewheeling political and social news sites and social network accounts after China’s internet control department disapproved their activities relating to news coverage, comments and discussions, which was termed by Chinese government as violating the law and regulations.

Can suppression of freedom take place in a progressive country?

Ultimate criteria to judge that a country is progressive is the level of freedom enjoyed by the citizens to think on their own , discuss their view points and express their opinions irrespective of the stand and policy of the government on any particular issue. This is not happening in China.

Freedom of expression is certainly one of the significant contributors for the happiness index of the citizens. While different level of freedom are enjoyed by people in various countries, perhaps, China represents the worst case study for denial of liberty to the people. Today, one of the preconditions to move freely in China is that the individual has to ensure that he would not be critical of any policy or program of government of China.

The people in other countries who have tasted freedom are bound to have sympathies for Chinese citizens ,who are seeing more of economic prosperity and less of personal liberty. To this extent, one should think that Chinese people are less privileged and the government of China is guilty of condemning it’s people to such conditions.

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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