China's Road Towards Democratic Governance


Wednesday, September 21, 2011, 4:10pm to 5:30pm


124 Mount Auburn Street, Suite 200-North, Cambridge, MA

Yu KepingYu Keping, Director, Center for Chinese Government Innovations, Peking University 

About the Seminar
Yu Keping will illustrate briefly the whole process of governance reform since the Reform in 1978 in China, including achievements, breakthrough reforms, map line, dynamics, and reform focus in the near future. He will also frankly discuss and analyze the biggest challenges faced by the Chinese government today – or, put another way, the most unsatisfactory issues that concern the public about their government. Such dissatisfaction lies not in economic growth, but in social problems such as social inequality, the growing gap between the rich and poor, serious corruption among public officials, social instability, high crime rates, environmental degradation, and ignorance of citizens’ human rights. To solve these problems, it is far from enough to merely rely on economic development: it is imperative to enhance democratic governance. This is the basic reason why Chinese President Hu Jintao stresses the importance of “scientific development.” The essence of “scientific development” lies in the coordinated, comprehensive, and sustainable development policies and practices among the political, economic, cultural, societal, and environmental arenas. This is also the reason that Premier Wen Jiabao continually underscores that democracy and rule of law, as well as equality and justice, are the primary values of true Socialism.

Democracy is the union of universality and particularity. Obviously, China has its own way towards democracy. We must admit that the Chinese way of political development – especially the political democratization – is extremely different from the Western democratic tradition. Differences are natural, and not automatically antagonistic, given the different contexts and cultures from which Eastern and Western civilizations have arisen. Consequently, it is almost a dead end to explain the Chinese way of democratic politics by using existing Western democratic theories. Likewise, from the standards of Western democratic political values, it is hard to recognize that the Chinese political system is heading for democracy. The fundamental changes of the world prompt us to rethink not only classical socialist theory of democracy but also classical liberal one.

About the Speaker
Yu Keping is deputy director of the Compilation and Translation Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. He is also a professor of politics and director of the Center for Chinese Government Innovations at at Peking University. In addition, he serves as professor and director of the China Center for Comparative Politics and Economics in Beijing. Mr. Keping is the author of Democracy is a Good Thing (Brookings Institution Press, 2009).

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