Will China Bring an End to Democracy?

Will China Bring an End to Democracy?

Photo © Jan Oberg “Boy Looking Back” – 2018

Charles Hampden-Turner, Peter Peverelli and Fons Trompenaars

November 23, 2021

This is Chapter 9 of a new book “Has China Devised a Superior Path to Wealth Creation? The Role of Secular Values” by three leading experts on China, cultural dimensions of societies and culture for business.

Almost nothing does China more harm in the estimation of the world than the accusation that it is not a democracy and has no announced intention of becoming one. It is accused of totalitarianism. This is profoundly disturbing to the world for several reasons.

First China has the largest population on earth at 1.4 billion and it suggests that large populations may not be able to cohere democratically. In a world population that is exploding this is bad news. India has the world’s second-largest population and democracy there shows signs of morphing into Hindu nationalism with Muslims as second-class citizens.

Secondly, we are used to the idea that democracy and prosperity go together and nearly all the world’s most affluent nations are democracies in the sense that they elect their leaders. The success of the PRC threatens that assumption.

Thirdly China’s amazing surge in growth is likely to be emulated by emerging economies in general and now these may wonder whether becoming more democratic is necessary. That economic success has to do with “freedom” is the cornerstone of economic orthodoxy and now it seems that those foundations are shaky.

How can the Chinese be so “unfree” yet prosper? Could the goal of fast economic growth pre-empt democracy? Is it possible that democracy and rapid economic growth are enemies? We shall proceed as follows

• China’s negation of democratic orthodoxy

• Is democracy defined by voting or by consensus?

• What cultures show in public and what they hide

• Is verbal conflict always a reliable substitute for physical conflict?

• What is essential to both democracy and business growth is dialogue

• Two concepts of liberty: Freedom from and Freedom for

• The Hedgehog and the Fox: Do we cast dollar ballots in a free market?

• China’s negation of democratic orthodoxy

Continue reading as a PDF

If you find analyses like this important and enlightening in these times when your media bring you only negative stories about China, please help TFF bring you even more here. Many thanks!

The authors and related links

Peter Peverelli: Human rights measured by the dimensions of culture

Cross Cultural Human Rights Center (CCHRC) at the Vrije University in Amsterdam

Peter Peverelli personal profile

Fons Trompenaars on Wikipedia

Charles Hampden-Turner on Wikipedia

Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner “Culture for Business” homepage

Trompenaars profile on that homepage

Charles Hampden-Turner on that homepage

7 Responses to "Will China Bring an End to Democracy?"

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  6. TC Khoo   November 25, 2021 at 7:55 am

    if only the western world can understand the basics of the Chinese psyche – the Chinese are a “self focused” people in that they care primarily for their families and their communities. They are willing to work themselves to death just so they save up as much as possible for their families. Chinese people prefer to keep out of the limelight not least to avoid the scrutiny that their success invites. In Southeast Asia, ethnically Chinese make up only 5% of the population but control between one and three quarters of the economy according to a range of indicators (such as business ownership, investment, capital or taxes paid). Given the choice, Chinese people do not like to intrude into the affairs of others, let alone go around dismantling their political systems. Did China invade Afghanistan, Bosnia, El Salvador, Grenada, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, etc.?

    • JO   November 25, 2021 at 10:08 am

      Many thanks, dear Khoo, for your insightful comment.


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