No one expected China’s Communist party to introduce and approve charter changes that lead to defect perpetual or continuous leadership at the highest party levels. Yet in the lens of the super long term view China takes of politics, history and culture, this astounding move is yet another chip in the ambitious and energetic push to confirm China as a global leader and power for the foreseeable future.
International Implications: The most critical implication for foreign relations with China and Chinese relations with other countries is continuity (also a key component of Chinese culture). Countries and leaders approaching China now will know that China’s approach and policy will be unwavering and predictable, that no radical departures will take place from the stated policy or approach to any issue. This is in sharp contrast to democratic principals in the Americas and Europe that usher in change every 4-5 years. This implies that China is signaling other countries and trading partners that China values continuity in relations and relationships.
Domestic implication: Domestically Chinese people no longer have to think about democracy or politics. They can concentrate their energies on the Economy, on scholarship and on building their country and economy. While occidentals have a huge problem understanding what appears to be blanket acceptance by the Chinese of the introduction of continuous leadership, the fact is that this is in fact not a departure of the last 80 years of Chinese politics that have had a strong controlling Communist Party at the helm with various spokespersons as figure heads at the forefront. In fact in China policy has always been made by the Communist party higher council which has supported this constitutional change to de facto formalize its own power and control. There is n other political party in China. Nothing has changed; this move has just formalized the status quo.
Global Implications: For the global democratic agenda, China’s move signals to country with evolving political systems that it is ok to have one strong man or party with a vision for the country. It signals China is now committed to a continuous policy and engagement and that there will be no policy changes towards partners. Implications are huge for USA and Europe that support and recommend democracy and pluralism in politics. This is a significant show-and-tell by China and a direct challenge to democratization globally.
Putin’s Russia is not far behind.
We are entering a period of shifting political systems now and the real concern is the presentation of an alternative model of governance to the vast majority of countries still evolving politically.