Date of Award
Josef Korbel School of International Studies
Paul R. Viotti, Ph.D.
Chinese Democracy, Development change, Elite, Interview
Will China become a multiparty democracy? This is the research problem of this dissertation. My hypothesis is this: the greater the extent that Chinese elite thinking on development and change reconciles the tension between Chinese nationalism and collectivist, family-like ethics on the one hand, and the western democratic ideals based on each self-seeking individual’s subjectivity on the other hand, the greater the chance that China’s political development will lead to a multiparty democracy. The dissertation includes two parts: Chapters two to five are historical analyses, and chapters six to eight are the interviews. It is my assumption that Chinese elite thinking on China’s development and change has been influencing the Chinese practice of democracy since the Opium War (1839-1842), and will continue to have great impacts upon the Chinese pursuit of democracy in the next 20 years. I use chapters two to five of my dissertation, the historical analyses, to demonstrate the causal relationship between Chinese elite thinking on the development and change of Chinese society on the one hand, and Chinese historical practice of democracy (from 1839 till the current time, including “Leninist democracy”) on the other hand, the former being the independent variable and the latter being the dependent variable. The method used in chapters two to five is historiography, I develop my causal analysis based on extensive reading of historians’ and social scientists’ works. And then I use chapters six to eight of my dissertation , the interviews, as the most current information that reveals Chinese social trends toward the next 20 years, and make an assessment of whether, in the next 20 years (2004-2024), China will become a western style, multiparty democracy—and if the answer is yes, what that democracy will look like. For example, one could argue that such a democracy will be a combination of western democracy (based on the value of individualism) and Chinese culture (based on the value of collectivism). My judgment is based on chapters two to five, the historical analyses of the long-term trend, and chapters six to eight, the information gained from the interviewees. The method used in chapters six to eight is face to face, in-depth interviews. The interviewees come from the four elite groups in the current Chinese society: government officials, the enterprise people, media professionals, and intellectuals. The interview question does not directly ask question about democracy; rather, it asks the interviewee’s personal opinions about “the positive or negative factors that have been driving or limiting the development and change of X city (in the context of development and change of Chinese society since 1839), carrying it toward the next 20 years.” So the interviewees do not directly talk about democracy—they just express their views on positive and negative factors that might influence the development and change of the city that they are in. Because in urban development one can best experience the tension between traditional values and modern values, the development and change of a city (in the context of the development and change of Chinese society since 1839) and how people deal with it in their thinking should reveal information about the social trends.
The major findings are these: 55.5 % of the interviewees are pro-democracy; 22.2 % of them are not pro-democracy; 16.6 % of them are not concerned about the issue of democracy in China; and 5.5 % of them are uncertain. I have found substantial evidence of favorable prospects for democracy. So my conclusion is: China has favorable prospects for becoming a multiparty democracy; any democratic system that emerges likely will be a Confucian democracy (communal or social democracy); the Chinese culture will become a combination of liberalism and Confucianism; the balance of traditional elements (Confucianism) and modern elements (liberalism) will depend on each individual’s free will and free choice; the process of democratization will start with the intellectuals, and then spread to the whole nation. Finally, this democratization process will likely happen in the next 20 years (2004 to 2024), based on responses from the person I interviewed.
Lu, Rey-ching, "Chinese Democracy: How Elite Thinking on China's Development and Change Influences Chinese Practice of Democracy (1839--the Current Time)" (2009). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 386.
Received from ProQuest
International law, Political Science