Just The Facts

Is China’s One-Party Rule Undemocratic?

Can one-party rule enable consensus, competence, the competition of ideas and a can-do spirit?

Chinese President Xi Jinping (Credit: Kaliva - Shutterstock.com)


  • There is nothing new about one-party governance in China.
  • In most of the one-party-rule era, China was better governed and more prosperous than Europe of the same epoch.
  • China’s top decision-makers have administered a population of about 100 million before assuming posts in Beijing.

1. There is nothing new about one-party governance in China.

2. Since its first unification in 221 BC, China practiced a kind of one-party rule or rule by a unified Confucian elite for most of the past two millennia.

3. In most of the one-party-rule era, China was arguably a better-governed country and a more prosperous economy than Europe of the same epoch.

4. China only began to lag behind Europe when it closed its door to the outside world and missed the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century.

5. The Communist Party of China (CPC) has to a great extent followed the Confucian tradition and built a system of selecting its leaders based on merit and performance.

6. The CPC’s top decision-makers worked as party secretaries or governors at the provincial level (to be specific, 6 out of 7 Politburo’s Standing Committee members).

7. China’s top political managers have on average each administered a population of about 100 million before being promoted to their current positions in Beijing.

8. The word “party” may be a misnomer for the CPC, as it bears no similarity with the parties in western countries, each of which represents distinct group interests.

9. China’s Communist Party contains many different interests, which compete with one another on ideas, competence, consensus and can-do spirit.

10. In China’s own political tradition, the CPC has tried to represent the interests of the overwhelming majority of people, who apparently accept this.

From The Five Reasons Why China Works by Zhang Weiwei (Director of the Centre for China Development Model Research, Fudan University, Shanghai), based on an article in the Huffington Post.



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Responses to “Is China’s One-Party Rule Undemocratic?”

Archived Comments.

  1. On April 1, 2014 at 2:36 pm panasian responded with... #

    China never closed it’s door to the outside in the pre- modern times ( the 16th- 19th centuries). As a matter of fact , Qing dynasty under the reign of emperor Qianlong 1735-1799) was the richest country in the world and also the trade with Europe was thriving. During this time period (the 16th- 19th centuries), about 40% of the silver minted in the Americas, ended up in China, because of the European thirst for such Chinese goods as silk and porcelain. Consequently Europe suffered massive trade deficits vis a vis China. This was the main reason for the infamous Opium War in the 19th century. Europe overtook China in science and math in the 17th century as a result of the Renaissance but was still behind China in technology until the late18th century when the Industrial Revolution began. Even in the Greco- Roman times, Ancient China was way ahead of Europe in technology.

  2. On April 2, 2014 at 1:47 pm Ormond Otvos responded with... #

    First intelligent discussion of China’s governance I’ve seen.