The Peoples Daily vs. the New York Times
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 1, 2014
Summary: Human society should not be limited to only one way of doing things.
Single, stagnant models are unsustainable. Advocates of the Chinese
Model and the American Model should reflect upon each other's strength
and weaknesses. They should attempt to integrate the two, and adopt what
is right while rejecting whatever is wrong. They should consider local
conditions. It may be that human society should seek a balance between
democracy and authoritarianism, freedom and discipline, and openness and
Full Text Below:
The People's Daily recently mocked the U.S. railway system in a long article entitled, "The United States' Dream of a High-Speed Rail System Has Become the World's Joke." The New York Times promptly lashed back, criticizing the Mainland HSR for waste and corruption.
The People's Daily article provided examples. A scheduled six or seven hour trip from Washington to Boston, took 13 hours merely because it rained. Obama's dream of a high-speed rail system remains stalled, and has made absolutely no progress. The article concluded that the American system has problems. Divided government and partisan bickering have made the high-speed rail project a victim. Both Xinhua and Huanqiu have reprinted the article in its entirety.
The New York Times responded promptly to the People's Daily with an article entitled, "China Touts Itself as Winner in High-Speed Rail Stakes." The article claimed that low capital cost was the reason for the success of the Mainland's high-speed rail system. It ridiculed the Mainland, saying, "... the rapid development of high-speed rail in China, often with lax oversight, has not been without problems, including corruption, cost overruns and deadly accidents." The article also pointed out that former Minister of Railways Liu Zhijun was removed from office and sentenced to death for corruption, and only received a reprieve in 2011.
These two diametrically opposed articles reflect the rise of China in the 21st century, and the resurgence of a battle over political and economic models. This battle over models has been a major topic in contemporary social theory. During the industrial revolution and the advent of industrial capitalism, the British Model was considered the only way for a modern society to develop. The market economy and free trade were regarded as the proper economic model, and Great Britain's system of democracy and constitutionalism were regarded as the proper political model.
Prussia chose to use the power of the state to promote economic development, to create a unified country, and to promote a nationalist ideology. This has been referred to as the Prussian Model. Britain and Germany represented two models of Western capitalism. These came to be known as the Anglo-Saxon Model or Anglo-American Model, and the Rhineland Model. The core of the Anglo-American Model was the free market and free trade. The core of the Rhineland Model was state intervention and social welfare. What the Anglo-American Model and the Rhineland Model have in common is capitalism.
Capitalism led to strong competition. Communism constituted a major threat, Among these the most representative was the Soviet Model. The core of the Soviet Model is the planned economy and one-party dictatorship. The planned economy concentrated political power and economic resources. This enabled the Soviet economy to grow rapidly during its early stages of development. The swift revival of the Soviet Union after World War II relative to the slow growth of capitalism, led people to consider the Soviet Model as an alternative for human society. But the drawbacks of the Stalinist regime and the Soviet model gradually became apparent. Totalitarianism was brutal. The Soviet economy experienced problems with bureaucracy and inefficiency. By the Brezhnev era, the Soviet Union's technology and economy were stagnant. Social and cultural despotism resulted in a loss of vitality. The Soviet Model lacked the capacity for self-adjustment and self-renewal, and eventually collapsed.
The Chinese Model is the product of Communist camp self-introspection regarding the Soviet Model. Mao Zedong mobilized the masses and fought the bureaucracy. He proved that his approach was infeasible. Deng Xiaoping and his successors embraced economic liberalization to avoid stagnation and any loss of vitality. They embraced personal freedom, enabling people to pursue successs, money, and consumer goods. They adopted political centralization and social control to maintain overall stability while suppressing potential dissent.
The Deng Xiaoping path led to 30 years of rapid development. Growth was sometimes poor and social chaos often prevailed. During the Xi Jinping era, the Communist Party made earth-shaking changes. It promulgated the Chinese Dream and resolutely fought corruption. It alleviated grievances, greatly enhancing the legitimacy of Communist Party rule. The Chinese Communist Party often claims that it is a political party capable of endless self-renewal. Xi Jinping's reforms suggest this may be true.
Indian-born Singaporean Foreign Minister Kishore Mahbubani wrote a book entitled "The New Asian Hemisphere." Mahbubani's primary driver in the Asian hemisphere is China. In recent years US power has been on the wane. China has rapidly risen. Mahbubani's prophecy was clearly accurate. In recent years, a debate over the Chinese Model vs. the American Model has emerged. The main reason is that the American Model has sustained grievous injuries. Financial turmoil on Wall Street resulting from the greed of capitalism, led to global doubts. The War on Terror launched after 9/11 revealed the recrudescence of imperialism. It undermined the fundamental values of openness and human rights in the United States. The rays of light of the "American Dream" that reigned from the end of World War II to the Reagan and Clinton era, have dimmed.
The American Model is fading, highlighting the rise of the Chinese Model.
In fact, human society should not be limited to only one way of doing things. Single, stagnant models are unsustainable. Advocates of the Chinese Model and the American Model should reflect upon each other's strength and weaknesses. They should attempt to integrate the two, and adopt what is right while rejecting whatever is wrong. They should consider local conditions. It may be that human society should seek a balance between democracy and authoritarianism, freedom and discipline, and openness and control.