Democracy Crushed in China… Again

By Chris Chappell
Chris Chappell
Chris Chappell
September 16, 2016 Updated: September 16, 2016

You know, a lot of people have said that China just isn’t ready for democracy. There’s too many people, who aren’t educated enough, and, as former Chinese minister of Foreign Affairs, Li Zhaoxing said, “transportation is not developed in some places, so direct election will be difficult.”

Yes, bad roads are the reason China doesn’t have democracy. Doesn’t stop New York, though.

But back to Chinese democracy! Highly anticipated for years, promised but pushed back multiple times, and then ultimately banned in China for being too controversial. Wait, sorry, that’s the well-intentioned but ultimately mediocre Guns N’ Roses album. I never thought that Axl Rose would be one of the most woke celebrities on China.

But for real Chinese democracy, look no further than wukan Village in China’s Southern Guangdong Province.

In 2011, the entire village erupted into protests. Their local communist officials were taking villagers’ land and selling it to real estate developers for huge profits. Something that’s happened in countless villages across China for years. But in Wukan, villagers put up barricades and kicked out the officials. But instead of villagers getting Tiananmen Square’d, Wang Yang, the Party Secretary for Guangdong Province, stepped in.

Surprisingly, instead of brutally crushing the protesters, he let the Wukan villagers vote for new officials. And they elected Lin Zuluan—one of the protest leaders. This was an unprecedented moment in modern Chinese history, where the Communist Party backed down in the face of protests—and allowed for real democratic elections.Media began referring to it as the Wukan model.

Some people thought that soon this kind of local-level democracy could be implemented everywhere across China. However, it didn’t last long, as evidenced by recent civil unrest in Wukan, and its brutal reprisals by the CCP. Apparently the Wukan model is to briefly allow democracy, and then crush it.

And you know what? Even during the period when democracy worked in Wukan, it didn’t really work. After villagers elected Lin Zuluan to represent them, he found himself immediately blocked from doing—well, anything—by officials the next level up. So five years later, much of the land taken from villagers has still not been returned.

Frustrated by this, “three months ago Lin Zuluan had threatened to bring his people back out on to the streets.”

Unbelievable! How dare he ask for the thing that he was promised five years ago? And they did arrest him. Not for threatening to hold public protests, mind you. But for taking tens of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks. And if you think those are just trumped-up charges, you couldn’t be more wrong. While being detained by authorities, Lin admitted to the charges! And by admitted, I mean confessed on state-run CCTV. So you know it’s legit.

Good thing they suddenly discovered his bribes and kickbacks right before he was about to mobilize those pesky protesters! And last week, they formally sentenced Lin Zuluan to three years in prison. That makes Lin now the third democratically elected village official involved with the 2011 Wukan protests to be imprisoned by authorities. Two others were jailed in 2014.

In 2014, the authorities jailed two other village leaders who helped lead the uprising in 2011 that garnered international attention.

And there you have it: Proof that democracy is a terrible idea, because clearly the uninformed citizens only elect criminals. But for some reason, Wukan villagers seem to suspect something fishy is going on. After Lin Zuluan was arrested in June, they started protesting his detention. Oddly enough, while waving the flag and shouting “long live the Communist Party.”

wukan arrest protest

I know it looks like there’s some kind of disconnect here. But it’s actually pretty smart, in a way. Can the Communist Party really accuse you of subverting state power, when you’re cheering for them? What are they going to do, crack down on these people? Back to that in a moment.

We have so much footage of the protests in Wukan, partly because Western media have been reporting from there. And authorities have been trying to drive the reporters out. Back in June, one BBC reporter expressed his concern that if he were to leave, riot police might be sent in. But that’s silly, as one local official assured him. It’s only that reporter’s fantasy!

As head of the Guangdong provincial press office I can guarantee you that your fantasy will never happen.

The reporter eventually left for a while. And guess what? His fantasy came true! The riot police were sent in to restore social harmony, bearing peace offerings of tear gas and rubber bullets.

So now it’s time to ask the most important question of all: Who’s fault is it? Fortunately, my favorite state-run media Global Times has done a thorough investigation. According to this editorial, “some foreign media have been unscrupulously inciting, planning, and directing chaos.”

Yes, “foreign media” are to blame! Those unscrupulous Western reporters have been stirring up trouble just so they can camp out for weeks in some podunk village in the backwaters of China and promote their agenda of so-called “human rights” to undermine the Communist Party!

But you know what really undermines the Communist Party? Democracy. Free elections. Because if people are allowed to elect their own representatives, and those representatives are actually permitted to do their jobs, then how can the Communist Party control things?

The truth is, while the Communist Party is in power, it’s never going to give up control. In fact, the “leadership of the Communist Party” is literally written into the Chinese constitution. So, yeah, that’s not going away.

And anyone who tries to change the status quo can be in trouble.

Remember Wang Yang? The Party Secretary of Guangdong Province five years ago? Well, he was the one who arranged for Wukan have those elections in the first place. And it seemed like a clever way at the time of avoiding unrest while making the Party look good. But a lot of his political opponents, including people in the decrepit-toad-with-glasses faction, were upset that Wang allowed this democratic experiment to happen.

Some analysts say that, now, Wang Yang’s political rivals are actually the ones behind the events that led up to the new Wukan protests this year. Because the chaos shows that Wang’s experiment failed. And making Wang look bad is part of a political strategy, because word on the street is that Wang’s homie-in-chief Xi Jinping may be looking to place Wang in a new position, where he would replace one of these political rivals. That would be harder to do if Wang is discredited.

And Jiang Zemin’s faction really needs a win right now, because one of their own just got purged. Oh sorry, I mean, placed under investigation for corruption. Basically, it’s China’s Game of Thrones.

So what do you think? Leave your comments below.