Sun, May 14, 2017 - Page 6 News List

China’s politics need transparency

By Doug Bandow

The lack of clarity and predictability also affects international relations. Much is at risk in Asia. North Korea is under sanction, Taiwan leans toward independence. A ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague placed greater pressure on the PRC over its expansive territorial claims.

How will Beijing’s upcoming leadership transition affect these issues? No one knows. At least foreign leaders would have been aware of the critical differences between, say, former US president Bill Clinton and Trump, even if their exact policies might evolve once in office.

Of course, no nation has an obligation to create a political system to satisfy foreigners, but here the interests of the Chinese coincide with those of outsiders. And if Beijing aspires to global leadership, it is likely to find a warmer welcome if the rest of the world has a better sense as to who decides what.

Politics seem to inevitably frustrate, irrespective of country, but they are not always mysterious. Other dominant one-party states, such as Singapore, have been more open and accessible than China. Such an approach better accommodates an increasingly wealthy and sophisticated public.

The ongoing Chinese leadership change will be orchestrated under the old rules, which means no one outside of a chosen few know what is going on. However, the new leaders should think beyond the present.

China is a great nation with extraordinary potential. However, it faces equally significant challenges. It would fare better with a more transparent political system. China’s leaders are likely to find it ever harder to hide their most important decisions from public view.

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to then-US president Ronald Reagan.

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