Democracy’s ‘Dangers’

The Wall Street Journal

Copyright The Wall Street Journal
May 2, 2006, WSJ
Did you know that most U.S. presidents over the 200 years “were only of
mediocre calibre”? Or that democracy was responsible for electing not
only Hitler and Mussolini but also someone else equally “evil” —
Taiwan’s pro-independence President Chen Shui-bian?
That’s right, China’s been lecturing the rest of the world on the evils
of democracy once again. At a seminar in Beijing Thursday, “legal
scholars” explained why Chinese people — or just about anyone else,
for
that matter — can’t be trusted to choose their leaders. “Blind worship
of universal suffrage” is to be abhorred, declared Professor Xu Chongde
of People’s University, after he’d finished slandering Washington and
Lincoln.
His immediate target was Hong Kong, where a local paper had suggested a
day earlier that the territory’s Beijing-appointed Chief Executive
Donald Tsang might propose an eventual shift to universal suffrage for
the election of future Hong Kong leaders. The irony is that the
newspaper was almost certainly off the mark. Aides to Mr. Tsang
expressed “bewilderment” at the report.
Prof. Xu and his colleagues, who are renowned for parroting the Chinese
government’s line, laid down a long list of conditions that need to be
fulfilled before universal suffrage can even be contemplated in China’s
most prosperous city — let alone the rest of the country. Mixed in
among the usual excuses (no community consensus, no draconian
national-security laws, etc.) was one that goes to the heart of
Beijing’s fear of democracy. Hong Kong people, Prof. Xu declared, won’t
be allowed to choose their leaders until they can be trusted to choose
Chinese “patriots.” In other words, until Beijing is sure they will
choose the “right” people.
China, as one of its advisers in Hong Kong once memorably declared,
doesn’t want to rig elections — but it does like to know the results
in
advance. And until Prof. Xu and his colleagues can work out how to
solve
that conundrum, it seems democracy is simply too dangerous to
contemplate.

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