Since its founding in 1949, China has been an authoritarian state. China is a prime example of an authoritarian system that has persisted despite the use of a number of repressive tactics, including political ideology, restrictions on the freedoms of assembly, expression, and movement, regime control of the media, constant state surveillance of the populace, use of the security apparatus, and other methods.
The Chinese government imposes strict controls on most aspects of daily life, which for some people makes life very challenging.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is unquestionably in control of the authoritarian political system that governs the geopolitical entity known as the People’s Republic of China. While simultaneously abandoning the legal reforms that were previously put in place during the 1990s and early 2000s, the Chinese government has recently enacted increasingly strict regulatory measures to control the media and civil society.
A communist ideology, a state-run economy, and total control over every aspect of citizens’ lives were imposed by the party leadership, led by Mao Zedong, after the revolution of 1949 in an effort to modernize the country. Unfortunately, these actions caused severe famine and political unrest. However, the current reform era was initiated by the Chinese government under Deng Xiaoping in the latter half of the 1970s. They loosened the restrictions that were in place in terms of ideology and the economy, which resulted in a remarkable three-decade economic expansion. China’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown tenfold as a result, overtaking Japan to become the second-largest economy in the world and becoming a superpower.
Undoubtedly, a nation plagued by numerous problems, including inter and intra-state conflict and poverty, was transformed when the People’s Republic of China was established in 1949. In the present day, China’s rapid economic growth has solidified its position as a world economic force. In fact, it is well-known for its unrelenting brutality, ingrained contempt for the essential liberties of expression and action, a privileged ruling class with no accountability to the Chinese populace, and the repression of oppositional political parties that would challenge the Communist Party for the coveted leadership position. Therefore, by every metric imaginable, China represents an authoritarian state, which is an unavoidable fact that cannot be denied.
On the other hand, painting a complete picture of China as a callous, evil regime that violates human rights is to misrepresent a nation with a rich historical legacy that must be preserved. China’s imperial past, which was characterized by stupendous acts of greatness, and the shameful chapter of foreign oppression that occurred during the century of humiliation have left an indelible mark on the Chinese psyche, inspiring a persistent desire to project strength and invincibility to the outside world. This is done in an effort to prevent a repeat of the hardships of the past. Although fundamentally different from the Western model, China’s democracy still adheres to the same principles of equity and justice. The candidates are chosen using a strict and open process, and the confidentiality of the voting booth guarantees the anonymity of the voters. Additionally, the government funds each candidate equally, eliminating the corrupting effect that wealth has on election results.
However, it is also important to note that China’s constitution explicitly protects women’s rights, eliminating the type of gender-based discrimination that exists in other authoritarian states.
It is incorrect to categorize China as an authoritarian state, despite the fact that its political system may fit this description.
One that acknowledges the fusion of socialism with Chinese characteristics, a peculiar system that combines China’s particular historical, cultural, and political realities to produce a sui generis character, is a more nuanced and accurate representation of China’s governance model to some extent.
Nonetheless, the assertive authoritarianism of China poses a direct and immediate threat to the existing liberal international order. The Chinese government is assiduously pursuing an expansionist agenda that aims to increase the state’s influence over personal freedoms and rights while also attempting to spread the principles of its autocratic model throughout the world. It also seeks to prevent other countries from adopting ideologies or taking actions that differ from those of the Beijing regime. With regard to these initiatives, China has made significant progress, supporting autocratic rulers in Africa and reducing the propensity of many multinational corporations to recognize Taiwan or the South China Sea as being separate from the Chinese mainland.
Nadir Ali holds a degree in Strategic and Nuclear Studies from the National Defense University, Islamabad, Pakistan. He has written for Modern Diplomacy, Pakistan Observer, Pakistan Today, and numerous other publishers. He tweets at @hafiznadirali7 and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org