Chinese repression isn’t the way forward

The Western capitalist model is inherently problematic with massive over-consumption and a gross disregard for human rights (if corporations get in the way). But this really isn’t an alternative and viable model:

The “discipline” of China’s authoritarian political system should be considered as a potential recipe for economic growth in Africa and other developing regions, South African President Jacob Zuma says.

Mr. Zuma, on a four-day official visit to China, criticized the West and lavished praise on his Chinese hosts as he described a world where dynamism is “shifting from North to South and from West to East.”

His unexpected praise for the authoritarian Chinese system, coming from the leader of one of Africa’s biggest democracies, is further evidence of Beijing’s growing influence in Africa. Within the space of a few years, China has emerged to become Africa’s second-biggest trading partner and a key source of support for its governments.

Last year, China overtook the United States to become the biggest trading partner of South Africa, the richest economy on the continent.

Mr. Zuma made it clear that he is tired of hearing advice from Western governments that demand Western-style democratic systems. Instead, he suggested, the developing world is ready to learn political lessons from the dramatic rise of China, where opposition is muzzled and dissent is crushed.

“In the past, economists from the developed countries told the developing countries that they should behave more like the developed countries,” Mr. Zuma said on Wednesday in a lecture at Renmin University in Beijing.

“The developing world was told that if it did not Westernize and change its political systems to mirror those of the West, they could forget about achieving economic growth and development. Now we are asking what we could learn from other political systems and cultures. Is the political discipline in China a recipe for economic success, for example?”

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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