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Chinese Political Reform Part 1: Hear the Evil, See the Evil, Speak the Evil Most Americans

are proud of their political system. It may have problems, and people are always trying to game the system, but as Churchill said, democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried. Everyone knows that big business and special interest groups can have a huge influence on politics. But since politicians are elected by citizens, in the end they have to do right by us. As an example: If you are mayor, and you want to be governor, sure you will probably accept donations from business who operate or want to operate in your state, but the people who vote will look at your record as mayor, and whether or not the people of your city were satisfied with you. But imagine for a second that it didnt work that way. The Chinese political system is the philosophical opposite of the American system. Chinas topdown politics means that if you want to rise through the ranks, the only people you have to please are your superiors. Of course you cant do things that make the population hate your guts; however, those at the top have very different goals and desires compared to most citizens. The Economist and other publications have discussed this fact; officials are essentially graded on their performance like gymnasts at the Olympics. However, what gets top marks from senior Communist Party officials is often in opposition to what average citizens desire. There are examples of village leaders getting farmers to apply for loans and then appropriating the money for themselves. After the last Sichuan earthquake, the man who sought to determine the actual number of dead and hold accountable those who built buildings to substandard levels has been harassed and possibly imprisoned by the government. Chen Guangcheng, a blind lawyer who was kept under illegal house arrest for months as punishment for supporting poor villagers against corrupt officials, had to flee in the middle of the night and escape into the arms of America. But the most horrifying example of this must be the spate of forced abortions occurring across China. China has its one-child policy, but it also has a law which states that abortions after six months of gestation are illegal, regardless of whether the birth is in violation of the policy or not. Pictures circulated on the internet this past June of a woman in Shandong in a hospital bed, her seven-month-old fetus lying dead next to her. Her husband was off trying to raise money to pay for the birth (the fee for having an extra child is in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars), and while he was gone officials came and forced her to sign a document giving them permission to abort the fetus. This has been occurring for years and is not restricted to merely one province. This problem is as endemic as it is abhorrent. There is a misconception that China is a very rule-based country. Anyone who spends ten minutes trying to cross the street or standing in line at the subway watching people cut in line will tell you otherwise. The main rule which applies in China is the other golden rule: whoever has the gold makes the rules. Those with power or influence can often run roughshod over those less fortunate, and those affected have little to no recourse to seek justice and satisfaction. There is not just a sense of helplessness in seeking potential redress, but many average people have come to doubt they will ever climb the economic ladder. There is a serious sense of disenfranchisement with the way things work in China, and it is not clear how this can be remedied. Stay tuned for part 2.