Democracy for example, is cultural.
Back then, under the feudal system in middle aged Europe, the kings were checked by the nobility, who supplied the troops to their kings if ever called to war. However, if the king ever angered his nobles, they could rally against him. There was a check and balance system in place. When the nobles successfully revolted against King John of England, they forced him to sign the Magna Carta, thus limiting the crown's authority to a parliamentary institution set forth by the nobility. This Magna Carta would eventually lead to today's modern liberal western democracy. In China, the government has always been centralized for millenniums, and the powers of the nobility were drastically reduced. "One emperor" was the notion, basically. That's why today China is an authoritarian country, because its culture has been for thousands of years.