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The Contender
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China Is a democracy

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/16/2017 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,524 times Debate No: 99007
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (3)
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China is often criticized for not being a democracy. While its system does not conform to how mainstream Western thought thinks a democracy should be run China's government is in fact a form of democracy.

China has competitive elections.

In China there are competitive elections at the local level. Then those elected at the local level elect the people at each higher level. Effectively this means that everyone takes part in deciding who will be elected at higher levels of government through their choice of people at a lower level. Similarly in the United States people vote for electors who represent them at the electoral college, rather than voting for president directly.

Everyone who is a citizen aged 18 years or older can vote in the elections in China.

For a candidate to be nominated they may be nominated by a political party (not just the Communist Party), mass organizations, and any voter seconded by at least 3 others.

Voting is done by secret ballot, and voters are entitled to recall elections.

There are multiple political parties in China. Not every party is allowed, but similarly there are many countries in Europe which ban Communist parties and National Socialist or Fascist parties.

Some may argue that the CCP is so powerful that China is a de facto one party state. While true this does not negate China being a democracy. In Japan the Liberal Democratic Party has held majority power since 1955. But few would argue against Japan being considered a democracy. Other parties are allowed in China as long as they do not threaten the existence of the state or the existence of socialism. Really no different than how some countries ban parties which threaten the existence of democracy or which promote ideologies such as fascism or communism which the government wishes to keep from having a chance of getting a hold of power.

Freedom of speech

It is true that China does not allow people to just say anything they want, but neither do most countries accepted as democracies. Germany for example bans parties that advocate hatred or extremist ideologies or denies the Holocaust occurred. Is Germany not a democracy? Even the United States has limitations on freedom of speech. Granted these limitations are smaller than most other countries. Supreme Court rulings and prevailing legal norms have the “imminent lawless action” test as the standard.

Whether China is right or wrong for its speech restrictions if Con wants to argue that the speech restrictions make China “not a democracy” Con will have to rationally explain how the line is drawn for what speech can be restricted or prohibited and what can not while still calling a country a democracy.

Looking forward to the response.


I'll post links to my sources in the next round, due to that I had computer issues. I feared I was going to have to forfeit this debate, but I should just post something, even though I can't offer the links.

Definition of democracy
This debate largely depends on the definition of "democracy". I would argue that there is no country which has a democracy today, as most have republics or parliamentary monarchies. Pro didn't offer any definition of democracy, so I choose to go by that it means the people directly vote for the laws of the nation and are the ones who have the power in the nation, where there are no politicians or leaders. Democracy, literally means rule of the people. The people do not rule in most countries today, and rather, politicans do in most countries. China is very much the same.

China's ranking on the democracy index
Even if you want to liberally apply the term democracy to include countries that elect their leaders, when one looks at the democracy index 2015, China is ranked as an authoritarian regime at 3.14 on the 0-10 scale, it's not even a democracy or a flawed democracy. [1]

Limitation of political parties
Now, my opponent points out that China has other political parties which would help make it a democracy. However, these parties are not free. They are forced to be subservient to the China Communist party and accept the CCP as the ruling party in order to be allowed to exist.[2] No true democracy would do such a thing. I would argue that a true democracy would also never ban any political parties. In the United States, for example, communist and socialist parties are not banned. They still exist even though they directly oppose the way of life for America. I would hold China to the same standard: it should not ban any political parties even if they are directly opposed to the way of life in China.

The fact that some republics ban political parties, it means, in my opinion, they are a little less democratic. I argue, that, banning free speech or limiting it in any way also makes your country a little less democratic. China does both of these things, and China bans free speech in many instances, as my opponent has agreed.

Free speech
Now, my opponent says that con should offer an explanation for a line that is to be drawn for what speech can be restricted but still allow a country to be a democracy. I say there is not a specific line. To be a full democracy, ranked as a 10, which no country is a perfect 10 on the democracy index, you need to not limit any free speech. If free speech is limited, the more limited it is, the further away from a perfect democracy the country gets.

Free speech is so limited in China, the average citizen cannot even express any discontent with the Chinese adminstration, and this is reserved only for an elite group of people [3]. No modern republic that is ranked highly on the democracy index, does this. Some of them have some limitations on free speech, but not to the degree that you can't even express disapproval with the current administration.

China's supposed "competitive" elections
Pro claims that china has competitice elections. If they were competitive, there would be a chance for someone other than a member of the China communist party to take office, but as you can see on the wiki page on this topic, candidates outside of the China Communist Party face government intervention that undermines their candidacy, and in practive, the power of other parties and candidates are elliminated [4]. No true democracy would do this.

[1] Wikipedia, "Democracy Index"
[2] Wikipedia, "List of political parties in the People's Republic of China"
[3], "Freedom of Expression in China: A Privilege, Not a Right"
[4] Wikipedia, "Elections in the People's Republica of China"
Debate Round No. 1


Direct v Representative Democracy

"Democracy" is commonly understood to include both direct democracy where the people make laws directly and representative democracy where people rule through their elected representatives. Con is trying to define democracy in a way that excludes representative democracy in spite of the widespread use of the term that way. This is not consistent with the way the word is generally understood and used among either lay people or among politicians, lawyers, or scholars.

A clear line may not be distinguishable, but as "democracy" means "people rule" then it makes sense that "democracy" should be defined primarily on whether or not the people control the government. The people may do this either directly or through elected representatives who are accountable to the people. In the case of China the government is accountable to the people, and I will demonstrate that in my arguments.

A Selection of the Preamble of the Chinese Constitution


I would've posted the preamble but I ran out of space. So here's a few passages,

The Chinese people waged wave upon wave of heroic struggles for national independence and liberation and for democracy and freedom.

After waging hard, protracted and tortuous struggles, [...] won the great victory of the new-democratic revolution and founded the People's Republic of China. Thereupon the Chinese people took state power into their own hands and became masters of the country.

The Chinese Constitution itself clearly refers to China as a democracy. This does not automatically make it a democracy, but if a nation claims to be a democracy then the burden of proof should fall upon those saying it is not a democracy, especially if the people debating it are from a foreign society. It's hardly democratic for Americans or Westerners to decide what form of government China should have.

More evidence can be found in the Constitution...

In Article 2 it states that "All power in the People's Republic of China belongs to the people." laying out the National People's Congress and various lower level Congresses as the representative bodies for exercising this power.

In Article 3 it states "The National People's Congress and the local people's congresses at different levels are instituted through democratic election. They are responsible to the people and subject to their supervision."

And indeed the National People's Congress is democratically elected. Members serve for 5-year terms. They are elected by the provincial people's assembly. In turn the provincial people's assembly is elected by a lower level assembly, and so on (the exact number of assemblies depends on the jurisdiction in question) until you get to the local people's assembly which is directly elected by its constituents.

The presidency is also elected for 5-year terms by the National People's Congress.

Advantages of multi-tiered representative democracy

This system has the advantage of people voting for their representatives close to home. Since each directly elected representative is representing a smaller number of people they will care more about the needs of their constituents. And when the representatives get together and elect people at higher levels their constituents' needs determines how they vote. In this way it is better than the people voting directly for national representatives. A national representative representing millions of people won't be able to connect as directly with his constituents, and would be more beholden to special interests. In a multi-tiered representative democracy those at higher levels have to be mostly concerned with the opinions of which ever lower-level assembly voted them into office, and since each assembly is elected by either a lower assembly until you get to the voters themselves this promotes a balanced consideration of the needs of various groups of voters.

The Ability to recall

Article 63 of the Chinese Constitution states that the National People's Congress may recall the president as well as various other national government officials. Article 77 states that those electoral units which elect members of the National People's Congress may in turn recall them. Local People's Congresses also have the power to recall national officials such as governors and mayors under Article 101. Article 102 ensures that a people's congress at any level may be recalled by the people's congress below it or by their constituents if it is the people's congress at the lowest level.

The United States Constitution affords no such right of recall. In this way China is more democratic than the United States.

The Role of the Communist Party

China's Constitution does recognize a special role for the Chinese Communist Party. Nevertheless, the Constitution also protects multi-party democracy.

In the Chinese Constitution's 2nd amendment:

"The system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation led by the Communist Party of China will exist and develop in China for a long time to come.'"

Whereas Con claims that the other parties can't win because of opposition from the government they do win. 830 people in the National People's Congress are members of other political parties. The second-largest of these parties is the continuation of the left-wing of the Kuomintang, the nationalist party which lost to the CCP in the revolution. That they were allowed to speak freely, and run in elections after the revolution suggests there is a wide latitude when it comes to which parties are allowed to contest elections in China. The 3rd largest party is the China Democratic League, which was started as a pro-democracy party in China as an alternative to the Kuomintang and the Communist Party. The government lead by the Kuomintang had actually banned the China Democratic League before the end of the Chinese Civil War. The government lead by the CCP allowed them to exist.

[2], [3]

While not all parties are allowed, the limitations on which political parties are allowed has been decided within a system of democratic representation. In fact it could be said that it would be undemocratic not to allow the people through their elected representatives to impose restrictions on which organizations may and may not field candidates for public office.

Freedom of Speech

"Democracy" in and of itself means "people rule" not "people can say what ever they want". That being said it's easy to understand how restraints on freedom of speech can weaken or even destroy democracy. If not even democratically elected public servants can't even speak freely how can they represent the needs of their constituents?

However, China's Constitution has this covered.

Article 75. Deputies to the National People's Congress may not be called to legal account for their speeches or votes at its meetings.

The representatives in the National People's Congress can discuss what they wish, so by representing their constituents the people are essentially consenting to the privileged position of the Communist Party. Even if you or I disagree that they should consent to the rule of the CCP who are we to tell them to do otherwise?

In addition China does afford some protection for freedom of speech.

Article 35. Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.

There are limitations on these rights just as there are in the United States and other countries. All countries have some limitations on freedom of speech to protect public order and competing rights. Arguably not having limitations on freedom of speech when the people either directly or through a system of representatives decides that is how they want to exercise their power is undemocratic.

Besides this the Chinese citizens can and do express grievances publicly.


There was a strike at a newspaper in Guangzhou which ended in the Guangzhou Propaganda Ministry deciding to change its policy and not intervene directly in editorial decisions.

Chinese citizens have also legally protested concerning environmental issues.


Public Support of the CCP

Con would have a stronger claim that China is not a democracy if the dominant party, the CCP were reviled by the public and yet remained in control. But this is not the case. Public opinion polls suggest strong support for the government among the Chinese citizens. The average person's support for the government was found to be at 8.0 on a 10-point scale.


Democracy Index

Lastly I question the wisdom of relying on the so-called "Democracy Index". It is run by the UK-based Economic Intelligence Unit[7]. According to its wikipedia page its purpose is "providing forecasting and advisory services through research and analysis, such as monthly country reports, five-year country economic forecasts, country risk service reports, and industry reports". In short its main purpose is to advise investors. That biases it heavily towards the demands of Western capitalist democracies, which throws its "Democracy Index" into doubt.


Constitution of China

2. wikipedia, National People's Congress's_Congress

3. wikipedia, List of political parties in the People's Republic of China's_Republic_of_China

4. Guangzhou newspaper strike

5. Environmentalist Protests in China

6. Public Support for the government in China

7. Economic Intelligence Unit



Any quotes from my opponent will be italicized.
The Chinese Constitution:
It's one thing to claim these things on paper, but it's an entirely different matter if it happens in reality. As I've been showing, they are not really that democratic in practive. They are ranked low in the democracy index, which you have yet to explain why that is false.

In addition, it should be noted that, while the people to get to vote for their representatives in China, the candidates who can run are chosen by the party[5]. Not anyone can just run like is the case in America or other countries. This limits democracy, because not everyone is free to run for office, and it has to be approved by the current administration.

Multi-tiered representative democracy:
And when the representatives get together and elect people at higher levels their constituents' needs determines how they vote. In this way it is better than the people voting directly for national representatives.
How is this better than people directly voting? The person is more likely to get their constituent's desires wrong. However, if the people vote directly for the higher up representatives, their views are represented directly rather than indirectly through someone else voting. It's more democratic to have direct voting of representatives than indirect. This argument in this whole paragraph makes no actual sense.

The right to recall
I suppose this is one instance where they are more democratic, but the vast majority of comparisons show that they are less democratic, such as how people running for office have to be approved by the party, the government gets involved in preventing certain people from being elected, and all of what I have said so far.

The role of the communist party:
"The system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation led by the Communist Party of China will exist and develop in China for a long time to come.'"
This sounds like other parties are forced to cooperate with the communist party. How is it democratic to have parties forced to cooperate with another party? Allowing pluralism is more democratic, and this is in direct violation of allowing pluralism.

830 people in the National People's Congress are members of other political parties.
Yes, but these people are forced to cooperate with the communist party. In addition, the Communist party has 2157 seats in the National People's congress.[6] To have that big of a majority, you know something is up. They likely have that large of a majority because the government gets directly involved in electing people.

While not all parties are allowed, the limitations on which political parties are allowed has been decided within a system of democratic representation.

It's not democratic when the government gets directly involved in deciding who is elected, who can run, etc. So no, it wasn't decided within a system of democratic representation. There are elections, but again, the people don't have much of a choice because the government prevents people they don't want from getting into power.

Freedom of speech
Yeah, but if someone says something that the party disagrees with, they likely make sure they never get elected to begin with, as they are directly involved in shutting people down from getting elected as I showed previously. While in theory they allow you to say whatever you want, I'm sure if you say something other than what is in line with the communist party, you will probably not get elected or re-elected because then the government will work against you. Can you show any examples of someone in office who expresses very opposing opinions to the communist party in China? I'm sure you can't. That's fishy. You can't possibly say that all 1 billion+ people in china agree with the communist party there. There would be too many differring opinions. If no one in office expresses other opinions other than what is alligned with the communist party there, then something is up.

And again, as I said, just because their constitution claims to have these freedoms, doesn't mean the country actually does in practice.

Debate Round No. 2


Democracy Index is Biased and Ranks Some Nations Highly Even Though It is Questionable Whether They are Truly Democracies
The Democracy Index is made by the Economist Intelligence Unit, which is part of the multinational media corporation, The Economist Group. It is a private corporation, it's primary purpose is to make money for its shareholders. That already makes a strong case that its "Democracy Index" is subject to bias. It is based in the UK, so naturally the business will rely more on its connections with people in Western society and in particular in British society. It also means that the people working for them and formulating the Democracy Index are more likely to have grown up in Western culture. So biases may be at play that the people involved are not even aware of.
That Western countries are democracies is itself in doubt. According to one study the United States is an oligarchy because of the concentrated influence of a few wealthy interests.
There is also evidence that the UK is more fittingly labeled an "oligarchy" rather than a democracy.

However, in China power flows from the bottom up. People vote for representatives and are capable of recalling them, which gives the representatives an incentive to care strongly about the views and needs of their constituents. Since each level of government is elected by the one below it the influence of these needs and views puts pressure on each level of government above it.
Con doesn't seem to understand my argument for why multi-tiered democracy is in fact better. It's because at the level where an office is directly elected there are fewer people within that politician's constituency. Therefore one individual can make more of an impact than they could have if the constituency were bigger. That encourages more confidence that their voices will be heard and so encourages more participation in politics.

If the national level were directly elected the constituencies would by necessity have to be bigger, diluting the impact of an individual voter. By having a multi-tiered system each level is campaigning for the votes of a smaller number of people, so at the next level up politicians must campaign for the votes of people who are directly elected and not only that directly elected by small constituencies of people. They have to weigh the concerns of these various constituencies, which are represented and advocated for by the politicians at the level below them. And they have to weigh this not only in making laws at their level of government but also in choosing (and possibly recalling) representatives at the next level. This creates an incentive throughout government to balance the interests of all the people the politician is representing.
In Western democracies that do not use this system the power of an individual voter is dilutted, if not at the local levels then at the national levels. This gives wealthy and special interests more influence, ultimately leading to an oligarchy which is only a democracy in name.

A Socialist Market Economy Is More Democratic
Another thing which makes China more democratic is that it is socialist, but it is a flexible socialism. Market forces are allowed when it is determined that it is in the best interests of the people of China. Productive forces and land belong to the people, but the people through their representatives sometimes find it to be in their best interests to give permission to businesses to engage in private competition. This system gives the people and their representatives more options in terms of public policy. In Western 'Democracies' there is such a strong taboo reinforced by monied interests and the media against socialist policies that it makes the responses of Western governments less flexible and more dogmatic. There is a large voice in Western politics which calls for "small government" as an end in and of itself without bothering to weigh the costs and benefits carefully.

Not That Hard to Run For Office
"In addition, it should be noted that, while the people to get to vote for their representatives in China, the candidates who can run are chosen by the party[5]. Not anyone can just run like is the case in America or other countries. This limits democracy, because not everyone is free to run for office, and it has to be approved by the current administration. "

On the contrary there are many ways to be approved to run for office in China. Any legally recognized political party can approve a candidate for election, as may mass organizations. And an organization doesn't even need to approve a person to run. A person can run for office even if they are approved by just three people. Petition requirements to get your name on the ballot are much more difficult in United States elections.
There are more stages in the process. There is the "discussions and consultations" stage that is necessary before a final list of candidates is made. An election committee must approve the final list. But similarly in the United States there are requirements for who can run for office.
Some states such as Texas bar felons from running for office. While there is no such rule at the federal level the House and Senate may decide these questions on a case by case basis. The House and Senate have the authority to expel any member they deem unfit or unqualified to serve.
Having procedures for determining whether someone is fit or qualified to run for office or continue serving is not inherently undemocratic. If such rules are made in a democratic system then they can be used to protect democracy from influences which could undermine it. Such systems do run the risk of becoming impediments to democracy themselves. However, having a separate "election committee" determine whether a candidate is eligible to run is less of a danger to democracy than having the elected body itself determine who is and is not eligible to run, because this way there is a separation of powers, avoiding the conflict of interests inherent in having the same elected body determine whether or not its own members are eligible for office.

Forced Cooperation?
As I have mentioned it is not even necessary to be approved by a party or organization to run for office. This is hardly "forced cooperation". If the people elect a government that wishes to express its gratitude to the Communist Party of China for its historical and continuing leading role then that is an expression of democracy. As I pointed out in the last round a study showed that the average Chinese person supports the government in power at 8.0 on a 10.0 point scale. If the people support the government in power how could it be democratic for that government to lose power?

Freedom of speech
Con questions whether there are truly differing opinions expressed in China's government. But there are. I would have provided more details but was low on time due to having a somewhat busy schedule. But here's one example.
This is from the Wall Street Journal, and it's clear from reading it that they go to great lengths to make China sound like a dictatorship. However, what the article is about is that the National People's Congress has recently had an increase in debates among their members. This means that there is room for discussion and debate.
China does restrict freedom of speech. I will grant you that. However, this is to prevent sedition. These speech restrictions come from laws passed by democratically elected officials and the aim of the laws is to protect social stability, ultimately to prevent the possibility of the democratic government of China from being overthrown from radical or outside influences. Other countries through their own supposedly democratically elected governments have similar restrictions. Some European countries such as Hungary even ban symbolism and speech in favor of communism even if the speakers claim to want to elect a Communist Party within the framework of a Western-style electoral system.


Re: Democracy Index
Since my opponent objects to the Democracy index, I'll present a google scholar search of many scientific, peer-reviewed studies mentioning China as an authoritarian state or measuring its authoritarianism[7]. In addition, when google scholar searching for "China Democratic" very few of them claim China is democratic[8], where some of them are measuring how China might be somewhat democratic on the local level, but very authoritarian nationally. Most of them don't say China is democratic over all.

I completely agree that many western nations are not actually democratic. I do agree that the democracy index ranks several nations too high, but I think it's pretty accurate for the countries that are authoritarian though. As the peer-reviewed scientific studies I linked to show, China is in fact authoritarian and the democracy index would be approximately correct in ranking China where it did.

Re: Recalls in China
I'm looking for evidence that China allows recalls, but I am not finding any. China is also not listed as a country that does recalls on the wikipedia page about it[9]. Perhaps my opponent can offer evidence that China allows recalls?

"Con doesn't seem to understand my argument for why multi-tiered democracy is in fact better. It's because at the level where an office is directly elected there are fewer people within that politician's constituency. Therefore one individual can make more of an impact than they could have if the constituency were bigger. That encourages more confidence that their voices will be heard and so encourages more participation in politics."
I think this is largely dependent on who has more power though: the local governments, or the national government? If the local governments are so weak that they can't really do much for their constituents, then this point doesn't matter, since the national government may be the one with all the power. China, is, for some reason, one of those countries I can find little information on... probably because of them being authoritarian. Seriously, just try to look up information on which level of government in China is stronger, and it doesn't really come up with anything. The same can be said of a lot of other things about China too if you try to look them up. I say the fact that one can find very little information on China is evidence that helps me out for trying to prove that they are authoritarian lol.

"If the national level were directly elected the constituencies would by necessity have to be bigger, diluting the impact of an individual voter. By having a multi-tiered system each level is campaigning for the votes of a smaller number of people, so at the next level up politicians must campaign for the votes of people who are directly elected and not only that directly elected by small constituencies of people"
But, since they are directly elected by the smaller government officials, wouldn't they only care about the desires of the smaller government officials? Why would national level government officials care at all what the people want when the people are not the ones who vote for them? By having smaller government elect the next tiered government, the people have no say in what the national government does. So, would you rather have a diluted vote, or not being represented directly at all?

What you're saying in this paragraph assumes that the more local authorities will vote for a national authority who wants to do what the people want, rather than what the local authority wants. I suppose you could argue that the people can recall the local authority if they do that, but I still don't even know for sure China can do recalls... again, that seems to be something that is not easily found about China on the internet, like most things about China.

RE: A socialist system is more democratic
I agree that a socialist system is more democratic, but I contend that China is not socialist in any way, shape, or form. At one time China could be argued to be socialist, but they've been becoming capitalist for decades now[10], there's room to argue that the form of capitalism China has now is state capitalism[11], which is when the government owns the means of production, or controls it to a very large degree. Socialism is defined as the democratic control and social ownership of the means of production[12]. I contend that these two ideologies are incompatible, as a state owning the means of production, or controlling it through other means, means that the people do not control and own it through social means.

RE: not that hard to run for office
" A person can run for office even if they are approved by just three people."
Do you have a source for this? Again, a lot of the things you're claiming I cannot find myself online and you're not offering your own sources, so I think it makes sense to dismiss any claim that doesn't have evidence.

Debate Round No. 3


Articles Smack of Bias

By and large these articles will judge China as authoritarian because of the influence of the Communist Party. However, as I have pointed out and sourced in a previous round China's regime has a high approval rating. The Chinese people approve of the influence of the Communist Party, so the system is democratic.

Scholarly articles typically are sponsored by academic institutions, and those institutions often have some sort of financial bias. Even absent a financial bias the academics were raised in an environment where they were told about how authoritarian China was since a young age. Confirmation bias is a well-known phenomenon in psychology, which explains the mental gymnastics people use to convince themselves that China is still a dictatorship even after learning that there are in fact multiple legal political parties and democratic elections.

Recall and Being Easily Nominated Sourced in Previous Rounds

The right to recall was cited in a previous round. The source is the Chinese Constitution.
That you only need three people to nominate you to run in an election was mentioned on the wikipedia page for Elections in China.

I will include the sources again at the end of the page.

Strong Central Authority Does Not Negate that a Multi-tiered System Can Better Represent the People

Strong central authority is often necessary. Policies can sometimes be ineffective if different localities are doing completely different things. Nevertheless since people elected at higher levels need the votes of only a small number of people and since each of those people need the votes of only a small number of people, and this proceeds downwards until you reach a level where the representatives each rely on the votes of a small constituency each representative develops closer relationships with those who elect him and each voter has more power proportionately compared to if they had instead used large constituencies to directly elect national offices.

Con says that the people at the higher levels would only care about the desires of government officials at the smaller levels. But those government officials need to be elected too, so even if this is true then they will care about the desires of government officials who elect those officials who in turn elect them, and thus ultimately they will care about the desires of the voters who elect the government officials at the lowest level of government.

China is Indeed Socialist and Socialism Requires a State

Read China's Constitution. It makes several references to socialism. Read about the economy of China at the wikipedia page. While yes China does use market mechanisms this is part of a "socialist market economy". Markets are used for the good of the state and ultimately for the good of the Chinese people. The primary authority over the economy is still the government and so it is still socialist. You will notice there are still many state-owned enterprises. 98% of China's banking assets is state-owned, for example. 75% of state bank loans go to state-owned enterprises.

Con says that the state owning the means of production is incompatible with socialism. I argue the opposite. If a state is a democracy, as China is then the state running the economy (including making decisions about when and when not to partner with private entities) is socialist. In fact without the state all that could exist would be private entities, unaccountable to any authority, even the authority of the people. This is why socialism requires a state.


1. China's Constitution
2. Confirmation Bias
3. Elections in the People's Republic of China - Note that the link is broken. You will need to type in "Elections in the People's Republic of China" after wiki/ in order to reach the page.'s_Republic_of_China
4. Economy of China


Scientific articles
I reject the idea that because the people approve of the government, that the government is democratic. This is flawed, because suppose a country like Nazi Germany had a high approval rating for its government. We would all agree(I think) that Nazi Germany was not democratic. Or better yet, let's take a monarchy. Suppose the monarch has a high approval rating. This doesn't suddenly mean the monarchy is a democracy, because it isn't.

Now, my opponent claims that these articles could be subject to confirmation bias. Claiming they are doesn't prove that they are though. Also, if anything, they would be left-wing skewed. I always hear people complaining how universities and academics are left-wing biased. If they're left-wing biased, they should be all claiming China is democratic, not authoritarian, since China is left-wing. They should be claiming positive things about China. So, perhaps they don't actually have a left-wing bias, but I've seen plenty of evidence that they do, such as liberals almost always agreeing with their professors, and conservatives almost never agreeing with them(at least in my experience as a university student). There are exceptions to this rule, such as professors at Liberty University, Brigham Young Univerity, and a few others would have right-wing bias, but majority of universities are left-wing I believe. Especially public universities. It's mostly private universities that have the right-wing bias and public universities which have a left-wing bias. This may have to do with the fact that privately owned universites(which are, by definition, capitalist when you think about it) would attract more right-wing professors, and public universities(having something owned by the government is typically a more left-wing concept) would attract left-wing professors. It makes sense when you think about it. I mean, let's take a look at healthcare. Let's suppose we had government-run healthcare running simultaneously with privately-run healthcare. I'm sure the left-wing doctors and nurses would want to work for the government-run healthcare services because that is what they agree with, while the right-wing doctors would want to work for the privately-run healthcare services, as that is what they agree with. So, it would make sense to conclude that most of the sources on google scholar would be left-wing in bias if they had any bias.

Recall and nominations
Oh, now I see that. I don't know why I didn't see that before. However, it doesn't state that the people have the right to recall the lowest government officials. This chain of power is thus broken. Only the lower levels of government seem to be allowed to recall the higher up level of government in China. Since the people cannot recall a lower government official, there's no reason why the government official would need to do what the people want. I see one problem here, suppose candidate A runs for the lowest level of government in China. They run on promises that are popular among the Chinese people, but then does none of them and does the opposite. They could then run for the next higher up level of government, to avoid being voted out the next election since then it would be the lower level voting for him or her, instead of the people. All they would need to do to stay in power is promise to do things that the lower level of government wants, and then not deliver, then go up in level of government again, and keep repeating this. There doesn't seem to be anything that holds them to do what the people want.

Alright, so it looks like it's probably the case that you only need 4 people to nominate a person. It actually says one voter and at least 3 others on the wikipedia, so it wouldn't be 3 but 4 people, but that doesn't really make a difference. However, even though anyone can run as long as you have 4 people wanting you to, there is still the problem with the government getting involved in the election to prevent that candidate from winning, which makes it less democratic.

Also, now that I looked back in my debate, I did link to a wikipedia page talking about how the party has to approve of the candidate. So which is it? Can 4 people just nominate a person, or does the party have to approve of the candidate? As is said here[5], " Starting in the 1980s, in the period of opening and reform, the government organized village elections in which several candidates would run. However, each candidate was chosen or approved by the Party."
This seems to be a contradiction between the two wikipedia articles. Actually, I suppose it could be both. Perhaps 4 people can nominate a person, but the candidate still has to be approved by the party. If that's the case, then it's still not democratic since, over all, it has to be approved by the party, so not just anyone can run.

Multi-tiered system
You don't see any problems with this though? I'm sure you're familiar with the game, telephone correct? What inevitably happens probably in majority of games of telephone, is that as each person repeats the words they heard, it gets jumbled up and changes over each time a person tells another person. Why wouldn't multi-tiered "democracy" be subject to the same thing? The local representatives might get the desires of the people correct, but then the next level might get it wrong because as the information travels from person to person, it gets altered, and not necessarily on purpose, this is just what happens due to human error. The few humans who are involved in the system of getting what the people want, the better and more likely it will represent what the people want. If people voted directly for the national government, then the national government would know directly what the people want and there would be almost no cases where they get it wrong due to miscommunication from one level of government, to another level of government, to another.

For the second paragraph that my opponent said in this section, just look up what I said under the "Recall and nominations" section, the first paragraph. Go about a quarter of the way to where I said "I see one problem..." This problem I pointed out would refute what my opponent said here.

Is China Socialist?
My opponent claims China is socialist because "The primary authority over the economy is still the government... You will notice there are still many state-owned enterprises. 98% of China's banking assets is state-owned, for example. 75% of state bank loans go to state-owned enterprises."
This is not socialism, it's state capitalism. Go back to my previous round of debate where I talked about the differences between socialism and state capitalism. They're not the same thing. State capitalism is not democratic in any way, shape, or form in most cases. My opponent seems to be accepting the idea of calling state ownership of the means of production to be socialism, but that's not true in majority of cases. For this reason, countries like the USSR, North Korea, China, etc were never actually socialist. We call them socialist, and many people believe they are socialist, but this is because America was fead propaganda that they are. The countries themselves even claim to be socialist, but they are socialist in name only. Again, socialism is the democratic control of the means of production, and that is even why my opponent and I agreed that sociaism is more democratic, because, by definition, it is since it's the democratic control of the means of production. The people do not own those enterprises in China though, as my opponent said, they are "state-owned enterprises" not "people-owned enterprises". Democratic means "of the people", not "of the state".

So, I suppose state capitalism and socialism can overlap(which is odd, I never thought a form of capitalism would overlap with a form of socialism, but they appear to do so), but it only does so when you have a democratic government which owns the means of production.

Now my opponent says that China is socialist because the state is democratic. Yes, if the country is actually democratic, and the state is the one who owns the means of production, then it would be the case that they are socialist, though they would simultaneously be state capitalist. Only in this instance, where the state owns the means of production, can state-ownership of the means of production be called socialism: only when the state, itself, is democratic.

However, as I've been pointing out, there is significant evidence to believe China is not a democratic country. Since the state owns the means of production while not being democratic, then they do not have a democratic means of production.

Basically it needs to first be established that China is a democratic nation in order to argue that they are socialist. I don't personally think my opponent sufficienty refuted the scientific articles pointing to China as being authoritarian though as they claimed they would be subject to confirmation bias, but this would need to be proven.

[12] (I'm providing this here, since I somehow didn't in my previous round)

Debate Round No. 4


High Approval Rating Counts

In a country without elections such as an absolute monarchy obviously even a high approval rating wouldn't make it a democracy. However, a country which has elections such as China having a high approval rating suggests that people feel they are represented appropriately and so is good reason to consider such a regime to be a democracy.

Confirmation Bias

Con claims that just because the articles would be more likely to be skewed to the left-wing means that they would be more pro-China. Even though China is a left-wing country these articles are still written primarily from a left-wing perspective from within Western society. This is different. The left is Western societies tends to be biased towards seeing China as not respecting human rights because of such things as capital punishment, censorship, and since China has at times applied hooliganism laws to homosexuality. While I don't necessarily agree with any of those things when such policies are decided upon within a democracy it does not negate its being a democracy.

Nevertheless if you have already judged that a foreign country's policies are not to your liking it can only help that narrative if you can convince others and yourself that the foreign country's government is a form of government you and most others in your society don't like (such as convincing them and yourself that the government is not a democracy). This can also be a form of wishful thinking. If you convince yourself that a government with policies you disapprove of isn't really a democracy you might convince yourself that if the people were in charge then it would set different policies. That way you can think of the people of that country as victims who would do away with the policies you don't like if the government were to change into something which according to your biased point of view would constitute a democracy.

The Western right-wing of course has strong reasons to be biased against China as well. They disapprove of China's socialist economic system.

Hence there are plenty of reasons for Western people whether on the left or the right to convince themselves that China is not a real democracy. That makes any source from the West, particularly any source written in English liable to being biased into seeing China unfavorably.

Recall In China Extends to the Local Levels As Well

This political science website mentions that recall elections can happen at the local level in China. Since the people have the ability to recall those officials who represent them directly this gives the people a lot of power. If higher level officials became unpopular enough that could create real pressure on those officials at lower levels to recall them in order to win reelection or even to avoid being recalled themselves.

Still Relatively Easy to Run for Office

Being able to run with the support of just four people is a rare thing in this world. In the United States anyone who wants to run for office typically needs thousands of signatures. While it may be the case that the Communist Party and other mass organizations may have their opinion on these elections and may endeavor to influence the outcome the same is true in any country. In the United States corporations donate thousands or sometimes millions of dollars to influence elections. It has gotten so bad that it is arguable that it is an oligarchy, which I pointed out in a source in a previous round.

There is one thing which makes it harder for the Communist Party to manipulate elections, small constituencies. Since direct elections are only held at the local level the number of voters is relatively small. This means they are more likely to all know each other. If the best candidate is really an independent candidate the people will figure this out in their daily conversations and will elect him. Granted the election committee still has to approve the candidates, but they are composed of educated people and if the trust people have of the candidate is well-founded he will be allowed to run.

That the people usually vote for the Communist Party just shows that people in China trust the Communist Party. That Communist Party members would be suspicious of a non-member wanting to attain office is reasonable. Why does he want to be elected? Considering that not being a party member he did not have to educate himself as extensively about Marxist theory and about the current issues facing China one could reasonably wonder that he may have more selfish intentions. But that doesn't mean someone running as an independent can't get elected, he just has to win the trust of the people in the district he is running in, and the Communist Party is just making sure the voters judge these things carefully.

Independent Candidate Example

Yao Lifa is an example of an independent candidate who successfully was elected to office even against the wishes of the Communist Party. If China was not a democracy how could that happen?

Telephone is a bad analogy

In the game of telephone you can't go back and say "excuse me, can you please clarify?" But people can and do do that in governements if something is misunderstood.

Larger constituencies are bad for much the same reason as larger classrooms are bad. There are more people and so the politician's attention is more divided. The politician will also be more likely to be distracted by campaign contributions and pleading from special interest groups. When a politician only has to campaign for a small group of voters it is easier for the politician to be aware of what his voters want and respond appropriately.

China is Socialist

Con says that those enterprises in China are state-owned enterprises. This is true, but the state is elected by the people, so a state-owned enterprise in China is a people-owned enterprise. That China is socialist, that the economy is run by the state also amplifies the power of the Chinese people since through their representatives they exercise power over the commanding heights of the economy.


Just look at all the evidence. They have recall elections, multiple parties and independents are allowed to run. All the claims against China being considered a democracy are unfounded. Any restrictions on political participation are just the result of a decision made by a democratically-elected government, and at any rate since it allows some independents and other-party candidates to run (and sometimes they win even without support from the Communist Party) it's not that restrictive. Certainly it is more democratic than countries where money in politics determines the outcomes of elections.

Vote Pro!


1. Right of Recall Includes Direct local elections

Yao Lifa, Independent who won



Re: High approval ratings
However, the higher up levels of government are voted on by the lower tier. I would argue that as you go higher up, the less likely the people are represented properly. After all, only the majority of people will have people elected at the lowest level representing them, then a majority of a majority will elect the next level, and so on. Eventually you get pluralities, or even minorities who are represented only in the government while ignoring the majority.

So, I argue this means it's not democratic, so the high approval ratings would not mean anything.

Re: bias
Again, you need to show that there is bias in these specific articles. You could have chosen a few of them and point out how they have bias. You can't just claim they do without offering reason for each specific case. It would be a blanket statement. I would say we can accept the analyses by the google scholar articles.

RE: Recall
However, it's not in the constitution that they can recall the lower level of government. Thus, I wonder where this source you showed got its information from. For all we know, they could be making that up, especially since they didn't cite any source on the matter themselves.

RE: still easy to run for office
I would argue it is more democratic to require that you need more support of the people to be able to run. If just 4 people can nominate you, that's not all that democratic, as it's just representing the views of 4 people instead of the community.

Now, my opponent argues that small constituencies make it hard for the Chinese government to manipulate elections, but the fact of the matter is, it still does happen as the wikipedia article shows. This would still make it less democratic, just the fact that it happens.

My opponent argues that because the people vote for the communist party, that the people trust the communist party. This logic is flawed. Let's just look at how the people vote in America. It's almost always a republican or a democrat who gets in. However, a plurality of people are neither democrat nor republican and are upset over the democrat and republican rule. [13] [14]

Re: telephone
However, in many instances, it's not possible to undo a decision once it's done. The only way someone can tell a politician in a higher up position that they did the wrong policy, is if the policy has already been implemented. For example, capital punishment and military operations are basically not able to be undone. Many other decisions would have an immediate effect on things too, that would put the people under the consequences of that decision for at least a while. So, while someone of the lower government can speak up, it's not until after the plan is initiated that it would happen.

China is socialist
However, the higher up levels of government are elected by the lower level. This isn't democratic, I argue. Unless it's the lower level of government that owns the state-owned enterprises, this is not a democratic control of the means of production.

While they have recall elections from lower level of government to the other, it is questionable whether they do for the lowest level of government, as there was no source cited for where the source my opponent linked to. That source could be just making it up, and since the idea of local government being recalled is absent in the Chinese constitution, it probably doesn't exist all across China. While multiple parties and candidates are allowed to run, they essentially have to be pre-approved by the Chinese government or else the government will actively get involved in the election to prevent that person from winning. The claim that they are more democratic because they are socialist is flawed, since I argue that they are not socialist since the people are not involved in electing the higher-ups who control the means of production. In the scientific community, it is widely viewed that China is authoritarian, and my opponent failed to present facts to support their claim that the articles I linked to are biased. They conjectured it, but failed to support this claim that bias was occuring in some of those articles.

Debate Round No. 5
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by Capitalistslave 2 years ago
And somehow my 12th link didn't get posted. I'll post that here and in the next round, just in case voters don't read the comments.

Posted by Capitalistslave 2 years ago
Whoops, I forgot to address the "forced cooperation" and "Freedom of Speech" parts before I posted my round 3 arguments. I guess I'll do that the next round since I still have more rounds.
Posted by Capitalistslave 2 years ago
I apologize I have yet to post an argument. I will work on one now, but it will be without sources as I am on a phone and do not have access to a computer, so it's very inconvenient, and would take a long time, to post my links and do research.
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