Shelby: Millions of young Chinese people were fascinated by the American presidential election.
Wang Hanyi: Well, we just want to know what’s happening on the other side of the world. We are now living in the realm of social media. It’s much easier to get all this information compared to the past.
Shelby: Even in China, American politics are wide open and easy to follow online.
Wang: American election is open, energetic.
Shelby: But in China, politics is a much different story. Just days after millions of Americans voted for their president, senators, and representatives, the Chinese will be picking their next generation of leaders, but not by a vote of the people. Instead, China’s new leaders will be selected by a small and secretive committee during what is called the Communist Party Congress. This group will choose China’s president and premier, the two most powerful posts in the country. So essentially, this small, secretive group is responsible for choosing the men who will represent 1.3 billion people, or about one fifth of the world’s population.
The Communist Party says the system works well.
Yang: Why China prospered as a sole major economy after the financial meltdown is because of the effective leadership that we exercised.
Shelby: But as many Chinese followed the U.S. election, they say they like the benefits of an American-style democracy.
Guan Xin: At least they can fight for their own interests. At least they can fight for the people.
Liu: They can openly question and discuss the political problems.
Shelby: More often, the will of the country’s 1.3 billion is clashing with the Communist leadership. By some estimates, there are five hundred protests everyday in China over corruption and pollution.
While the political process in China is still secretive, the country has started to open up over the last twenty years. There is more freedom of speech and press, even if it is still limited. Business has increased, the standard of living has improved and more people have access to things like technology and education. But some say that progress is not happening fast enough.
Chinese citizen: We believe this is the only way forward to China. When the people of China can have the right to vote, can have the right to expression, freedom of expression, and have the right to assembly and the very basic human right.
Shelby: So, are those rights something young people could see existing in China someday?
Wang: It’s going to take time, for sure.
Shelby: Shelby Holliday, Channel One News.