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Ning Sao: Sino-Western comparisons can improve dialogue


The author is Prof. Ning Sao from the School of Government at PKU. (file photo)


The China model of development has aroused keen attention in recent years. Some believe China and the West have different societies, so their political systems are basically incomparable. This claim merits critical analysis, because the significance of the "China model" in the global sphere cannot be evaluated without comparisons among different systems.


A comparison needs to be oriented on similarities or identical qualities shared by two parties. The perspectives and standards also matter. The Chinese political system and its Western counterpart are not comparable in terms of the architecture of state power and the operation model and process, but with regard to the functions, productivity and performance, there is a high comparability between them.


In fact, there are comparisons already being made in Western academia. Some political scientists such as Francis Fukuyama and China observers like Thomas Friedman have realized that the China model has some unique and significant advantages, which are not possessed by the West, to drive the country to move forward.


Symmetric comparison, which aims at exploring differences among commonalities, has been appreciated by political specialists since the late 1950s when the old Western colonial system collapsed and a number of independent countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America emerged.


Only by conducting such comparisons between China and the West in terms of political systems can the values of the Chinese development model be revealed. The comparisons must be focused on how to distinguish the similarities and differences, find out the causes of these similarities and differences, and uncover and predict their consequences.


Such comparisons can highlight the institutional factors in each development model. There are also other factors that will be underlined, such as what specific roles should the government and the market play in different societies, and what historical and social elements initiated these different systems.


Through comparisons, the two different systems will be able to engage in effective dialogue. On the one hand, they will make the Chinese development model understood and recognized by a much larger part of the international community. On the other hand, they can help China keep a clear mind to both stick with its road and draw experiences and lessons from the West. By doing so the misunderstandings based on years of prejudice will be reduced, and integration and communication will be boosted.


Source: Global Times

Edited by: Arthars