Friday, June 18, 2021

Why China’s Idea of ‘Good’ Is Dangerous

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) espouses that its ideology produces the highest good for society. However, there is a big difference between what the CCP and people from the rest of the world classify as “good.” And the difference basically originates from the clash between Beijing’s “socialism with Chinese characteristics” vs. the Western idea of “universal values.”

The contradiction

“Universal values,” as professed by the West, are a set of standards that have been willingly accepted by people worldwide. They include ideas such as democracy, which allows people to choose their leaders, freedom of faith that guarantees people the right to practice their religion without fear of persecution, and freedom of expression that grants people the right to speak their mind without facing any repression from the state. It is these ideas that are considered good according to Western “universal values.”

However, the CCP’s definition of “good” does not include such ideas as democracy, free speech, or religious tolerance. Why? Because there is a significant difference between Western thought and Chinese communist thought — the value of individuality. Western thought gives huge respect to the individual rights of a person. As such, all laws that have been formulated by Western societies eventually end up protecting the rights of each person in society.

China’s definition of ‘good’ is bad for the world. (Image: / CC BY 4.0)

On the contrary, the CCP’s thought process is fixated on the idea of control over society. It does not value individuality. The individual is expected to remain subdued as long as society remains under the strict control of the communist regime. As a consequence, all laws created by the Chinese government end up persecuting ideas like democracy, freedom of religion, and free speech since these are considered to promote individuality, eventually becoming a threat to the state.  

In short, Western universal values protect citizens from the state while Chinese communist values protect the state from its citizens. This is why China’s definition of good is dangerous for the world since it will only encourage rule by force and intimidation rather than governance through compassion and the rule of law.

The Hong Kong situation

The gulf between Chinese and Western values is easily evident in the ongoing conflict in Hong Kong. Protestors want Beijing to limit its control over the city, while the Chinese government wants to strengthen its hold as it considers this to be “good” for the people of Hong Kong. Once again, the voices of individuals are being sacrificed for the dominance of the state.

To aid Hong Kong, the U.S. government recently passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019. “The power of Hong Kong people alone is limited, and we need other countries, such as the U.S., to help us counter China and keep “one country, two systems”… I doubt the act can be an ultimate game-changer, but I think it is enough to give pressure to China,” Eric Kwan, a 32-year-old protestor, said to The New York Times.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 in October. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

The bill was passed unanimously by the U.S. House of Representatives on October 15. It mandates the Secretary of State to issue a certification of Hong Kong’s autonomy on a yearly basis. If the U.S. administration believes that China is encroaching on the democratic values of Hong Kong, it can withdraw the special status it assigns to the region. This will end up being financially damaging for Hong Kong and eventually China.

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Max Lu
Max Lu is an author who specializes in Asian geopolitics.

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