Two excellent posts on Confucianism as THE ideology for China. The first, by Xujun Eberlein, writing at China Beat, is entitled, “China: Democracy, or Confucianism?” Greatly oversimplified, its thesis is, essentially, as follows:

It seems typical of American thinking to regard either a republic or parliamentary democracy as absolutely the only right model for all countries. For a political system to succeed, however, it needs to be rooted in the particular country’s cultural history. Throughout thousands of years, China has never lacked great thinkers, political or philosophical. Which poses an interesting question: why does China need to adopt a Western model for its political system, be it Marxist communism or capitalist democracy?

Ms. Eberlein then goes on to call out Confucius as China’s last great folk thinker in “quite some time.”
Professor Crane over at The Useless Tree responds to Ms. Eberlein’s post by, among other things, making three very strong points. The first point, and one on which I whole-heartedly agree, is that it is unfair and dismissive to refer to democracy as “simply a ‘Western’ thing”:

Two things come to mind here, by way of critique. First, while it is true that certain institutions and practices of modern democratic politics can be said to have arisen and developed in something called “the West,” it is not true that democracy is simply a “Western” thing. “West” is as problematic a construction as “East” or “Orient.” It operates on too abstract a level of historical analysis to be very useful in analyzing and understanding political dynamics. And it is as politicized as any other such generalization. It is used by critics of democracy to link popular demands for more open and participatory politics with imperialism. It thus frames Chinese or Vietnamese or North Korean democrats as unpatriotic (I do not mean to suggest that his is Jiang Qing’s intention; but the broader discourse of “The West” creates this effect). A further ramification of the use of “The West” is to distract attention away from historical and contemporary democratic practices in Asia (are Taiwanese not “Chinese”? Are Koreans not “Easterners”? Are Indians not “Asian”?) and also glosses over the history and current manifestations of anti-democracy in the “West.” Overall, a high cost to pay intellectually for a fatuous over-generalization.

His second point is that China is too diverse and too globalized to become harnessed by a “singular state ideology:

Confucianism cannot serve as the singular state ideology because no system of thought or philosophy can so serve. Confucianism can provide us with a unique perspective on modern issues but it cannot capture the totality of modernity. Neither can socialism or liberalism (which is not, by the way, the “state ideology” of the US) or conservatism or whatever have you. Globalization, which brings constant movement of ideas and cultural practices, makes this even more impossible.

Why not democracy with Chinese characteristics?

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Photo of Dan Harris Dan Harris

Dan is a founder of Harris Bricken, an international law firm with lawyers in Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, China and Spain.

He primarily represents companies doing business in emerging market countries, having spent years building and maintaining a global, professional network. 

Dan is a founder of Harris Bricken, an international law firm with lawyers in Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, China and Spain.

He primarily represents companies doing business in emerging market countries, having spent years building and maintaining a global, professional network.  His work has been as varied as securing the release of two improperly held helicopters in Papua New Guinea, setting up a legal framework to move slag from Canada to Poland’s interior, overseeing hundreds of litigation and arbitration matters in Korea, helping someone avoid terrorism charges in Japan, and seizing fish product in China to collect on a debt.

He was named as one of only three Washington State Amazing Lawyers in International Law, is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory (its highest rating), is rated 10.0 by AVVO.com (also its highest rating), and is a recognized SuperLawyer.

Dan is a frequent writer and public speaker on doing business in Asia and constantly travels between the United States and Asia. He most commonly speaks on China law issues and is the lead writer of the award winning China Law Blog. Forbes Magazine, Fortune Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, Business Week, The National Law Journal, The Washington Post, The ABA Journal, The Economist, Newsweek, NPR, The New York Times and Inside Counsel have all interviewed Dan regarding various aspects of his international law practice.

Dan is licensed in Washington, Illinois, and Alaska.

In tandem with the international law team at his firm, Dan focuses on setting up/registering companies overseas (via WFOEs, Rep Offices or Joint Ventures), drafting international contracts (NDAs, OEM Agreements, licensing, distribution, etc.), protecting IP (trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights and patents), and overseeing M&A transactions.